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Tips for keeping your preschooler happy in the car

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, pets...

How to survive the drive

Car trips are trying for preschoolers — and their moms! Use these tips to keep your preschooler happy in the car and make the trip a little more enjoyable for everyone.

How to survive the drive

Play music

Play some preschool tunes in the car when you're traveling and let him get his jam on. It's probably not your music of choice for a long trip, but it's a lot easier to tune out than a screaming 3-year-old!

Watch a movie

Pop in a movie and your preschooler will be happy, occupied and quiet for an hour or two. If your vehicle has a DVD player installed, you're good to go. If not, you still have a few options. Bring along a portable DVD player or even a laptop (just be sure to disable the keyboard) and let him watch from there, or download a movie onto a portable device.

Check out 5 must-have apps for preschoolers >>

Pack food

The only thing worse than a preschooler who's bored is a preschooler who's bored and hungry. Pack plenty of snacks and drinks, because a little one with a full belly is a lot easier to deal with.

Read about the importance of play >>

Bring toys

Pack toys from home that your kiddo can play with in the car. Avoid things that take a lot of space, like blocks. Instead, bring cars, trains, dolls, kid-friendly laptops and action figures. Anything that can be played on a lap is a good idea.

Check out these holiday gift ideas for preschoolers >>

Bring books

Most preschoolers can't read to themselves yet, but they can still enjoy flipping through the pages of a book. Bring along some of her favorites, and ask her to read to you while you drive.

Get crafty

Preschoolers are often on their best behavior when they're being creative. Bring a bag or box of items that will help them busy their minds and their hands. Something as simple as pipe cleaners or aluminum foil will go a long way toward keeping your little one occupied for a quite a while. If you have another adult along for the trip, bring blank paper and crayons, and ask the second adult to dole out crayons at your preschooler's request — just make sure he only has one or two at a time.

Let him stretch

If you're planning a long road trip, make sure to work in stops every two or three hours for your preschooler. He'll probably need potty breaks at least that often, and if he doesn't, he'll still need to stretch his legs and move around a little.

Quick Tip

Keep some toys in the car that don't go into the house. They'll play with them longer if they aren't toys they see every day.

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