Moving is stressful for all. But, even more so for toddlers since they are too young to understand that changing homes doesn’t mean leaving their parents or toys behind forever.
We know that there’s nothing worse than seeing your baby in distress. Pacifying them through the process comes down to spending extra time getting the little one excited about the move and making sure they feel heard. In this guide, you will learn more about how to move effortlessly to a new city with a toddler.
Before the Move
1. Understand what moving looks like for your child
Children view the world differently than adults. They like consistency— familiar people, objects, parks. Uprooting them from the current home means pulling the safety net from beneath their feet. This can be traumatic, and knowing they can’t do anything to stop the move makes them feel helpless. As parents, understand that your child may appear erratic or act out to express their confusion and frustration. Stay calm and patient with them. Give them extra affection to soothe their anxiety.
2. Tell them what moving entails
Moving is an inevitable part of most people’s lives, but not so for toddlers, whose current home might be their whole world. The concept of relocation is foreign to them. As a parent, you should start getting them familiar with moving as early as possible. The sooner you do this, the smoother the transition will go.
Here are some ways to help your child understand the idea of moving:
- Use stories, toys, and furniture to explain the concept of moving.
- Place objects like moving supplies like boxes and tapes around the house ahead of time, so the kids get familiar with them.
- When you pack away your child’s toys or favorite blanket, let them know it’s not being thrown away.
- Let them know that the routine and family structure will not change even after the move.
- Slowly explain to them what will happen during the move, so they know what to expect.
- Give them a sense of control by asking their input on things like which toys they should keep, which color their new room should be.
3. Take them to the new neighborhood
Do you already have the keys to your new home? Or maybe you have already decided on the community where you will be living. If yes, then take them there for a visit. Drive through the neighborhood and the nearby parks and ice cream shops.
If you have the keys, then take them with you through the new house. Show them what their new room looks like and ask how they’d like to decorate it. Doing this will significantly soothe their anxiety as the unknown elements will become known. They will know exactly what to look forward to and will look at moving as a positive experience.
4. Pack their things strategically
We recommend packing your child’s items last. This way, they can resort to their belongings if they get anxious watching things being packed and moved through the days. Children like reaching for items, like teddy bears, dolls, blankets, for comfort. Let them have their safe space with comfort items as long as possible.
When the time comes to pack their items, get them involved. Have them put the toys inside the box and tell them they will be taken to the new house, so they don’t think the toys have vanished. If possible, we recommend having them hold their favorite toy or silly cup during the drive. So leave those unpacked.
Once at the new home, unpack their items first so they can feel a sense of safety and normalcy again by being surrounded by familiar items in an unfamiliar space.
5. Plan out your moving day
We highly recommend having a trusted friend or a babysitter watch over your child while things are being moved out. The commotion can be too overwhelming for the child, and you won’t have enough time to soothe their nerves. So it’s best to have the little one distracted by playing or watching TV at a friend’s house.
If leaving them with a friend or babysitter is not a possibility, don’t worry. There’s another way — sit with your child and explain exactly what will happen on the moving day. Emphasize that when they see the boxes being loaded and transported, it doesn’t mean they will disappear. It’s just being taken to your new home! Try to involve them in the process if possible by asking them to watch over certain toys that are special to them.
On the Moving Day
1. Plan your road trip
If you’re going to be driving to your new home, you want to plan your road trip thoroughly. Plan out which route you will be taking, and also alternate routes in case there are road closures due to weather, accidents, or construction.
You also want to plan for breaks. Figure out rest areas where you will be eating, and if you’re traveling across states, we highly recommend spreading the trip over a few days. Book hotels for staying the night ahead of time.
2. Take a survival kit
Whether you’re moving a few blocks away or to a new city or state, the “newness” may shake things up for your baby. Having a survival kit ensures that you are prepared with everything you need to calm their precious minds. Here are some items that should be in your survival kit:
- Snacks: candies, crackers, cookies, or whatever your little one likes
- Coloring books, crayons & stickers, or picture books
- Few children’s movies on a portable device
- Roll of small trash bags: These are great for storing soiled clothes or if the child has to puke from car sickness during a long drive.
- Baby wipes
- First aid: allergy meds, fever meds, stomach meds, motion sickness med, bug bite cream, Neosporin, band-aids
- Get a few pairs of backup clothes
- Beach towel
3. Safety is your top priority
As a parent, your child’s safety is your main priority. If they’re sick, or if there’s a hurricane, winter storm, or another calamity going on, it’s best to postpone the move to another day.
Also, if you’re moving long-distance, please do consider taking several breaks. We understand in an attempt to get the trip over with, you may be tempted to keep driving through the night to cut the travel time by a few hours. But resting is essential, both for you and the baby.
Pullover every few hours and have your kids walk around to stretch. Make it an enjoyable trip for them rather than a race. At night, stay at the hotel for a night and get a whole night of rest instead of driving the entire distance in a day.
After the Move
1. Babyproof the home
Baby proofing your new home should be the first and immediate thing you do after moving with a toddler. Don’t delay it even for a day. This process is crucial to ensure that all the potential hazards for your little angel have been identified and eliminated.
Here are some babyproofing tips to help:
- Empty the crib: Remove stuffed animals, toys, or cushions from the crib to avoid any risk of suffocation.
- Soft rug: Space a thick and soft carpet near the crib if the toddler manages to get out of the crib.
- Windows: Make sure to install cordless blinds to prevent accidental strangulation.
- Electrical outlet protectors: Place them on all outlets throughout your entire home to eliminate any risk of shock.
- Bath: Don’t leave your baby unprotected even for a second while bathing them. If you need to get out urgently, take the baby with you. Ensure the water temperature isn’t higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or it can scald the little one’s skin.
- Wires: Make sure no cables are dangling anywhere in the house. Secure them using soft cable ties.
- Furniture: Install soft corner guards on all your furniture’s edges to prevent any chance of puncture wounds.
- Stairs: Install safety gates both on top and at the bottom of the stairs, so your child doesn’t accidentally access the stairs.
- Kitchen: Keep knives and scissors away from the reach of the baby. Secure the cabinet and drawers, so it isn’t left open. Also, take all your cleaning supplies from under the sink and place them higher on the shelves so the children can’t access them.
- Stove: Cook on the back burners whenever possible. This way, the front burner doesn’t stay hot and hurt your child if they were to touch the stove.
- Medicine cabinet: Get latches installed on your medicine cabinet and keep it locked. Keep the shampoo and body lotion locked or away from reach too.
- Plants: Make sure all the indoor houseplants are non-toxic. This is important because if the baby ingests a leaf on accident, it won’t poison them.
2. Deep clean
Once you’re at the new house, deep clean all the surfaces and the floor. Vacuum, sweep, and mop the floors to kill all bacteria or contaminants. You may want to hire a babysitter or ask your partner to take the child to the park while you clean.
There may be things left on the floor like paper clips, coins, bottle caps, etc., by the previous owner that can pose a choking hazard for your child. You want to get it all out before settling in. Also, check your door stoppers for caps. Those are easy to pull apart and can also be a choking hazard for the kid.
If you’re short on time, get the nursery and the common rooms cleaner at least. So the areas your child will hang out in will be disinfected and safe.
3. Leave time for unpacking
Once you’re at your new home and your belongings are delivered, it’s time to get unpacking. You don’t have to unpack all items right away. Place each box in its designated rooms and unpack your child’s essential items first so that they will need to spend the night comfortably at your new home.
Also, try your best to stick to the same routine as your old house. Your baby will appreciate the sense of security that comes from following a familiar routine, even if it’s a new space. Feed and bathe the little one at the same time they’re used to. Keep their bedtime the same, and don’t skip on bedtime stories if you’ve been doing it every night before.
The first few weeks of being in your new home will be demanding. Your child will need extra assurance from you. Giving them more attention during this time will make the transition process easier for them. They will quickly start feeling right at home in the new house.
How does Moving affect toddlers?
Moving is tough for toddlers, but if done right, it can help develop their personality for the better.
Spending your childhood in different neighborhoods teaches the little ones a lot about change. It shows the change isn’t something to be afraid of and can bring new opportunities and adventures. Moving helps them learn how to adapt to different situations quickly, acclimate to other cultures, and make new friends in any environment.
It is also an opportunity to make them stronger by getting them involved with minor decisions, like asking what outfit they’d like to wear on the moving day. They will feel less helpless and more empowered.
Your child will display many emotions during the move: anger, confusion, anxiety, fear. As a parent, you have to calm them down by giving them extra support. Being there during this sensitive period can boost their self-esteem and confidence. It will make moving an exciting adventure instead of a traumatic experience.
We hope this article helps you with how to move across the country with a toddler and a baby. While moving can take a little longer when toddlers are involved, hiring a moving company can make this process easier since it leaves more time for you to spend with your little ones.
Contact the Stark Team to learn how our services can make moving effortless for your family.