Nine No-Fail Ideas to Keep a Toddler Happy in the Car

In the past few weeks our youngest (16 months) has gone from being a happy little traveler to being a rolling whiner.  From the moment she realizes that the car ride is coming she stiffens up and fusses.  After fifteen minutes in the car she starts to really get mad (the twice-daily rountrip to school is 20 minutes, mind you), and forget about anything longer--it's just not worth the bother.  So here they are, my top nine ways to keep the littlest one happy in the car:
  1. Crank up the radio, and sing along.  Sorry NPR, babies don't like you.  Anything with some good rhythm and melody seems to work for us.  The singing is a requirement.
  2. Make sure that the seat is adjusted comfortably.  I realized a few weeks ago that she was reclined a bit more than she liked, meaning that she had to hold her head up to see her hands.  Vewy fwustwating. 
  3. Double check the diaper.  I also realized that after-school pickup came right before her usual change and the wetness was irritating.  Changing before the ride made for a marked improvement.
  4. One word: snacks.  I like the Gerber fruit puffs in a spill-proof snack cup
  5. Small board books...I mean, really small--toddler's hands small.  Our copy of Maisy's Favorite Animals has been worn out by three sets of hands, but is beloved by all!
  6. Play 'what's in the sock?'  This one works remarkably well.  Put a baby toy, finger puppet, or other safe object in a sock (or wrap it in a bandanna) then have your child work to get it out. 
  7. Provide three or more things to play with, preferably ones that haven't been too played with.
  8. Take off the poor kid's shoes and socks.  Sweet pea can get really worked up trying to get hers off and those toes are just too succulent to leave alone!
  9. And if all else fails, a sucker.  We like dum-dums, but saf-t-pops (with the looped handle) are probably safer (she says guiltily!).
How do you keep your littlest ones happy for a car ride?  (please share...I need all the help I can get!)
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