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Attachment Parenting

Car Seat Crying
From Our AP Forum Archives
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From larakay: Does anyone have trouble with your babies crying in the car seat? Willow cries whenever we put her in the car seat and I can't handle being in the front seat driving while she's in her car seat - not facing me and she's crying I end up pulling over a million times to settle her down. Anyone have any good solutions? Or anyone else in the same boat? (or should I say car?

From Ramona: Grace is like that. What I do it not go anywhere that's longer than 20 minutes away when it's just her and me. If my husband is there, I ride in back with her to keep her company. The pacifier really helps, too.

From SharonCC: I'm right there with ya. Emily cries on just the two-minute ride to Zachary's school. I am anxious to see what people suggest.

From LisaJo: Yup - Natalie has never been a happy car baby. Luckily, singing soothes her most of the time. I have to do it pretty continuously, and sometimes even that doesn't help. I have a whole repertoire I go through . . . then I start over. We just got a new carseat yesterday (Fisher Price Safe Embrace) and I'm wondering if it will help. Perhaps the old one was uncomfortable somehow???

From Ann88: At times I've had this problem. My baby will not take a pacifier but she sometimes will chew on it if I hold it, so when this happens, I drive while reaching into the back and holding a pacifier in her mouth. Very uncomfortable.

From Rainey: Nate does the same thing. Or did, until I found out that if I turn the radio on right when he starts to fuss, he will settle down. It either works right away, or not at all. Sometimes I'll crank it up for a minute, then when he calms down turn it down to a comfortable level. Something else I've done (which I know is a no-no, but hear me out first) is turned his car seat forward facing. He would always scream with the sunlight in his eyes, and since we moved him to the bigger rear-facing chair when he was 4 months due to his height/weight, we no longer had that little sunshade thing that the infant seat had. Another thing is the bigger seat has 3 strap levels. The top one can only be used forward facing. Nate has grown out of the bottom two; they cut into his shoulders now, as they are too low. And the instructions on our car seat said it must be forward facing if using the top strap hole. So I asked my pediatrician and the EMT guy who taught our CPR class, and even though technically the baby's neck isn't strong enough till they are a year, despite their weight/length, they said it would probably be ok. I was still thinking about it because I was determined to wait for a year regardless, then something happened that freaked me out. Nate was screaming in his seat as usual, and I ran a stop sign. Luckily there were no other cars and it was no big deal - but I realized what a danger it could be if I get so distracted with his screaming that we do get in an accident. So I moved his seat forward facing and he's much happier. Still has the odd meltdown, but at least he's not dealing with the sun in his eyes anymore, and I think he likes to be able to see in front where we're going. So, that's my .02. Please don't attack me for moving his seat forward. I think I did what was best for all of us.

From Ursula: Have you tried putting mirrors in so Willow can see you? I think sometimes the fact that babies can't see their mom or dad is what really upsets them.

From Cammie: We have been having this same problem - so frustrating because I always heard that babies LOVED riding in the car and that it was a good way to sooth them! Definitely the sun is part of our problem. It seems no matter what we do at some point some sun falls into her eyes and she gets really mad. In addition I have found that while she doesn't use a pacifier AT ALL at home, she will use it in her car seat and it does calm her down. It is so hard because I don't ever want to leave the house these days because I dread what might be a really heart wrenching scene!

From Yosemite: Us, too! DD doesn't like to ride in the car alone. She is OK, when someone is back there with her, but when she can't see us, she cries. I would like to sit up front with DH but it is easier on all of us if I sit in the back. If I have to go somewhere alone, I try nursing her till she is sleepy and then put her in the car and take off . . . doesn't always work. I always thought it was only my child that didn't like the car. Who know there were so many out there? I am going to try Ursula's suggestion of a mirror . . .we will see. I can't wait to turn her around and have her face forward. I think then it will be ok; she will be older and be able to see me.

From SusanH: We used to have this problem, but Susy seems to have gotten used to the car now. And she really likes facing front. A few things that helped were to sing songs, recite her favorite stories and play the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie over and over and over. There have been trips where I started singing Rubber Duckie as we left the parking lot and was still singing it 30 minutes later, but I'd rather listen to me sing the same song endlessly than listen to Susy cry. I try to minimize the number of times she gets in and out of the carseat - if we make a trip with a lot of different stops she gets restless and resists going back into the seat, so we don't hit too many destinations in one go. I found that if I sat in the backseat with her, she was actually more unhappy. She would get mad if I was sitting right next to her but not taking her out of the carseat. We also bought a sunshade for the side window which helped keep the sun out of her eyes. I never got one of those mirrors that Ursula mentioned, but I'm definitely getting one with the next baby, if only so I can see when she drops a toy or is asleep.

From Cath: We were pretty lucky with the boys but they had their moments. I had to pull over from time to time to breastfeed, change or console. There's NO way I could have driven safely with a crying baby in the back. One thing I found helped a lot was to hang one of those plastic-linking chains across the back of the car between the windows and hang toys off it. It was low enough not to interfere with my vision and I could vary the toys so he didn't get bored. It made our car look like a playground but it helped a lot!

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From larakay: Thanks everyone for some of the good ideas. When DH is with me I will sit in the back with her and she is totally happy Susan, I tend to agree with the number of stops thing. Willow has about a 3-stop maximum. It makes me very creative when I'm out doing my errands! And it's a darn good thing that someone enjoys my singing voice.

From Gayesy: Thomas used to be such a bad car traveler that I almost went crazy. I am sure it didn't help my PPD at the time. He would SCREAM the whole time. I think part of the problem was that in the early months, he wouldn't be happy unless he was attached or in the sling, AND he had reflux so lying down in a baby capsule thingy probably made his pain worse. It was so bad that I didn't DARE take him anywhere in the car unless there was someone else to drive and I could sit in the back with a breast shoved in his mouth. I wish I had learnt this trick earlier. Before I did that, even me sitting in the back, stroking him, with my pinky finger in his mouth, doing ANYTHING would NOT calm him down. My DH almost went nuts too! And I am NOT kidding! If I needed to go somewhere, I would catch public transport whenever I could so that I could wear Thomas in the sling. This often meant a 1 1/2 hour trip to get somewhere that I could have managed in 30 minutes in the car, but if it kept him happy and my sanity (more or less! ) intact, then it was worth it.

Then when Thomas was about 10 months old, my DH had to go into hospital over the other side of town for about 5 weeks. There was no public transport, which could get us there in less than about 3 hours! I gritted my teeth and prepared a "car box" of all sorts of stuff I could hand back to Thomas on the way there (unfortunately almost all the way was freeway, with cars traveling at about 65 mph and nowhere to stop). He was just that little bit older by now that he could manage without "the bees" for twenty minutes or so - LOL. In the box, I out all sorts of safe toys that he could squeak etc, plus household stuff like drinking straws, which he took quite a fancy to. I had enough gadgets in there so I could keep handing things back as quickly as he would get bored or drop something. Oh boy do I remember those days. Thank goodness I can report that he is just fine in the car now and has been for quite some time. He either chats with me, plays with one of his toys, or drifts off to sleep. Hang in there. I DO understand how hard it can be at times.

From traci: Thanks for the laughs guys! It makes me feel so much better to know we're not alone! 75% of the time we're fine. The other 25 is pure torture! We usually get one "free one," i.e. a trip TO somewhere. Coming home is dicey. Gayesy, you do the same thing I do. "I had enough gadgets in there so I could keep handing things back as quickly as he would get bored or drop something." I thought I was the only one chucking stuff behind my head!

From Macewan: Gotta keep this quick as I've got a cranky little one: classical music. Loud.

From wenzday: Same here! He was never better until I turned him around and put him into a big boy carseat. I did this at 9 months because I couldn't take it anymore!!! He loves to travel now. One thing that helped when we just couldn't stop was playing ABBA really loud--he would fall right to sleep!

From Shelley Cates: We turn the radio on . . . kind of loudish . . .mostly for our own sanity.

From mom.of.an.angel: What worked for me with Caitlin was we'd find a radio station that was just static and turn it up really loud. She seemed to love it . . . what a weird kid.

From Tylersmom: Tyler is the same way. I finally decided to turn him around as he was 20 lbs., and he's much happier. We don't do much driving and live in a small town with little traffic. One thing, though - he HATES riding when it's dark. He screams the whole time, no matter what!

From Liisa: OMGosh! We have started having the same problem! NOTHING helps! I sing, turn up the radio, drive with one hand while holding a binky in her mouth, one of us sits next to her . . . nothing. She doesn't cry until we start moving, then she's fine when we stop. UGH. I'm not sure how to shove a breast in her mouth without breaking my back, but I'll try anything!

From ElsieB: Thomas loves RAFFI! A friend of mine suggested it as the perfect solution for a baby who is upset in the car and I thought she was nuts. How could a baby be soothed by one particular artist for heaven's sake? It worked for us! The Raffi tape is always in the car and generally always playing when Thomas is riding with me.

From huntergirl: We had this problem with our last daughter. It really caught us by surprise because our first two LOVED riding in the car! As long as someone else was in the backseat with her, she was all right, but she would scream her lungs out if she were back there by herself. After trying absolutely everything, including sunshades, baby sunglasses, a mirror so she could see me, toys, and everything, I broke down and moved her in front. (Our car doesn't have a passenger-side airbag so that wasn't a concern.) She was so much happier and I honestly felt I was a safer driver because I was no longer distracted by a screaming baby. Happily, she's gotten out of the "car crying" phase; it seemed to end when we switched to the forward-facing position. But I'll do it again in an instant if our next baby cries in the back seat.

From t.anger: When I drive alone with Hilding I put him in the front seat next to me in his rear facing car seat. When he can see me he doesn't cry so much. I know some experts say it is safer for the child to travel in the backseat. But statistics show that it really doesn't make much of a difference. What DOES make a difference is if the child sits rear facing or facing the engine. Again, I will let statistics talk: Car accidents in Europe involving children, 1999: 50% of the children in front facing car seats were in need of hospital care, only 8% of children traveling in rear facing car seats needed medical attention. I know that there is now car seats for up to 30 lbs on the American market, or if you have the opportunity the best solution of course would be to buy an European car seat in which the child can sit rear facing for up to 3 or 4 years of age.

From glp: We used to sing Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer - with all added lines (. . . had a very shiny nose. Like a light bulb!) Don't ask but it worked! Other then that - it's one of those things that will pass, eventually!

From Kellie: I just had to put in my 2 cents worth. We tried those mirrors on the back window and could never get the darn thing to stay up. Not sure what the trick is on those suction cups, but we tried everything but gluing it on. Our first install attempt, it took 10-15 minutes to get it aligned so I could see dd from my position, but when dh was in the seat, the alignment was all off. After all that time of trying to get it aligned right, it fell off 5 minutes into our drive. Oh well. I've found that singing and short trips works best.

From mao2: I've heard that bringing the car seat into your home and letting the child get comfortable with it around and in their own terms. Good luck!

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