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Child Hates Riding in the Carseat
My 2 month old daughter HATES being put in her car seat...she seems miserable in it, and screams the entire time she is in the car. I have tried pulling over and comforting her, feeding her, waiting until she is sound asleep and the instant I set her back down into the car seat she begins to cry (before she even opens her eyes). Of course, about 10% of the time, she is fine and seems perfectly content (just to really confuse me). I used to think she was just unhappy about not being held, however I never have any trouble putting her in her bouncy seat - she is happy there for over an hour at a time. Her aversion to the car seat has made me afraid to take her anywhere - since when she wails like that I feel terrible, like I am torturing my poor child. Has anyone had similar circumstances, and if so, what did you do about it?? Diane
It also still breaks my heart when he cries back there (he's still facing backwards). At 2 months old, I did exactly what you're doing: stop, feed her, comfort her, but most of all, I would try to time drives when you know she'll either doze off, or, have someone ride with you whenever possible. At that age, I have to say, it was very stressful and I carefully planned my driving times around baby.
Later, when my son's naps were more predictible, I realized that he was most unhappy when he was overtired and couldn't fall asleep alone there. So, I then timed my drives after or well before naptime.
I hope she gets better--if not, you have a long road ahead of you--sorry for the pun. I know what helped me was to make the decision: either I'm going to pull over and try to deal with the baby, or, I'm going to turn up the music and just get to my destination! Stressing about it doesn't help and only makes driving more dangerous (easy to say, right?)
It's also hard to explain to people how upset they can get back there--everyone assumes all babies just fall right to sleep. I've just learned to say that I give in to my baby's demands when it comes to the car seat--I would never let him scream tied up in the house, so I'm also not going to do it while driving.
COngratulations on your baby. I hope things get easier for you-- everything else will, if not the carseat crying, so don't worry! Been there, too
I also tried a gizmo with lights and sounds that attached to the car seat and sat on his lap and I controlled it with a remote from the front (about $20 from Babies R Us), but that never really worked well although I heard from others it was effective. Good luck! Abby
My 4 month old hates his carseat. I have to put him in it when he is already asleep or he screams the whole time he is in it. I can't bear to let him scream...it is not a little fussing, it is all out screaming. I have all kinds of bells and whistles back there for him: mirror, remote controlled musical toy, rattles, soft toys, etc. I've tried three different car seats. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Sometimes it takes us 2 hours to go from oakland to berkeley because I'm stopping to comfort him. HELP!
The best tip we got was to bring a bottle in the car and have someone feed it to her. For trips longer than 3 hours I also brought a pump so we could give her several bottles. This absolutely saved our sanity when we drove to LA and back during Labor Day weekend.
Other ideas (not sure how effective they were, but maybe worth a shot): classical music, toy bar clipped on to the sides of the seat, try to plan car trips as your baby is getting sleepy so he/she will conk out, a mirror positioned on the back seat so you can see each other (or at least your little one can some motion when you wave).
The good news is that we just switched ours from the infant to a convertible car seat and she seems MUCH happier in general. I think the convertible seats are higher up than the infant ones and babies can see more which seems to help ours.
good luck! Kathleen
I never got used to the screaming, but I found a few things that helped. (1) I put something up for her to look at in the back seat. Those baby things they sell with the black and white contrasts and faces never really interested her. She was a huge dog fan, so we have a doggy sticker in our back windshield; (2) Once we figured out her favorite music, we could play that in an endless loop, which calmed her somewhat; (3) the Britax Round- About seemed to prop her up at a less frustrating angle, leading her to cry less often. I remember wishing I had put her in it sooner.
None of these things was fool-proof, more like band-aids that would work on occasion. She pretty much didn't like the car the whole first year of her life. Once she was forward-facing, things got more interesting for her and the fussing disappeared.
Good luck. This too shall pass... -- Ilana
There are only a couple of suggestions I can make:
1) Nurse her in the front seat before you go anywhere. This will relax her and let her know that the car is a good place, and will help her be more happy when you start.
2) If you can avoid it, don't do any more than one trip at a time (don't run a bunch of errands to different places that require getting in and out of the car).
3) Find a good chew toy. I mean it! We found that my older daughter's plastic broccoli was very popular for chewing, so that became the car toy, along with one of those silly, brightly-colored stuffed things with all the arms. The chew toy gives them something to work on when you are taking off, and distracts them from the terror of the car.
4) Go just as she's ready for nap (with the front-seat nurse). She will be upset, then fall asleep. Enough of these, and she will start thinking of it as a place to sleep.
5) My husband suggests that you should ask yourself if you are driving unsafely when she is like this. He felt that I was a seriously unsafe driver at those times, and felt better when he or someone else drove.
I don't know why my daughter had such a hard time with the car, it was as if she was utterly terrified. I did talk to someone else who had a similar problem, and they said that with very spacially-oriented babies, the action of the fast motion can be too much, and the other cars passing can be terrifying. Some babies are just sensitive, and don't like the noise or the strangeness. Horrible as it may sound, they need to be acclimatized, and that takes a little time.
However, I can attest that it will pass. Like I said, my daughter has no problem at all with the car now, as long as I don't put her in and out of it more than six times in a day. But who wants to be in the car that much?! Heather
There may not be a cure other than time. You have my sympathy 'cause it's so so stressful for mom and dad. Our best coping strategy was to be very religious about naptime so that our son would fall asleep at a predictable time. We then tried to schedule car trips for naptime. It was several weeks (months?) of effort, but he was eventually able to sleep in the car.
Funny, but now he loves the car. Elisa
My 8 month old son screams from the moment he is put in the car seat until the moment he is taken out. He is still in a rear facing seat. I am at a loss and find myself avoiding getting in the car when at all possible...but I need a life too...any advice? frazzled mama
First of all, it got better. She is now 13 months and we have not had a real ''car seat incident'' in several months. I think it improved at around 10 months? Maybe 8 or 9 months?? Not sure. It was after we graduated her to a Britax Roundabout, and although I do think she is more comfortable in the Britax, switching carseats certainly wasn't what made her stop screaming and crying in the car. Simply put, I think she just outgrew it. I think it was some weird phase.
My daughter was very, very attached to me. (She still is, but she now tolerates being away from me; I think this came [albeit gradually] with the fun of exploring the world after she learned to crawl and walk). I think the ''carseat hatred,'' as I called it, was the manifestation of something in her personality -- something hardwired, and therefore there was nothing I could do to prevent or avoid it, just things I could do to sometimes minimize the pain.
The main thing I did was to avoid the car as much as possible. Yes, it was difficult! I live in a pretty urban area, and so I could (and did, and still do) walk to do my grocery shopping, buying only as much as would fit in the stroller basket. I am staying home with her, so thankfully I did not have to put her in the car to drive to day care each day. But even with all this walking, it was difficult to avoid the car. I often felt that I was suffering as much as her, because either 1) I was giving up things I wanted to do (like going shopping for some clothes that actually fit, or going see a friend) because they involved using the car, or 2) I was suffering alongside her during those car rides, and if we were out in the car for something I wanted to do (not something I HAD to do), then I ALSO felt guilty for putting her through so much pain and suffering. It was a real no-win situation for me emotionally.
Another thing I did was to always nurse her before going anywhere in the car. The crying seemed to be more intense when she was hungry. Rather, I should say it was worse when we drove somewhere without me nursing her immediately before -- I think it wasn't really a hunger thing, but more of a reassurance thing. Also, if she was too tired when we set out, that was a prescription for disaster. The best situation was just nursed, maybe getting a little sleepy but definitely not overtired.
As I said, I think my daughter's carseat hatred was part of her personality. I think that for some reason, it was extremely difficult for her to be away from me. Even if I was riding in the back seat with her, she would cry. (I even managed to nurse her while my husband was driving, and although that helped I don't particularly recommend it). Anyway - my point is this - I think it was part of her, and she grew up a bit, got a little more confident in the world, a little more sure of herself and the fact that I was always there, she got gradually more and more at ease in the carseat. It sounds pretty basic, but it's honestly the only explanation that fits all the facts. And this is why I recommend things like avoiding the car -- if your son is like my daughter (which, granted, he may not be) then this problem is going to go away, and it will go away in its own time, so why put yourself through the pain and suffering of taking him along in the car until that time arrives? Have your groceries delivered if you can't walk to the store (webvan died but I heard commercials on the radio this week for albertsons.com and safeway.com). Send your friends an email and say, ''ok, I have this quirky kid but I'm going to try going with the flow for a month or two... can you help keep me sane while I'm semi-housebound by making a date to come visit me?'' Ask yourself how much you would pay to not have to listen to that screaming from the backseat once a week -- and then pay that to a babysitter while you go somewhere (a movie? a haircut?) in the car by yourself.
Now, as I said, your son might not be like my daughter. He could hate the carseat for an entirely different reason. For example, it could be medical. Who knows - maybe your son gets carsick easily. I did mention the problem to my daughter's pediatrician and he checked her back, hips, etc. to make sure there wasn't some physical reason that sitting in the seat would be painful for her.
Also, ask yourself: does he cry in the carseat only if it's in a moving car? Do some tests - put him in it in the house, and see if it's the CAR or the SEAT. You might try easing him into it... maybe putting him in the carseat after nursing him to sleep and, if he doesn't protest, gradually extend the amount of time he spends in the carseat like that before you try him in it in the car again. Keep in mind that (to complicate matters!) at this age he is smart enough to have negative assocations... it might actually be the moving car that bothers him (or the fear surrounding his separation from you in a moving car) but the sight of his carseat, or being in his carseat within the house, might set him off.
I know this has been a very long post, and I don't know if any of it will help you. I hope so. In his book on the fussy baby and high need child, William Sears included a page about babies who hate the carseat. He included a list of suggestions, many of which I found rather unrealistic (though I don't remember what they were now). You might want to check it out of the library. What I got most from it was the comfort that my child wasn't the ONLY one in the world who didn't fall asleep at the sound of the key in the ignition, as nearly everyone else's did. If nothing else, I hope you can get a little of that same I'm-not-the-only-one-out-there comfort from reading this long response from me! Best wishes, Sarah
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