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Baby HATES the car!!

992 Views 19 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  Calliope84
My 3 month old LITERALLY screams in the car from the moment you pull out of the driveway until you get the car seat out of the car. It's not the seat. I've put him in it many of times with him smiling and to click him into the base in the car and he is fine. Start the car...SCREAMING begins. No exaggeration here. I've tried a mirror, no mirror, I've tried putting him in the car in a deep sleep. How do I shut the door without waking him? Thats where that one went wrong. I've fallen into a tiny depression because of it. I can't stay home since it's not fair to my 4 year old so whats a mama to do? I have no idea. I'm starting to get desperate and think to install a DVD player for him back there though I hate that idea entirely...but what if it works? It may be worth the tiny bit of TV for a baby for a distraction so I can actually drive somewhere and talk to my 4 year old without tears in my voice. It shakes me. I'm an attachment parent and babywear a lot and a lot of folks have asked if that could be why since he is always attached to me. So obviously, it's difficult for me to listen to crying - no matter what your parenting style - who can bare the sound of your baby screaming 20 + minutes straight? I can't. Pulling over and soothing does nothing because when its time to put him back in the seat, it starts all over again. I have to drive my 4 year old to camp (he loves camp and it's good for him right now) and it's 20 minutes away! I get there and then have to take baby out, soothe, breastfeed, start all over again to go home. It's horrible. I noticed it starts as soon as the car starts to move a bit. He could be fine for a minute or two but then BOOM the screaming begins. I'm so screwed if this is how it will be until he is at least 2 to FF in the seat if rear facing is what is freaking him out. It's almost as if he can sense he is moving and maybe the backwards movement is it? I will also add that 2 weeks ago it was hit or miss, we would have a few here and there moments in the car where he wouldnt cry at all. Also, I have sat back there with him to no avail. Does not make any difference. We use the paci and he won't take it when he is screaming, too worked up! Also adding that I also make sure he has a full belly and clean diaper before we leave...

So...anyone got any insight on this?
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My dd (now 8) did the same thing with car seats. I think it was a motion thing for her b/c she hated strollers and sleds too. Carrying her she was fine, but motion without being held? Sent her into a tizzy! I'm of no help I'm afraid, there really wasn't anything that helped but time. By the time she was 6ish months, we were able to get a good 20 min (thankfully, in my city, everything is about 20 min away!) in before the breakdown started.

On what may be a related note - at age 4 we found out she had a huge amount of wax buildup in her ears (and we never used qtips either) she just makes a huge amount and it ended up giving her some hearing loss at that time. (we started taking her in for a cleaning every 6mths and its helped) I'm wondering now if that had something to do with it? Just a thought.......

I wish you all the best. :hug
There are some areas of parenting where all you can do is muddle through the best you can. My older child was like this - screamed in the car for some period of time when a baby. I avoided driving when practical, soothed her when I was able, etc., but sometimes there's no way to avoid it. We did find that a cd of soothing classical music helped a bit. But honestly, nothing was perfect. My dd did get past this before she was 2. I think it's more about being separated from you than being RF. You can't hold her and drive the car, and that's the problem. At some point she'll be OK with it. I think taking her out and nursing her and soothing her when you get there before she has to get back in the car might be the best you can do. I wish I had a magic solution. There are mirrors you can put up so she can see you, but post in Family Safety to find out what is safe to put in the car, and I'm not sure how much they help - maybe a bit. Hugs! I remember wishing I lived someplace with public transportation. That would be the best option, but it isn't available everywhere.

Hopefully others have more helpful suggetions. All I can do is say it is a common problem.
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I'm sorry you're going through this! It sucks! to put it bluntly. My first two dds also HATED the car, literally the second they were placed in the carseat and buckled ( it didn't even have to be in the car) they would scream bloody murder until they were taken back out. We live an hour and a half from anything so it was really terrible. With my first it lasted until we turned her at 1 yr ( didn't know any better then and we were desperate), then it did get better, not all the way until she was 2ish. Then we did get a dvd for the car and did mostly Baby Einstein dvds. I figured that was better for her development than crying. She still gets a little carsick and I wonder if she always has especially being backwards. I would stop every 20 mins or so to take out, nurse, comfort before it began again. It would take me 3 plus hrs to get to the city which was not at all practical, so I eventually would just drive, but it always broke my heart and I worried about damage. With dd2 it lasted until she was about 5-6 mos, but she is much more easy going in general. Dd3 (10wks) only tolerates the car if she is sleeping so we try to work around that so far. I would also sit in the back with baby if possible ( most of the time it wasn't cause I was on my own). So I really have no suggestions, just here to say you're not alone. Hugs! I also want to know what others suggest.
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Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

There are some areas of parenting where all you can do is muddle through the best you can.
Very true, alas. All three of my kids screamed bloody murder in the car when they were newborns. We tried everything, and I mean EVERYthing. The only thing that worked was not driving... So, we drove as little as possible and after a few months they outgrew it. I always assumed it was an inner ear thing, but who knows.
My daughter was like this, and I became a complete shut-in because her screaming was so agonizing. Whenever we got anywhere I'd be beside myself, and then needed to change her because she had sweated so much and choked up so much mucus from screaming that she'd be soaked. This improved when we changed from the infant seat to a convertable seat (Britax Boulevard). We had tried a number of infant seats, so maybe it was the fact that she was more upright? This was around 4 months even though she could have been in the infant seat longer. She had a whole slew of other "fourth trimester" things going on too (need for super-tight swaddling, super loud white noise, etc), which diminished around this time as well so maybe it was developmental.


Originally Posted by floiejo2 View Post

I would also sit in the back with baby if possible
I would do this as well, but found it made her even more upset because she was freaking out and she could see that I wasn't doing anything about it.

Good luck....I hope you find something that works!
No advice, just some commiseration. Baby number 1 and now baby number 2 are not fans of the car. It is SO stressful. DS1 is now five years old and often gets carsick easily.

I do remember that when we moved up from the infant carseat to the bigger one it got better. Maybe it was a combination of being older and a better carseat. It's so hard to tell.

Good luck.
We experienced this, too, but it turned out to be a relatively short (2 months, tops) phase. DD was a motion sleeper, so for a long time she did fine in the car if it was time for a nap. I tried to plan trips around that. Things get easier when they reach the age where they can play with things back there. Oh, and the door thing: Close it so it's closed but not latched all the way, then use your bum to push it the rest of the way. And from the inside, again, close it but don't latch it, then you can kind of pull it to a full close. Works better from the opposite side of the car so you get better leverage.
Thanks for all the input and comisery,
. Seriously if I could just speak his language I would be alright...

I think he's a motion sleeper since he always passes out in a good deep sleep when I wear him so I don't get it. One mama suggested the chiro...thinking about that though DH won't be on board with that I don't think. I know it's not the car seat since he will let me buckle him in it in the house and be totally fine but now I'm thinking to get the Britax seat now. I would have to get it eventually anyway since DS1 is still using his...and he went into his RF at 7 months..

it sucks but I've now just accepted it and have to "deal". I'm still holding a candle for an answer and that magic day when he stops!
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I would at least try moving up to a convertable seat - it is money you have to spend otherwise. Or before you do that, have you checked if the straps on his infant seat need to be moved up? As an infant whenever DD started to get really fussy in the car it was when she was getting too tall for the strap placement and she was all squished up!

I know you have probably tried a lot of things, but what about music? Raffi was our friend for years - DH and I can sing along to every word and even know what order the songs come in! DD would be fussing and mad, and then we would put on Raffi and it was like magic.

I am definitely not a fan of tv for babies, but really you have to do what you have to do. If the choices are between baby gets to watch a bit of Baby Einstein and be happy, or baby screams uncontrollably and mama drives into a ditch, I would pick the Baby Einstein. And don't feel guilty! Sometimes we have to make compromises just to get through the day! Just make sure that it is secured in such a way that it won't fly off and hit him in the face if you are ever in a car wreck.
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My youngest has developed the in-the-car screamies. And she sits across from her two favorite faces in the whole world--her big brother and big sister. And they will do everything short of detach their own limbs to keep her happy--but nothing works. So we repeat our mantra, "Sometimes babies cry...sometimes babies cry" and I attempt not to crash the car out of distraction.

If it's any consolation to you, her big brother (now six) and big sister (nine) both went through this stage, and both are happy, healthy, attached, and enjoy car rides. So the only lasting damage will be to you, the mama.
I too had a car-screamer. He would cry/scream the whole car ride, unless he fell asleep. He does better now (10 mon), although he still dis-likes the car-seat, he complains when he is put in and fights to get out the second the car stops, however he doesn't scream & cry the whole ride now. I don't recall how long it lasted, I think it was when he was 4mon - 8mon.

In the beginning, I thought something was wrong, so I would pull over and take him out of the car-seat for a bit. Only to find putting him back in, would start it all over again. I learned to try to deal with his crying, but it was tough.

We also switched him to a Britax convertible car-seat, which he does better in.

Good luck! I hope it's just a phase you need to get through.
DS usually likes the car especially when it's in motion, but there have been times when we were traveling when he hated it. He's in an infant seat still but we are planning to get a convertible soon.

Anyway the 2 things that have worked are me singing (not his dad, not the radio, not me just talking... me singing!) and certain noises (a rattle shaken really loudly and crinkling a wipes bag). You have to do these things loud enough so that they can hear it over their crying.

I hope it gets better soon!!
My DS cried going into and out of the bucket so I switched him at 3 months to a convertible which he is totally fine in.

Tmama, it sounds like it could be motion sickness. I would look for a homeopathic remedy and maybe a CT visit.
Ah, another car screaming thread....

Our DS was also a horrible car screamer. We also tried everything to no avail. Well, actually I did eventually figure out I could sit next to him (DH driving, obviously) and nurse him, so I did that nearly the entire trip every time. PIA but it did help. Sounds like it wouldn't work for you if you're alone in the car with the kids though.

I just wanted to offer hope that this will end. In our case, when DS was around 12 months he outgrew the bucket seat and we got the next size up (for age 9 months-3 years) which is fully upright and faces forward. And that did it ~no more car screaming!!!!
I think he just hated facing backwards and being left out, or maybe it made him motion sick. I know you are supposed to leave them back-facing as long as possible, but here in the EU I think most if not all of the bigger car seats (next size up from bucket seats) face forward only. So we didn't have the choice, but to be honest I would still have moved him FF in the US because it made such a difference. I know not everyone would agree with that because it is less safe, but to me the risk is just not that huge and the screaming was just that incredibly awful. So, that's what worked for us. And from what I've read here most babies outgrow the car screaming by about a year.
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no advice, just commiseration. DD is 2 months old and just in the past week has shown a dislike of the has nothing to do with the carseat, but everything to do with the car moving as well. If we're in the car long enough, she'll eventually cry to sleep, but mostly she cries the whole time. I guess I've just gotten used to it. DS was the same way, and overall DD is an easier baby, so the crying in the car doesn't upset me too much. Unfortunately there's not a whole lot you can do about it besides not drive anywhere. That's not very practical in my situation. My nephew was like that in the car until he was about 18 months old and my sister, who is pro-extended rearfacing turned him around at that time because he was much happier turned around. We are going on a long road trip at the end of this month and I'm hoping by that time she'll be almost 3 months old, and I can sit in the back with her, she'll have her cousins to distract her when I'm not back there too, so hopefully it will be tolerable for everyone. we'll see!
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Absolutely no advice, accept avoid the car when possible. LOL. My DD (5.5 months) JUST started to tolerate trips of about 5-10 minutes. She does better when I can sit in the back with her, but she also has my DS back there - and when DH is at work, I obviously have to drive. We tried mirrors, toys, singing, pacifiers, asking DS to distract her intentionally, putting her in asleep, etc etc etc. Bottom line, she just HATED it. I think she is just starting to grow out of it - there's nothing else I've done that's made it better. I made a trip for the 4th back to where our family is from - 3 hours there and back. DH & I had to drive seperate cars due to a huge long story so he drove DS and I drove DD.... a 3-hour trip took about 5 hours. She screamed, I pulled off at just about every exit. Tried to nurse her, change her, put her to sleep, etc, she wanted nothing except to see me! DH had to return a few days before us, so the ride back was me, DS, & DD. She laughed for an hour and slept the rest of the way. As she gets older, she's more amused by her brother and it's not so much of a big deal. But she screamed in the car from 6 weeks - 4.5 months every. single. time. And my DS LOVED the car as a baby... who knows!
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My son hated his car seat too, and would scream until he turned purple. It was so stressful and I began dreading even the shortest car trip. And I became such an impatient, aggressive driver---not a good thing!

Things got a little bit better when we switched him to a forward facing, convertible car seat at 10 months. I think my little guy hated laying down in his infant car seat and he was happier in the sitting position. He still hates the car seat though, and will only ride for about 10-15 minutes without screaming (he just turned 14 months.)

I would check out some homeopathic remedies for motion sickness and maybe also get your little one's inner ear checked. I had bad motion sickness as a kid and I know how unpleasant it is. My son is fine in cars when he's not in his seat (we spent a few months in South America w/ no car seat.) I think he just hates being strapped down. He would much rather be crawling around and exploring, or sitting in my lap and nursing!

It's really hard to listen to him scream, but I'm finally at the point where I'm able to stay calm and drive slowly and safely. Of course I hate letting him cry, but there are times when we have to go out into the car. Hopefully as he gets older, my son will begin to associate the car with going to fun places and will stop screaming.

Sorry that you're in such a tough situation! I certainly know how miserable it can be. Just remember that it will get better eventually, even if that doesn't make it any more bearable right now. Good luck!
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My dd (now 15 months) was like this as a newborn too. My somewhat depressing solution was to never go anywhere with her in the car. I thought I was to be a shut-in forever. LOL. But thankfully it did pass and by six months or so she was able to do 20-30 minutes and now she is fine for the most part as long as the journey is not too long or too close to nap time.

Can you do things in walking distance with your four year old? Like the park or pool or library?
I'm so sorry. I know how much it sucks. My DD is 7.5 months and things are slowly starting to get better. She still can cry a lot sometimes, but sometimes we get lucky and she just goes to sleep or happily gnaws away at her pacifier. I just stayed home a lot and only went out when I could sit in the back with her and DH drove...
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