Car Seat Crying
By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Gentle Baby Care
Some babies fall asleep almost before youíre out of the
driveway, but others wonít spend five happy minutes in their car
seats. Usually, this is because your baby is used to more
freedom of movement and more physical attention than you can provide
when sheís belted into her seat.
Even if itís difficult to deal with, remember that you and your
babyís safety are most important. Parents sometimes take a crying
baby out of the car seat, which is extremely dangerous and makes it
even more difficult for the baby to get used to riding in the car
seat. Some parents make poor driving decisions when their babies are
crying, which puts everyone in the car at risk. Either pull over and
calm your baby down, or focus on your driving. Donít try to do
The good news is that a few new ideas and a little time and
maturity will help your baby become a happy traveler. (I know,
because three of my babies were car-seat-haters!)
The trip to car seat happiness
Any one (or more) of the following strategies may help solve your
dilemma. If the first one you try fails, choose another one, then
another; eventually, youíll hit upon the right solution for your
Make sure that your baby is healthy.
If car seat crying is something new, and your baby has been
particularly fussy at home, too, your baby may have an ear infection
or other illness. A visit to the doctor is in order.
Bring the car seat in the house and let your baby sit and play in
Once it becomes more familiar in the house, she may be
happier to sit there in the car.
Keep a special box of car toys that youíll use only in the car.
If these are interesting enough, they may hold her attention.
Tape or hang toys for viewing.
You can do this on the back of the seat that your baby is facing
or string an array of lightweight toys from the ceiling using heavy
tape and yarn. Place them just at armís reach so that your baby
can bat at them from her seat.
Make a car mobile.
Link a long row of plastic baby chains from one side of the
backseat to the other. Clip new toys onto the chain for each trip.
Hang a made-for-baby poster on the back of the seat that faces
These are usually black, white, red and bold primary colors;
some even have pockets so you can change the pictures. (Remember to
do this, since changing the scenery is very helpful.)
Experiment with different types of music in the car.
Some babies enjoy lullabies or music tapes made especially for
young children; others surprise you by calming down as soon as you
play one of your favorites. Some babies enjoy hearing Mom or Dad
sing, more than anything else! (For some reason, a rousing chorus of
"Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer" has always been a good
choice for us, even out of season!)
Try "white noise" in the car.
You can purchase CDs of soothing nature sounds or you can
make a recording of your vacuum cleaner!
Practice with short, pleasant trips when your baby is in a good
It helps if someone can sit near her and keep her
entertained. A few good experiences may help set a new pattern.
Try a pacifier or teething toy.
When your baby has something to suck or chew on he may be
Hang a mirror.
That way your baby can see you (and you can see your baby)
while you are driving. Baby stores offer specialty mirrors made
especially for this purpose. When in her seat, she may think that
youíre not there, and just seeing your face will help her feel
Put up a sunshade in the window.
This can be helpful if you suspect that sunshine in your
babyís face may be a problem.
Try to consolidate trips.
Trip-chaining is effective, especially if you avoid being in
the car for long periods of time, and you donít have many
Make sure your baby hasnít outgrown her car seat.
If her legs are confined, or her belts are too tight, she my
find her seat to be uncomfortable.
Try opening a window.
Fresh air and a nice breeze can be soothing.
If all else fails . . . take the bus!
This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by