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DD's car anxiety is interferring with regular interactions with the outside world

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

DD has never cared for the car and cries the duration of the trip if I am compelled to drive and she has sit alone in the backseat. We figured out pretty quickly that me sitting in the backseat with her= contentment and tranquility for all of us. 

 

 

Mirrors don't help. Singing and making animal noises helps... sometimes. Music doesn't help. White noise doesn't help. Me reaching back to stroke her face only makes her more agitated. Stopping to nurse/comfort her/take her out only angers her more when I have to put her back in her seat.  Me reciting our favorite books helps for a minute or two. A pacifier doesn't help. 

 

The bawling and screaming during our car trips have really put a damper on our excursions. I'd love to take her to the zoo (we have a membership), orchards, the pumpkin patch, etc but the drives cause us both so much anxiety that it is hardly worth the 20-30 minute drive. Of course we still go out and grocery shop and complete bare necessities. But the fun stuff is kind of... on hold.

 

Given that she is almost a year old, what is a developmentally appropriate expectation for her? I want to respect her discomfort and avoid putting her through stressful experiences that can be easily avoided. But we have a just as valid need to get out and interact with the world. She thrives on it (once we arrive). 

 

I would really appreciate words of encouragement and reassurance, as well as coping techniques. 

 

I can't wait for the day that she enjoys car rides. That probably won't happen until she is FF, which will be awhile... :(

 

post #2 of 29

Screen time is obviously not ideal at this age but a portable dvd player may work for you. It would give her a visual & audio distraction. It sounds like you've tried so many different things.

post #3 of 29

Another thing you didn't mention trying is a snack.  My kids didn't really eat food at that age, but it could be a good distraction for them sometimes.  Of course, you have to be careful that it's something she couldn't choke on.

 

If I was you I might be tempted to turn her forward just for one ride and see what happens.  If she is happy while facing forward, I'd be inclined to think it's car sickness, and maybe you could find something to address that.  I don't how you could know for sure whether it's car sickness or not, but I got terribly car sick when I was a kid (and still sometimes!) and it was pretty yucky.  I could see screaming through the whole trip if that's how she feels.  

 

Does she ever sleep in the car?  Maybe you could try to schedule outings for nap time and put her in the car either asleep or very tired.  Bring a book or some knitting with you and just hang out in the car when you get there.  Today I worked on some hand-sewing in the car for about an hour in the grocery store parking lot.  I never would have thought that would be a nice way to spend an afternoon, but it was actually really nice.  

 

As for when she'll be done with it, developmentally, I don't know because my boys have always been pretty okay with the car.  But I think it will probably help when she gets a little verbal.  My older ds started talking pretty late --  like 2, but went from not talking to really talking overnight it seemed, and one of the first things he told me was that he didn't like it when I put the windows down in the car.  He didn't cry or complain before he told me, but I am sure that there were quite a few months where he was just gritting his teeth through it until he could tell me.  But if your dd talks on a more normal schedule, I think you guys could probably talk through it long before two.  

post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 

She does eat regular snacks and meals. We have tried food in her carseat, but she's at the stage where she nibbles then throws things overboard. It is a matter of seconds before her snack is laying on the seat next to her and she's back to bawling.

 

She does sleep in the car if I am back there with her. If I have to drive, she will crash from pure exhaustion if I let her go long enough crying, but I try to avoid it getting to that point because then she's hot, sweaty, and pumped full of cortisol. And it's just sad. :(

 

I do wonder if she gets carsick. I'm hesitant to face her forward though even for a day---- I feel that could potentially make things worse because of the disappointment and confusion involved in being switched back around after FF. And if I did FF, would she be happy and content because carsickness is alleviated, or because she is finally getting an interesting and comforting view? There is really know way to know for sure until she can talk. Based on her personality, I tend to think she is just bored, frustrated, and lonely back there. She is an engaging, observant, social child who thrives on taking in the world around her. Her car seat is so limiting, poor thing. It is very possible she is getting queasy, though. 

 

 

 

 

post #5 of 29

Do you live in an area with public transit?  If so, I'd use that.  Or see if you can find a friend to come along who wouldn't mind sitting in the back seat with your DD.

 

My son hated the car until he was 2y or so.  He stayed rearfacing until he was 4y, so the car anxiety/hatred was just something he had to outgrow.  We walked and took the bus quite often.  

post #6 of 29

I can only offer support in this situation.  My dd was the same way.  We did turn her around FF at 1 yr. because it crippled us to the point that we LITERALLY went 6 months not going out without dh driving and me in the back seat.  She would cry herself sick (throwing up) if we went anywhere in the car with me driving.  I have no solutions, but commiseration.  When we turned her around, she was happy as a clam and has never had issues with the car since then.  Back then (9 years ago), the recommendation was 20lbs. and 1 yr.  If it were today, knowing what I know, I would seriously have to weigh safety vs. sanity.  I know this post doesn't offer any helpful advice, but know that you are not alone and others have come through on the other side with happy, healthy passengers in the later years.  winky.gif  Good luck!

post #7 of 29

My first was like that, and yes, I turned her FF at her 1st birthday.  It helped a ton.  Now, she's 6, almost 7, and she does get carsick if there isn't any air blowing on her and she's in the back of the van.  The car we had when she was a baby had no backseat air vents.

 

Anyway, if you do have a car with backseat air vents, try having them point directly on her.

post #8 of 29

Have you always had the same carseat?  Some aren't as comfortable as others.

 

My DS hated car rides, but holding a finger of mine would usually work for him.  When it didn't work, I guess we're just mean people (and/or we have another child already and we can't just do whatever DS wanted)... He toughed it out and he did get over it.  We were nice, tried to comfort him, etc, but when it came down to it he knew we were driving somewhere and that was that.  I couldn't fit back there with him.  I gave him toys toys sometimes.  He did get used to it.  For us, realizing a dairy intolerance made a positive difference.

 

Tjej

post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnaBees Mama View Post

 

I do wonder if she gets carsick. I'm hesitant to face her forward though even for a day---- I feel that could potentially make things worse because of the disappointment and confusion involved in being switched back around after FF. And if I did FF, would she be happy and content because carsickness is alleviated, or because she is finally getting an interesting and comforting view? There is really know way to know for sure until she can talk. Based on her personality, I tend to think she is just bored, frustrated, and lonely back there. She is an engaging, observant, social child who thrives on taking in the world around her. Her car seat is so limiting, poor thing. It is very possible she is getting queasy, though. 

 


 

I always expected my little one would be thrilled when we turned him forward, but it didn't seem to make a lot of difference to him at all.  When he was rear facing, he'd sit back there and tell me about everything he was seeing and get excited about garbage trucks and trains and things, just like he does forward facing.  I turned him forward a couple of months ago, at about 2 1/2, because he could only rear face in the middle and had to be right next to his brother and they were not happy that way at all.  But I don't think he would have been unhappy about the rear facing, just about the fighting with brother.  So, I'm wondering if her seat is particularly low.  Maybe if she's in a bucket, you could try one of the bigger kid seats with her (I have no idea what you call them, I just mean the ones that aren't a bucket).  If it doesn't work out, you'll need one eventually anyway.  

 

I really wish there were some way to know if your baby was carsick.  I agree that FF happiness wouldn't always mean it was car sickness.  I worried about it a lot and felt terrible if my kids were upset in the car because I didn't know if they were just irritated and bored or really felt like crap.  

post #10 of 29

This is tough, DD did the same until we got her a convertible car seat -which obviously you've done by now, but I wonder if getting a really big, squishy one with extra room would help?  Seeing as how she's so close to a year, I agree about turning her around.  You'll only know by trying it, if it works, I see leave it that way, if not you know you tried.  It sounds to me though like she just wants to be with you.  I also like the portable DVD player idea.  DD is 13 months and also at the throwing things stage, but perhaps it could be clipped somehow to her window?  Good luck Mama -no fun.

post #11 of 29

Maybe having a few special toys just for the car would help? Is there any way you can organize the un-fun things so you don't need to go in the car? I order my groceries online and have them delivered because I don't drive.... if your area has that service, it'd be one less time you need to be in the car, and maybe one more time you're willing to suffer it for something fun?

 

It'll probably get better when she understands where you're going before you get there... when you do go to the zoo or the park or the pool, it might help to say "Yay! We're a the zoo! Do you like the zoo?" and use the word ZOO a lot so she'll know next time when she hears that word that she's going somewhere good. I can't remember what age they are developmentally able to remember names for places like that, so I'm sorry if this is a really dumb idea!

post #12 of 29

I know that it's not popular on here but NOTHING helped my ds2 until we FF him at 1 yr old. Every trip was a nightmare until then. If I were you ( and I've been there) I would  forward face the seat as soon as possible.

post #13 of 29

Turn her around!

post #14 of 29

I would totally turn her.

post #15 of 29

I would definately try some other things before turning around!

 

Is she in a convertable seat?  Is it reclied or sat up?  Is the fabric comfortable for your climate?  You can figure out if it is the carseat or the motion by trying her out in the carseat in the house.

 

You might want to cross-post in Family Safety for some more ideas of car distractions.

post #16 of 29
Thread Starter 

Oh my, I just spent the last half hour responding to each and every one of you and then I lost my reply :( URRRGH!

 

I need to go to bed so I'll make this short.

 

RE: her car seat

We moved DD from her bucket to a convertible when she was three months old. She is in a Britax Boulevard, and seems to be comfortable in her seat from what I can tell. She gets hot and sweaty when she's been crying, but there is not much I can do about that other than bumping up the A/C or cracking some windows. 

 

RE: FF facing

Believe me, it is so tempting. I KNOW it will relieve a lot of her anxiety. DH and I will seriously discuss this as a viable option. However, at the moment I have no intentions of turning her around before she completely outgrows her car seat. She is in the 95th percentile across the board, so it will be sooner than later anyway. I can't help but think I'd rather have a crying, anxious child than a tragically injured child--- or worse, no child at all. I could never live with myself if something happened to her, and it was due to her FF too early...

 

RE: DVD players

Not against them, but I am concerned about them becoming a projectile, even if they are fixed to part of the interior. We have given DD our cell phones to watch movies on, but she either loses interest in a couple minutes and goes back to bawling, or she throws the phone over the side of her seat and goes back to bawling :/

 

RE: air flow

Ah, yes--- she doesn't get much unless the windows are down. The only vents in the backseat blow right on the back of the carseat. Even angled, she doesn't get much more than a light stir. I'm sure that can't help any potential car sickness she might be experiencing. It will be something we'll keep in mind. We have tried rolling down windows for her when she's agitated but it hasn't seemed to make a difference.

 

RE: food intolerance

DD is sensitive to dairy at the time. Her bottom breaks out in a rash if she consumes dairy beyond hard cheese. We have been aware of her sensitivity for the last couple months, and eliminating these foods hasn't made a difference in the car. Still, she might be having a problem with a certain food and we just haven't discovered it yet. Taking note, thanks for the suggestion.

 

I will x-post this on Family Safety.

 

Thanks everyone!

 

 

 

 

post #17 of 29

I would not turn her FF.  She is significantly safer RF. Chances are it's illegal to FF her at her age (less than 1y) in your state.  Also, recommendations are to RF for a minimum of 2y.  There's a reason these safety recommendations exist--they save lives.  

 

My DS was/is also in a Blvd.  I think the headwings block a lot of view, so that was part of his complaint when he was younger.

 

At her age, you can install the Blvd fairly upright--up to 30° instead of 45°.  That may make a difference.  You don't change the recline mechanism, you just install it a bit differently--push down where her feet go while installing instead of where her butt goes.  And you can pull it out from the bight about an inch if that makes it easier and you can still get a solid install.

post #18 of 29

We had similar problems with DD.  It did limit our activities.  How could I justify a trip to the zoo if she was going to scream in terror the entire ride there?  I remember one trip the grocery store where I had to stop as soon as we could get off the road because her screaming was so horrible I couldn't stop shaking enough to drive the last 5 minutes home.  

 

DH started bribing her with a small cookie every time we got in the car.  I initially cringed at the habit, but it did help.  She started going into the seat without a 45 minute struggle to buckle her in.  She also started staying calmer.  One thing I figured out was that she was hungry on many of the trips where she really freaked out.  I made sure that she always was well fed (generally nursing right before) every time we would get in the car.  

 

Over time she got better.  Sometimes she now even asks to go in the car.  We are able to go to the museum and farmstead without it being a huge ordeal.  I would just give it time and try to limit car trips for now.

post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnaBees Mama View Post

 

RE: air flow

Ah, yes--- she doesn't get much unless the windows are down. The only vents in the backseat blow right on the back of the carseat. Even angled, she doesn't get much more than a light stir. I'm sure that can't help any potential car sickness she might be experiencing. It will be something we'll keep in mind. We have tried rolling down windows for her when she's agitated but it hasn't seemed to make a difference.

 

 



I remember years ago seeing that you could somehow hook up a large hose (not a water hose) to redirect air.  You might want to try that or attaching one of the small, portable fans. I understand your concern about projectiles, though.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jocelyndale View Post

At her age, you can install the Blvd fairly upright--up to 30° instead of 45°.  That may make a difference.  You don't change the recline mechanism, you just install it a bit differently--push down where her feet go while installing instead of where her butt goes.  And you can pull it out from the bight about an inch if that makes it easier and you can still get a solid install.



If you haven't done this already, definatley do.  Many older infants hate the reclined position!  I know we went right to fully sat up when we moved the kids into convertables.

 

 

post #20 of 29

I think you need to balance you and your child's comfort with safety here.

 

I believe that our cultures obsession with safety at all costs has gone too far in may areas, and is often driven by corporate profits, rather than common sense. I do not believe that the drive behind all of the states varying car seat laws was pushed through by anything other than car seat manufactures seeing a way to force parents to by 2, 3 or even 4 different car seats per child (because car seats are made of such crappy materials that they become unsafe after 3 to 5 years of use so you can't re use them.) Some of the safety guidelines are just ridiculous to me. We can never fully protect anyone in a moving vehicle. the danger will never be zero. At a certain point it just becomes ridiculous to worry that you are not squeezing one more statistical point out of your safety habits, especially when balancing safety against other, very real, very important considerations.

 

I don't think that you should do something you are uncomfortable with, like you said, you are not comfortable turning your DD around yet. But in that case I think you need to adjust your travel habits to keep your DD as comfortable as possible. It's just not acceptable to cause that much stress to a small child on a regular basis.

 

Your DD will grow, she will adjust and be more comfortable in the car. If the issue is being rear facing, eventually she will be big enough for you to feel comfortable turning her around and then you will be able to travel in the car more. In the mean time, I think you have gotten some excellent ideas here for what else to try. I empathize with your dilemma, I really do. Each of my kids went through a period like this somewhere around the one year mark too.

 

It is very challenging to know what the right thing to do is. I think you are on the right track with following your heart, and doing what is says is best for you and your child. I think it is always better to do what seems right in your heart, even if it turns out to be wrong, than to live with doing something that goes against your heart and it turns out to be wrong.

 

 

 

 

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