DS is almost 7 months old and has always been a car screamer. It did seem to get a little better around 4 months when he could more easily be distracted by toys, and he also started self-regulating a bit more. I could see he was unhappy but he wouldn't necessarily go straight into full-throttle bloddy-murder screaming every time. We do get some scream-free trips even.
I then started nursing him in the car when he started fussing heavily....I can sit in the next seat and still be strapped in and lean over and nurse him. Not comfortable, not the safest for me, but hey it worked. So I've been doing that for a couple months now.
Well, right now we're in the States (we live in Europe) for the holidays and been in various cars- my mom's, a rental, a car service, and for the next 2 weeks my dad's. There have been car rides where I just couldn't nurse him due to the position of the car seat. In our current situation it is very near impossible and last night I even unbuckled my own seat belt to do it, which I don't like at all. Anyway, it seems he's gotten used to the car seat nursing, and we've gotten used to peaceful, quiet car rides, because oh.my.god has the screaming gotten worse if I don't nurse him. I guess he's come to expect it, so it makes it even worse for him- not only is he unhappy being in the car seat, but he is mad and confused that I all of a sudden am not offering to soothe him with my boob anymore. He looks at me through tears like 'Come on Mama, why don't you give me your breast?'. It is heartbreaking.
I'm considering moving back up to the front seat so at least he might not expect it as much. I mean, when he's really upset and screaming, sitting next to him is no consolation. I can postpone the screaming by about 3 minutes by offering toys when I'm sitting next to him, but that's about it. Then again, it feels an awfully lot like CIO if nobody is right there next to him, kwim?
Do you think I've 'created a monster' by always nursing him in the car the last couple months? He seemed to be on the road to self-regulation and having more and more scream-free rides, and then I stepped in with the nursing and now he basically screams if he doesn't get it. When will this end? I mean, which will come first, weaning or not hating the car, lol? For more experienced mamas, when did your car-screamer finally stop hating car rides? Have any of you continued car nursing well into toddlerhood?
Sorry this is long but I feel desperate. I thought the car-screaming days were over, but that was only when I could regularly nurse him in the car. Ugh.
Mama since 2010
Multicultural living in Europe
Honestly, yes, I think you have created a monster here. I've done similar things myself so don't take that too harshly.
It really isn't safe to nurse him in the car-- not for you, and especially not for him. In a collision you could crush him. A pacifier or even a bottle would be a lot safer.
My oldest was a car-screamer but with my second and third, we've used a pacifier for the car and it really helps. You can also let him have a sippy of water or breastmilk. I might even try really diluted juice if I was desperate. He will soon learn that he can't nurse in the car. With my current babe (5mos) I have found that if I tell her where we're going and act really excited about it on the walk to the car and while buckling her in, she is a lot less likely to start wailing.
Hi PJ. I don't think you have done anything wrong. You met your baby's needs and comforted him as best you could at the moment. Exhausted drivers aren't safe, either. My ex and I dealt with this with DS1...he would scream in the car and cry most of the ride to my folk's house, which was 5 hours away. Looking back, we should have perhaps nixed long rides until it was easier for him...because as hard as it is on the adults, surely it is hard for the babies, too! A pacifier did help us sometimes. My current husband and I have an almost 9 month old and we have chosen not to use pacifiers. We have a long trip next summer than I am dreading every day. We know it might need to be a night drive in the hopes that sweet baby'll sleep. I am too small-busted to car nurse, though I unbuckled and tried it once in desperation on a 45 minute ride a few months ago. Screaming in the car, even for a few minutes is so hard...our instincts say to pick up an upset baby, and they don't understand why we can't. Earplugs help a tiny bit, but I am not able to be okay with driving for long with that kind of sadness going on. I would have to find a safe place to pull over. I kind of hate car trips myself and don't have much cause to go on them anyway, so this isn't as big an issue for us now as it was with DS1.
I got tired of my signature, but I still love my children and husband and miss my little brother.
Is he still in an infant bucket? Some babies HATE those, especially the ones with no padding (like Graco and the like). Plus, they are reclined more and traveling that way can make them feel icky. If you haven't already, I would get a nice comfy convertible and that should change things :)
I hope you find something that works :)
yeah at that age when i switched my kids to a convertible car seat it was like day and night. very minimal fussing. i think it helped my dd that she was higher up (britax) so she could actually see things other than the back of a car seat.
fwiw i still stop and nurse my 18 month old if i know he is tired and fussing/struggling to fall asleep in his the car seat. most the time he just conks out with the motion/driving so i do NOT think you are doing anything wrong/creating a monster.
i also nursed my dd in her seat and trust me she doesn't cry in her seat or ask me to nurse her at 3 years old.
We also have a car screamer. At 4 months we bought a True Fit and it made a WORLD of difference. It is possible that she would have relaxed a bit at that age anyway - but it was so night and day, I know that the carseat made a bigger difference than anything else. We then bought a Cosco Scenera to travel with and she did not dig that seat. It is great for what it is (an inexpensive backup/travel seat) but she has a hard time in it. She now falls asleep within a few minutes in her True Fit and only very rarely fusses. When she does fuss, I react differently depending on the circumstances. Usually we start with me in passenger seat and if we are going to be in the car for between 5-30 minutes when she starts screaming, I will crawl in the back and nurse her or try to soothe her. If it's less than 5 minutes I usually try to soothe her from the front seat - she will sometimes take my finger still. Longer than half an hour, we usually just pull over to give her a break.
The pacifier doesn't really work because she throws it - we did not encourage it early on and now she only takes it when she is mostly asleep. She does take the bottle though, and that seems to really help a lot. I pump and so we have lots of expressed milk in the fridge/freezer. As far as creating a monster - I personally do not think you have created a monster. You have a child whose needs you responded to. I know first hand that a baby screaming bloody murder in the backseat can be so distressing that it becomes dangerous. You did what you had to do. Moving forward, I do think it is crying it out if you just ignore the cries without responding - but that's not what you are proposing. You are hoping to take away the stimulus of your face to make it easier for your little one. It's definitely worth a try - you will know quickly whether it is going to help. If not, you can just hop in the backseat again to try to soothe your babe any way possible. It is a good idea to try other ways of soothing, but if only nursing works, if it was me - I'd probably just nurse!
Happy , delayed/selective vaxxing, WOHM to DD1 4/10 , DD2 8/12 and partner/wife for thirteen years to SAHD DH.
Mine is a screamer, too. He won't take a paci most of the time either. Now that he's older I think I'll try a sippy cup for future trips. But back to you, P.J., I think it's normal for parents to do everything in our power to make our babies stop crying. I would stay in back and stick to trying to console him, even if it costs you every last nerve you've got. At least he'll know you're trying to soothe him. With my ds I have good experience - during the day when he can see me - with putting on and keeping on a happy, letting him suck on one of my fingers or strum his lips (you know, waggle your finger up and down between your lips while humming) if he's practicing vowels - that gets him interested in the new tones he's making.
good luck, mama!
Me 41, single mom to dd 4/2001 and ds 7/17/2010
Thanks for the replies so far.
We tried and tried to get DS to take a paci, exactly for this reason, and he was never into it. He will chew and play with it, just like any other toy, but never got into sucking it, so that's out.
We have been trying to get him to use a sippy cup, thus far unsuccessfully, but lately that has fallen to the wayside. I guess I should start again with that, because a sippy with breastmilk could help. In the past, before I nursed him in the car, I would sometimes give him a bottle with breastmilk. It did help, but he always gulped it down real fast and as soon as it was empty the screaming started up again. I know he would also drop a bottle or sippy cup pretty quickly (as he does toys), so if I tried that I'd have to stay back there with him.
At home we have a bucket seat, but here for this holiday we have a Britax convertible. Unfortunately it has not made a difference.
Mama since 2010
Multicultural living in Europe
This is us. He even tugs on my arm and tries to grab my boobs when he gets uncomfortable in the car. He too also only plays with the soothers - doens't really suck on them. They make great teethers though - very chewy on the gums! lol... A sippy wouldn't work because he is sucking for comfort - not for food. I had to pump for DS1 and at first for Ds2 before we worked out this nursing thing so I certainly won't be touching a pump if I don't have to - I HATE the thing with a passion! lol
But - he is unhappy/uncomfortable in the car. Normall he is in a sling. (hes 7 months old too by the way). During the day - outside of the car...he is often at the breasts as well - so it is no surprise really that his needs would also be the same in the car.
We can manage about 10-15 minutes journeys without him getting too upset (before he needs boob)....but for us around here, that doens't get us very far! I am happy to lean over (uncomfortably) and nurse him so he is happy. I will not leave him to cry.
One thing that I have found that helps both of us...is waiting until he is tired to go on a long trip. That way I effectively nurse him to sleep in the car and then we can both be comfortable for the rest of the journey because I can put my boob away - sit back down comfortably and he just sleeps the rest of the trip! Shop for a good while - then head back home when he is tired again! lol
I had a car seat screamer and, unfortunately for us, nothing helped but time. It didn't matter if I sat back there with him, gave him toys, sang songs, just nothing helped. It was so bad that when we went to a funeral 10 hours away, we left ds2 (who was 9.5 months old at the time) with my grandmother for his first overnight away. I just couldn't subject him to that long of a car ride when I knew it'd be torture for everyone in the car.
When ds was about 14 months old, the screaming started to abate. Now, at 21 months old, we've been riding scream free for about 4 months. We can make a 4 hour trip and he only starts to get antsy at the end.
During our peak screaming times, I hate to say it, but he just had to scream. There was nothing wrong other than the fact that he didn't want to be strapped into the seat (I'd take him out and he would instantly smile and want to get down and play). I'd stop once an hour or so on long trips (we frequently travel w/o my dh) and that helped, but I couldn't pull over every time he started to cry or a 4 hour trip would've easily doubled in time. I always talked to him to let him know I was sorry he had to stay strapped in but it was the safe thing and that I was here, but we had to make the trip and not riding in a seat is not an option.
Wife to an amazing man , mommy to 3 wild dudes: ds1 (5/23/05 @ 30 weeks), ds2 (3/5/09) , and ds3 (9/26/10) . Part time librarian, full time mommy, occasional chef and maid.