Do you feel helpless every time your baby cries in the car seat while you are driving?
You will be happy to know that you are not alone.
Car seat crying is more common than you might think. I spent a fair amount of time trying to make peace with the fact that our little one doesn’t like her seat.
While it is simple to just assume that your baby hates the car seat, it is not as straightforward as that.
My little one used to cry her eyes out and bang her head so hard against her seat every time we traveled.
I eventually figured out the reasons behind this wailing, which I will share with you.
With time, I also learned some clever tricks to stop a baby from crying on their seat while you are driving.
Most of these tricks work instantly and will definitely show you how to keep your baby happy in the car seat.
Why Does My Baby Hate The Car Seat?
After going on countless road trips with a baby who hates a car seat, I figured out a few reasons why.
Babies dread sitting on the car seat because firstly, they are not used to it.
Secondly, it separates them from the warmth of mommy’s arms.
Another reason is that car seats are generally very restricting for babies. Babies enjoy being free to stretch and grab what they want. Car seat straps prevent them from doing this.
Plus sitting inside a closed car facing away from everyone doesn’t help.
For these reasons, babies don’t enjoy sitting on their car seats and end up crying as soon as you put them on, or while driving.
What To do When Baby Cries In The Car Seat
Use these tips to stop your baby from crying in the car.
Get Them Used To The Car Seat
If your baby cries in the car seat the first time they use it, it might mean they just need to get used to it.
Here is what you can do:
Briefly place your baby on the seat a few times during the day to get them used to it.
It doesn’t have to be for too long, five minutes under your complete supervision will do.
Take short rides with your baby on the car seat so they get comfortable with sitting on it while you drive.
You can start doing this during the early days when you go out with your newborn baby.
Use those first days after your 6-week checkup to get your little one riding in the car with you.
You won’t really have much time in your hands but if you need to go for a quick grocery shopping, use that opportunity.
Get Someone To Sit With Baby
If your baby normally has separation anxiety, being on something as isolating as a car seat can be too much for them.
If you are the one driving, get a familiar face to sit next to your baby on a trip so your baby doesn’t feel so alone.
The person must talk to your baby or play with them to distract the baby from being away from mommy.
Make Sure Your Baby Is Comfortable
Your baby needs to be comfortable first so that they don’t notice the car seat as much.
Check if the car seat and straps fit properly, they should not be too tight.
If the sun is shining brightly onto your baby’s face, use window shields to avoid the bright sunlight irritating them.
Did you feed your baby just before your ride, burp them to remove any trapped gas that can make them uncomfortable.
You can also use these tips to prevent spitting up if your baby has reflux.
Check the diaper just before you put the baby in the car seat. If it is wet at all, even a little, put on a completely dry one.
Be sure to position the diaper properly to prevent diaper leaks on the way.
Leave After Baby Has Eaten
Since babies communicate through crying, if your baby is hungry on the road they will scream their lungs out until you feed them.
Feed your little one a few minutes before you leave (try 20 – 30 minutes before).
This will leave you with enough time to burp your baby and let the milk (or food) settle in the stomach before you put them in the car seat.
If your baby cries on the way and you suspect that they are hungry, find a safe place to stop and feed them before you continue with your trip.
Entertaining your baby is the best way to avoid tears on the car seat.
You want your baby to forget that they are sitting there and here is how to do it.
If your baby likes toys, pick a few that will be used on the trip. You can even hang a mobile close to the car seat with two or three toys for variety.
Remember to make sure they will not hit your little one during play or if the car stops abruptly.
Make use of a baby mirror so your baby can look at themselves on the road. Avoid mirrors with hard frames and they can injure your baby if they somehow hit themselves with them.
If your baby is not in the mood for their toys (it happens), give an unfamiliar item or something more intriguing than toys like an empty aqueous cream container, water bottle (tightly shut), or even a lunchbox deal.
To make things a little fun, remove the window shields and let them look outside the car.
Seeing the trees and poles passing can be quite fascinating for babies.
Talk Yo Your Baby If Driving Alone
When driving around alone with your baby, the ride can feel lonely for both of you.
You, as the adult, understand what is happening and are probably thinking of a million things you need to do.
Your baby on the other hand is just sitting there alone and not understanding why they are alone. That can make them cry.
To avoid this, talk to your baby as you drive so they can hear your voice and know that they are not alone.
Your voice is naturally calming and can soothe your crying baby.
Remember to still keep your focus on the road as you talk to your little one.
Most babies enjoy music. It lifts their mood and makes them want to dance.
Try different kinds of music to stop your baby from crying in the car. Even if you usually play one genre, try a different one and see what happens.
If music is not working for you, try white noise. It is even better if you normally use it to calm your little one when it is time to sleep.
No music and no white noise? Sing.
Your singing voice might be more soothing than any type of sound your baby hears.
Check That Your Baby Is Not Feeling Hot Or Cold
Your baby is more likely to feel hot in the car compared to you.
Again, they are more likely to feel hot than cold.
Plus you know how babies cannot regulate their body temperature in the beginning.
Feeling too hot is irritating and it can make your baby so uncomfortable that they end up crying.
Cars usually get so hot during hot days. Even with the air-con on, sometimes the heat is just too much.
I normally take off my baby’s shoes, socks, hat, jacket, or cardigan when we are riding in the car.
This is because they always sweat even when it is cold.
Avoid overdressing your baby or putting on a heavy jacket when they are on the car seat, not safe.
Put a light blanket or muslin cloth on your baby’s feet when it is cold.
Make sure the car is cool on very hot days and warm it up on chilly days.
Check Their Diaper
The diaper is usually the last thing I check before I put my baby on their seat.
The last thing I want is a baby who cries 20 minutes into the trip because a wet diaper is making them uncomfortable.
I also make a habit of stopping and checking it every time my baby cries in the car seat while driving.
You also don’t want your baby to sit for too long on their seat with a wet or soiled diaper to prevent diaper rash from developing.
Make The Ride Shorter
Sometimes your baby cries because the trip is just not coming to an end!
I mean, even grown-ups complain about long car rides.
Before taking a long road trip with your baby, start by taking short rides so they get used to being on the car seat.
If you have to take a longer trip before your baby gets used to sitting in the car seat, take frequent breaks on the way. This will also help incorporate nap and feed times.
It will also help with the change of scenery, stretching, and just taking a break from the car seat.
Whatever happens on the road while you are driving, remember that safety comes first.
If your baby suddenly screams in the car when you have no one to attend to them, keep your focus on the road and look for a safe place to stop so you can comfort them.
How To Keep Your Baby Happy In The Car
Babies often react negatively to a new environment until they get used to it. The same applies to baby car seats. It is something they just need to get used to.
You don’t have to dread going for road trips just because your baby always cries on their car seat.
If you have reason to believe that your baby just hates their seat, use these tips to help them love it.
Don’t resort to not using the car seat as it is not safe to drive around with your baby without using it.
Keep your baby comfortable, entertained, and make them know you are in the car. This will lessen their distress.
I have repeatedly used the tips on this post every time my baby cried while we were driving and they always worked.
Use them and say goodbye to car seat tantrums.