Does your new baby act like her infant seat is a medieval torture device? Though it may not be possible to transform your baby into the type who blissfully naps every time the car hits the road, there are some easy steps you can take to see if your little one will settle in with less stress on everyone involved. Enclosed are tips for reducing everyone’s stress when your baby cries in the car.
- Be prepared – be ready to pack up your babe and hit the road the moment the time is right. Leave the diaper bag packed by the door and have the car seat ready, so as soon as you feed your baby and she’s drowsy or asleep, in she goes and out you go.
- Don’t stop the car! Once baby’s asleep, Do Not Stop The Car. If possible, choose a route with fewer stoplights. For longer trips, make sure the car is gassed up ahead of time (and bladders are emptied), so that once you’re on the road and (hopefully) your baby falls asleep, you won’t need to stop for quite a while.
- Infant car seats are like insulated snow suits covered by a beach cooler: padding, foam and a plastic seat retain warmth, and a crying baby can generate a lot of heat. Dress baby accordingly – warm coats and hats aren’t necessary in the car seat, and a hot baby is an unhappy baby. Secure your baby in the straps, then tuck a blanket over her chest and lap if needed. Tuck her hat next to her hip in the seat – it will be pre-warmed and you’ll know where it is when it’s time to get out of the car.
- Crack – or cover – the window: Open the windows just a bit for some fresh air and whooshing white noise, both of which may be helpful to a distressed baby. If you think glare from the sun is a problem, look for plastic static cling window shades for the back – they’re a safer option than the kind that attach with suction cups.
- Play music and sing along – loudly. Choose music that you enjoy, and sing along loudly to try to catch her attention. As your baby calms, you can lower the volume and let the music take over rather than your voice. Babies don’t even mind if you’re off tune or make up the words.
- Don’t let a car-hating baby keep you isolated at home. If you have somewhere to go, you should go, even if you know that your baby cries in the car. Stay calm and get where you’re going, then take baby out of the seat for soothing. Stopping to comfort every few minutes may just prolong the agony if your baby typically starts crying again as soon as you put them back in the seat.
- Try a rear-facing convertible car seat. Some parents find that switching from the infant seat to a rear-facing convertible dramatically improved their car-hating baby situation. In the convertible seat, baby is higher, has more circulating air, and may feel less closed-in. Even if this experiment doesn’t work magic, you’ll still need the convertible seat when she outgrows the infant seat in coming months.