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Driving alone with baby in the back seat

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Today I went to my 6 week PP appointment with my MW. DD cried...and then screamed...in the back seat almost all the way there. It broke my heart. I felt so awful. I ended up scanning every radio station until something came on that calmed her (Michael Jackson ended up doing the trick) and I had the volume up LOUD. I just felt so bad she was crying. It felt like I was leaving her to CIO, because I was driving and couldn't soothe her or attend to her needs. Do you think she felt like I was leaving her to CIO, and all the negative things that go with it?

I'm to the point where I have anxiety over leaving the house alone with her, because I don't want her to get so upset.

Thoughts?
post #2 of 26
Um, your baby is tiny - it's normal. Mine did the same thing and there were many times where I drove somewhere and we BOTH ended up crying. I frequently had to stop the car and get in back to comfort him. It took twice as long to get anywhere. The worst is being on a highway where there's no place to stop and the next exit is 10 miles away.

There's not much of a solution. At 6 months, DS still fusses and sometimes cries in the car seat but he never screams like he did as a newborn anymore. The only thing you can do is not drive at all, but of course that's not feasible. No, it's not CIO because you're not doing it to teach him to self-soothe. It's just an unfortunate situation that you can do your best to minimize the effects of. I assume you hold and comfort her as soon as you get where you're going, right?

post #3 of 26
I always found that DD would be much more content if I made sure to feed her right before we left. Sometimes, I would feed her in the back seat (right before strapping her into her car seat! LOL!). It sometimes helps to check on the diaper situation (wet or soiled?) and the comfort of the clothing (too warm or too cold?), too. Plus, leaving right before a nap time is handy.
post #4 of 26
that's tough one, mama.

you might want to get an mj tape or cd. or make one of you singing? maybe hearing your voice evn if she can't see you would help. you might also try one of those mirrors that allow you to see each other....

sometimes its just unavoidable.....its not cio, it's just life
post #5 of 26
There are going to be times when your baby wants something that isn't safe or possible at the moment, and not getting that thing may be upsetting. But you aren't abandoning your child to deal with it on your own, you're staying there with her, talking to her, telling her you'll be out of the car soon, etc.

While it sucks for both of you, I just don't think it's going to have some kind of terrible long-term effect. I would try to let myself off the hook for that one, you know?
post #6 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by lalemma View Post
There are going to be times when your baby wants something that isn't safe or possible at the moment, and not getting that thing may be upsetting. But you aren't abandoning your child to deal with it on your own, you're staying there with her, talking to her, telling her you'll be out of the car soon, etc.

While it sucks for both of you, I just don't think it's going to have some kind of terrible long-term effect. I would try to let myself off the hook for that one, you know?

Do you think leaving a baby to cry in a crib can have some kind of terrible long term effect? I'm not trying to make the OP feel bad, but the truth is, the baby doesn't know if he's being left to cry because his parents want him to go to sleep on his own, or because they need to get somewhere. Granted, some travel by car alone with one's baby ios proabbly unavoidable, but to say it's not bad for the baby to cry is not accurate. OP - I would try to avoid driving as much as possible until your little one is calmer in the car.

- it's tough.
post #7 of 26
It sucks but most babies grow out of it. DD use to scream bloody murder in the car. Then finally one day she was okay with it. MIL tried to say it was because she was use to riding in the car, but really it was because she was older. And we tried everything! I use to have to sit in the back seat while DH drove. And it was the only time I ever gave DD a paci, which of course she only chewed on and never sucked!
post #8 of 26
Quote:
but to say it's not bad for the baby to cry is not accurate.
I think there are situations where a baby is going to cry, and there's nothing you can do about it in that immediate moment except be with the baby and let him or her know you're there. IMO, it's just not possible to raise a baby and never ever have the baby get upset. But I don't think that's the goal. I think the goal is to let the baby grow into the knowledge that his or her needs will be responded to, even if the response isn't always the perfectly soothing one.

I recently took a friend who had a minor medical crisis to her acupuncturist, and she couldn't hold her baby during the treatment. So I held him and walked around and sung to him for thirty minuts, and he wasn't happy- he would naturally have much rather been with his mom! But that just wasn't possible in that moment, and I just don't share the perspective that it possibly caused long-term damage to that little boy. He was with someone who was responding to his needs, even if that response wasn't exactly what he wanted. To me, there's a pretty big difference between being with someone who is upset and providing a calm energy that says "I'm sorry you're upset. I'm here with you, and this will be over soon." and putting that person in a room by themselves and walking away for a long period of time.
post #9 of 26
This is precisely the reason I started using a paci in the car. It really helps him keep calm since he hates the car. My dd2 did as well and grew out of it at about four months. I admit I don't (and didn't then) use the car much.

On another note - I met a mom last week who swears by swaddling her baby's arms in the carseat (arms only) to help him stay calm in the car. It seems not very safe to me. Anyone have any thoughts about this?
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthie's momma View Post
I always found that DD would be much more content if I made sure to feed her right before we left. Sometimes, I would feed her in the back seat (right before strapping her into her car seat! LOL!). It sometimes helps to check on the diaper situation (wet or soiled?) and the comfort of the clothing (too warm or too cold?), too. Plus, leaving right before a nap time is handy.
All excellent advice.

OP, don't beat yourself up. My Emma, 3 months now, has had some car trips where she would cry. It is SOOOO nerve-wracking. If you have to pull over and get in the backseat with her for a minute, do it. But definitely, talk to her, let her hear your voice, so at least she isn't feeling alone (which is NOT CIO, I disagree with the PP who said that). If you're almost to your destination, and it's not absolute screaming, just get there, get her out, let her comfort nurse for a few minutes, check the diaper, hold her and comfort her. If she's screaming, or you're starting to panic, pull over for a few minutes so that you can touch her and talk to her, even if you don't get her out of the carseat.

It's rarely practical to just not go anywhere until the baby grows up. Just talk to her so that she knows she's not alone.
post #11 of 26
ktmama - I don't see how swaddling the arms would be unsafe - unless it is interfering with the harness.

I truly feel crying in the car is different than cio. In the car you are there, baby can hear your voice, maybe even have a hand laid upon them (depending on the set up) whereas cio no one is there, they receive no interaction.

To say a baby is being damaged by crying in the car is unfair & oversimplifying the problem. Honestly does that then mean that anytime a baby cries & is not immediately consoled (which most definitely can happen even in arms) they're being hurt/scarred? Absolutely not.

Obviously while lo is adjusting to the reality of the carseat a parent needs to do whatever they safely can to comfort baby & help them through it. That may mean temporarily restricting car rides to necessary trips only, stopping frequently, singing, talking soothingly, working hard to stay calm yourself, having someone in the back whenever possible, using a soother when perhaps normally you wouldn't, planning trips for naptimes, etc.

You are doing your best to meet dc's needs & that is all that anyone can expect.
post #12 of 26
I could never do it- I can't just drive on while she screams. Couldn't do it at 6 weeks, can't do it at 6 months. I never went to my 6 week check-up because of it (the office was 45 minutes away). At 10 weeks what should have been a 20 minute drive home from the chiro took 2 hours because I kept pulling over to get her out of the carseat, nurse, rock. That day was so traumatic for both of us I vowed to never leave the house without someone to drive us around so I could sit in back with her.
Luckily she started taking a paci shortly after that trip & things got a little better. I can sing to her and that helps now. I can reach her to put her paci back in her mouth if she looses it, or just to touch her face or hold her hand. I bought a pink elephant that hangs off the handle of her seat & it plays music- she can make him play or I can reach it too.
It will get better. In the meantime it's better for baby (and for your stress level) to hold off on leaving the house until you have someone who can drive you both around.
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktmama View Post
On another note - I met a mom last week who swears by swaddling her baby's arms in the carseat (arms only) to help him stay calm in the car. It seems not very safe to me. Anyone have any thoughts about this?
I did this with my daughter! I used Swaddle Me blankets because I'm not smart enough to figure out how to swaddle with a blanket. Those things are awesome, they have a slit in the back specifically for the carseat buckle. You feed the buckle through the slit, pull the wings under the straps, strap your baby in, then swaddle OVER the straps. For awhile, it was the only way to keep her from getting hysterical in the car.
post #14 of 26
mama. the car is so unpredictable for us. sometimes DS will fall asleep, sometimes he will scream the whole time..

He DID however start being a little happier once we switched to a convertible carseat rather than infant carseat, and now that he can play with some toys in the back.

What about a hanging toy, like a PP suggested, or a mirror where she can see herself?
post #15 of 26
I think it's normal for tiny ones to cry in the car seat.

Here's the thing - lots of new experiences are challenging for very young ones, because they were used to a warm, floaty, lovely environment where everything was taken care of without any muss or fuss. The outside world is tough. I'd cry, too!

Once they get bigger they can handle the car seat (and things in general, ha ha) much more easily. Then when they get past a certain point they are cranky again in the car seat until they are old enough to sit in a front facing car seat. Then they are OK for a while, and then they start getting cranky until they can sit in the big boy seat. Then they are OK for a while, and then they get cranky until they can drive the car. :

It's just the passing of ages and stages. No need to fear, just be there to love and comfort, and go about your life as best you can. You can't let fear of a crying baby keep you home bound, it will make you crazy!!
post #16 of 26
I didnt read all the posts so sorry if I repeat something. First, crying in the car seat is normal. they cry regardless of where they are and it happens when your driving too. I also had that heart breaking feeling when DS was newborn where I was driving and could not pick him up. Even if I had my mom in the back seat with me I can easily recall 2 occasions when he was newborn that I just had to pull over because he could not be consoled. You are the best judge for your DD to know when enough crying is enough or what she needs. I can tell when DS is crying but will fall asleep or calm down on his own or if hes gonna need me to calm him down. I can say this, it does get better with age. If this is your first then you worry much more. I am a single mom so 99% of the time I am driving alone with DS in the backseat. I have noticed that when I am not in a rush to console him he learns to sooth himself (and no I dont believe in the cry it out method. I would never leave him crying like that) otherwise they then expect you to pull over and console them which is just not practical on a day to day life. It will get better mama. Hugs.
post #17 of 26
Baby will grow out of it. For the most part, it's the unfamiliar straps and the motion that bothers them, I think.

Make sure to nurse right before getting onthe road. Of course, make sure the baby is comfortable.

If the baby is crying/screaming and it's too much for you/causes anxiety/makes you feel like it's unsafe to drive, get off the road, calm the baby and yourself, and then get going again.

It'll get better!
post #18 of 26
My first two hated the car, nothing helped, I just ended up rarely driving because it wasn't worth it. Now I have 3 children, the baby does ok most of the time. As long as he is fed, has a paci, and the car trip is limited to 10-15 minutes then I can usually get there. Sometimes it doesn't happen, he just wants to be held, but with two other children and a tight schedule to keep, I have no choice other then just to drive.


I agree that they don't know the difference between me leaving him in crib to cry or in his carseat, only I know that, that doesn't make it any easier to listen to so I try to limit our driving beyond what I have to do. I make DH run all the errand on the weekends, and don't make extra stops. If I go in for a gymnastics class then I tack on a swimming lesson right after so I don't have to come back to town at a different time.
post #19 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by _betsy_ View Post
For the most part, it's the unfamiliar straps and the motion that bothers them, I think.

Make sure to nurse right before getting on the road. Of course, make sure the baby is comfortable.
She actually likes the motion (she cries at red lights) , but yes, she HATES the car seat straps. We have a Graco Snugride, and I hate the straps, too. It is so hard to get them tight enough for safety and then to get her arms inside the tight straps. It's also VERY hot here right now, and she gets sweaty in the seat.

I do nurse her right before we leave. But sometimes she is inconsolable. Even at our destination, if I put her in her carrier, she is still upset. Nothing but getting home seems to work.

Tomorrow we leave for a vacation to see DHs family, and this trip involves two flights, followed by a 3 hour car ride. UGH!!! At least DH and I will be together, so one of us can be in the back seat with DD.
post #20 of 26
Please check the straps to ensure you don't have them too tight. Babies can't breathe properly if the straps are too tight. And obviously too loose is a safety issue. Here's a link with pictures on how to check:

http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=49030

Some other things:

Definitely nurse baby before putting in carseat, but also be sure to burp her. Eating then going into that squashed position can make gas pains much worse.

Check baby's diaper before putting her in the seat.

Encourage baby to take a pacifier if possible, during car rides.

Make sure baby is not in an uncomfortable outfit, where tags, buttons, or snaps might be pressing into her back. ETA: Make sure no clothes are too tight.

Make sure the strap covers are in place so the straps aren't digging into baby's neck.

Make sure car and carseat are not hot. Use a fold out window shade in summer.

Leaving a baby to CIO in a carseat is not healthy, IMO. There are times when it may be impossible to pull over immediately, but I've found that it's a lot better to stop and pull baby out to nurse for a few minutes than to continue to leave her to cry alone in the car seat.

Sometimes singing or music can be a good distraction, but always check to make sure other things (hunger, comfort, temperature, etc.) are okay first. Otherwise you're just masking the issue and not addressing the cause.

And last but not least, if you're using an infant seat you might want to look at switching to a convertible seat.


It sucks to have a baby who's unhappy in the car, I know.
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