Car Seats and Crying Babies - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 08-08-2013, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
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I am almost due with #4.  I have had an issue with ALL my babies crying in the car.  I can't understand these parents with little ones that love the car and fall asleep.  Mine scream like they are dying. My theory behind this is I've always been an attachment parent.  My babies are pretty much glued to me 24/7. I don't believe in pacifiers and nurse on demand which seems constantly.  So when we go anywhere they are suddenly strapped in an uncomfortable seat, backwards, alone, with motion and they scream! I don't handle crying and can't let them cry and choke in their seats, so I stop, and stop, and stop and nurse to calm.  It has taken me 2 hours to make a 15 minute trip in the past.  I have tried out of desperation pacifiers in the car to no avail.  

My midwife recommended that I never use an infant car seat and go straight to a big one. She says babies that cry in the car often don't in the bigger seat.  However my friend's son is also a car screamer and he has always had a big seat.  So before #4 comes and we are trapped at home unable to travel with a screaming baby- does anyone have any suggestions or things that worked for them? 

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#2 of 14 Old 08-08-2013, 01:12 PM
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Sometimes you just have to let them cry. 10 or 15 minutes won't harm the baby and then when you get to your destination you can comfort and nurse. My kids haven't taken pacifiers either and comfort nurse all the time at home. This next baby I am tempted to give a pacifier too from the start just for such times.

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#3 of 14 Old 08-09-2013, 06:56 PM
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DD didn't take a pacifier either and cried in the car (not all the time, but often enough). We used a large convertible car seat rather than an infant seat, though I'm not sure how that would make a difference? Unless the suggestion is to turn them forward-facing early which I don't agree with at all.


What I ended up doing was twisting my arm behind me and letting DD suck on my finger while I drove. This seemed to calm her and I could touch her hair and face too once she calmed a bit and didn't need to suck. I'll tell you it was not much fun for my shoulder, especially since we had that tall convertible seat, but it worked, mostly anyway. Eventually some toys or whatever I found in my purse or the car would work too so long as it was novel enough (I started keeping an assortment of weird baby-safe objects in the center console, lol). They would get tossed away quickly and I'd hand her another. Of course non-toy items were always more interesting to her.

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#4 of 14 Old 08-24-2013, 07:59 PM
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My son loved the car -- was the only way he'd nap after he hit a year old. My daughter (now 9 months) has always hated it. Both kids were worn, nursed on demand, etc. Only difference is Audrey prefers to sleep in her own space whereas Ryan was my cosleeper (and still is at 5). 

With my daughter -- we switched to a convertible, didn't help. We had chiro adjustments. Didn't help. Never could get her to take a paci. Stopping and nursing only excarbated the issue when I put her back in the carseat and she screamed harder and longer so I stopped doing that. Toys didn't help. The light up singy mirror didn't help. The only thing that helped was really loud (as in, could feel the bass) rock music. Which my son hated. Ha. 

So... she cried. a lot. If it was a trip that would be less than 20 minutes, I didn't stop at all. The few times we had to go 30-45 minutes, I'd stop at the halfway point and get out and comfort her (without removing her from the seat). 

Now at 9 months old, she's iffy. Sometimes she hates it, sometimes she's okay with it. It's just something that she's growing out of (or in to?). 

Good luck, mama! <3 

Also, with three other kids -- maybe the other ones can help entertain the baby in the carseat? Ryan is helpful in that regard a lot... he'll sing and hold her hand and do things like that with her which helps when she's getting fussy. 

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#5 of 14 Old 08-24-2013, 08:26 PM
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Oh, I feel you.


DS's first four months were absolutely hellish for car rides.  I really don't know what she hated about the carseat so much, but now at 5 months, she is doing A LOT better.... 


Some things that we had success with:

The pacifier.  I know you said you don't really use them, but they were pretty much a lifesaver on some trips.  When she was a newborn, one of us often sat in the backseat and actually held the pacifier in since she wasn't very successful at keeping it in herself.  Could one of your older children reach LO#4 to help hold the paci in? 


Putting her in the carseat just after she had fallen asleep.  this one took a lot of planning in advance.  We would get the car loaded with bag and whatever else we were taking, get DS in (he's 3) start the car, and then wait for her to drift off.  Ever so gently, I'd place her in the carseat and tighten the straps ridiculously slowly so as not to wake her up.  Then carry the carseat out to the car and go.  This worked pretty well most of the time.  She would take a regular length nap while the car was running, so it was good for a hour or so trip.   


We did what we jokingly called "conditioning" at times.  When I would put her into the carseat initially, I would smile excessively, talk super sweet talk, and try to be insanely happy/give her positive vibes about the carseat.  I'd spend a good 5 or 10 minutesgiving her lots of love while she sat in the carseat... and then bring her out to the car.  


Putting something into her hands, even when she was a newborn/infant seemed to help.  As soon as she could grasp, I would put one of those plastic play rings in each of her hands before we started driving.  She would grip them for most of the trip.  


Now at 4 and 5 months, plastic rings hanging from the carseat handle are pretty much what keeps her happy and entertained.  (i know, they aren't recommended for use while driving, but....)


I totally hear where you are coming from on the crying.  I often stopped and held her or nursed if she started crying.  It took us forever to get places sometimes, too.  for the sake of practicality, I try to tough out about 5 minutes of crying.  I can't in good conscience let it go longer than that.  But to be realistic, I do let her fuss/cry for a bit if I know I am just a few more minutes from our destination.  Especially since I know I'm going to get her out of the car as soon as we get there and hold her....  Hope that helps some....

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#6 of 14 Old 08-25-2013, 04:12 AM
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Both of mine have hated their carseats for periods of time as well. It's awful! And we've only ever used convertible seats.

Toys helped when they were older but not when they were tiny. The thing which helps the most is singing. We just had to find the right song. For DD1 it was twinkle twinkle little star. For DD2 it is Galoomph went the little green frog.

Time is the only real cure though :-(
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#7 of 14 Old 08-25-2013, 10:13 AM
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Oh gosh, I know what you mean.  My first only cried on long trips, which I completely understand.  My second doesn't care for even a 15-minute trip sometimes!   I'm an AP as well.  I absolutely hate letting babies cry too.


First, I try to make baby a priority before I leave the house.  I make sure she's clean and dry, and I nurse her before I go anywhere. 


If she's wide awake and alert, I make sure she has something to entertain her - a couple of toys or teethers with different textures.  If she's sleepy, I often sing softly from the front seat.  I always have two pacifiers at hand in the cup-holder so I can pass one back to her.  I didn't give pacifiers for the first 2 months to either of my children, but I'm glad I offered them later..  I only ever give them for car rides, and nap and bedtimes.


However, if she cries and it's just the two of us, and a pacifier and singing don't help, I just grit my teeth and get to my destination if it is only a 10-15 minute drive.  Sometimes it makes more sense to let them cry and get where you're going if it's a short drive, than to pull over and comfort them, only to have them freak out when you get back on the road.


For a long trip, we take a break every 2.5 hours to 3 hours (roughly how long our daughter will nap), and we make that a nice hour-long break to really stretch, take our time with nursing and diaper changing, etc.


If my husband is driving, I've crawled into the backseat on numerous occasions just to keep our daughter company, entertain her, or even nurse her while she's in her seat.  So those are the steps I take: try to make sure baby is as comfortable as possible before going out and timing trips well - I always time mine for when she normally naps because, at that point, the car definitely lulls her to sleep.  Also try carrying on a conversation or singing.  If that fails, try some classical music to keep you at least a little less tense while driving with a crying baby.  Good luck!

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#8 of 14 Old 08-26-2013, 07:08 AM
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AP isn't about not letting baby cry, it's about responding to the crying.  So when in the car I try to respond verbally and sing to let the babies know I'm there for them.  If they get totally desperate I pull over and nurse.  I always try to give baby the opportunity to self soothe or problem solve for herself (while providing love and support) before jumping in and "fixing" it for her.  

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#9 of 14 Old 08-26-2013, 09:06 AM
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I just wanted to chime in and say that my baby is very soothed by singing in the car also. Sometimes it doesn't work, and then it's really sad, but when it does it makes us really happy that our singing comforts her so much. Her favorite song is "three little birds "by Bob Marley.
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#10 of 14 Old 08-26-2013, 09:08 AM
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I would give a pasifier and just drive. The motion of the car eventually puts them to sleep. Stopping every 15 minutes just interrupts that.


You can try different seat but it has to be correct one for their age and weight. Simply putting them into a bigger seat is unsafe.

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#11 of 14 Old 08-26-2013, 09:37 AM
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I'm so sorry all your babies hate the car/car seat, that is so hard, I'm hoping #4 will be different! I would gently advise any further posters, if you haven't BTDT with a baby that truly hates the car, please take care with your responses as babies that hate cars really are different than most. My first DD1 hated the car until she was about 13 months, we tried everything, switching to the convertible, pacifiers, toys, bottles, singing, sitting next to her, holding her hand, feeding her while driving, etc. Nothing worked until she got past it, I think she finally got used to being in the car (yes she was stubborn) and realized that she wasn't coming out of the car seat until we got where we were going. She still didn't like it, but she at least understood what was going on. But yeah, we took one and only one long trip until she got over it and it was hell. Stopping helped only while we were stopped, but driving with her screaming was awful too. So yeah, it's worth trying all the tricks, but if they don't work, it isn't your fault.

I don't think it is your AP style that is making your babies hate the carseats, I think they just hate them. My twins are totally fine in the car, fall asleep, etc. The only time they get fussy is when they are hungry or bored or have been in the seat for hours and want out (takes at least 4 hours if not more for that to happen). And while they are twins and aren't held quite as much as DD1 was just because there are two of them, still I can tell it is just a temperament difference. It is nothing I did, so don't feel like it is your fault. DD1 never wanted to be put down ever, she was just a high needs baby. Again, nothing I did to cause it.

I do think it is totally fine to give your baby a pacifier or whatever else in the car if it helps. Stop if you have to, but it's ok not to stop too. Singing helped me, not sure if it helped DD1 as well as holding her little hand. Good luck OP, I really hope your fourth is a car-loving baby.
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#12 of 14 Old 08-26-2013, 09:42 AM
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I am glad you mentioned singing. For my sons, music made a huge difference. Once we we found a song he loved, it really soothed him.  I just played it again and again

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#13 of 14 Old 09-03-2013, 06:42 PM
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Mine did this in the first 8 weeks and then settled. She also won't take a pacifier. We tried to time outings with sleepy time - that helped a bit, but not until those first two months were over and she was overall screaming less. She's 12 weeks now and we were even able to do a 7 hour car ride a few weeks ago!

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#14 of 14 Old 09-07-2013, 11:33 PM
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My DD1 hated the car. Still can't do super long car rides and she's hitting 4yo in Dec.

The ONLY thing that worked was baby einstien or whatever in a portable DVD player to distract her. It worked. I kept my sanity and was able to drive (I absolutely can't drive with a screaming baby-- too distracting). I suggest you make sure you keep the player with you rather then in the car because we got ours stolen. I'm still upset about how stupid we were for leaving it in the car!

Hoping and praying this new little one (she's almost 2wks) doesn't hate the car. She's too sleepy now for me to gadge but I do remember DD hating the car right from the start!

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