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Carseat woes

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  • Carseat woes

    Okay Mamas, I need some more advice! My daughter HATES the car carrier. I minimize her time in it as much as possible by using the sling, so I only put her in it when we're in the car. When we put her in the carrier she just screams and screams. She usually screams for the entire car ride no matter how long it is. Every great now & then, she'll become distracted by her stuffed elephant we have dangling from the handle & watch it with fascination. And sometimes, but not often, she'll fall asleep if it's around her naptime anyway.

    I feel so horrible, like I'm making her CIO which we, of course, are adamently against. But I don't know what else to do. We've tried to make sure her positioning is comfortable. We've tried having one of us sit back there with her & she just screams & looks @ whoever is sitting back there like she's horrified which makes us feel even more guilty. We've tried everything we can think of, bleah.

    Any sage advice? Anyone else had this happen? If so, do they grow out of it? She's 3 months old (as of today!).

  • #2

    I have so been there, done that. My daughter hated, hated, HATED the car seat. She would also scream and scream. Like you, it also felt like CIO to me - prolonged hysterical crying is not good for the developing brain. This wasn't "fussing", or even just "crying", she was in full meltdown. I know most people think it's "different" because it's necessary for safety, but it just didn't feel different to me. And it wasn't something that my particular daughter with her particular temperament was going to get used to. I agree with you - I think she felt as though we were ignoring her, and it only made it worse that she could see us or hear us and we weren't responding. I really felt like I was between a rock and a hard place.

    Yes, she did outgrow it. Taking her out of the bucket seat helped. We bought a Britax Marathon, which is a little more upright. We also turned her around forward facing the day she reached the minimum weight requirement for the seat - at about 10 and 1/2 months. This helped a lot. NO - this isn't the safest way for a child to ride, and NO - it isn't recommended to turn any child around until they are at least 12 months old. It was a choice we made, but we would never suggest anyone else should do the same.

    When she really started to be okay with the car was was when she hit about 2 years old or so and began to get some reasoning ability. She began to understand that that the car was a necessary evil to get where she wanted to go. We would talk about potential things we could do, and about what that would mean in terms of a car ride, and we would let her help decide how much we would travel in any given day or week.

    The real, true "YIPEE" moment in our quality of car life was the day she met the minimum height and weight requirements and we could put her in a belt positioning booster (with a back that has side-impact protection) instead of a 5 point harness. The extra ability to move around made a HUGE difference. She had just turned 4, I believe. Again- NO- this isn't the safest way for a child to ride, and NO- it isn't recommended to move a child out of a 5 point harness until they outgrow it. It was a choice we made, but we would never suggestion anyone else should do the same.

    It was a long, hard road (no pun intended) to get to the place where the car is an enjoyable place.

    Our coping mechanisms for the infant stage:
    • We limited trips. DH took over any errands that were more than about 15 minutes away.
    • We stopped often. Sometimes every 5 minutes. I planned that any trip would take 3 times longer than it should have.
    • We figured out which times of day she was most tolerant, and ONLY traveled in the car during those times. For her, it was when she was well-rested and recently fed. She never, ever slept in the car (until she was about 3 years old).
    • I kept a huge pile of toys in the passenger seat of the car. I would hand her a new one every 2 to 3 minutes.
    • Sing, sing, sing. We bought lots of CDs of kids music. (Well, this didn't really start working until she was a few months older).

    I completely know what you are going through, and it is miserable. We seriously considered moving to a city with better public transportation (on which car seats aren't required!), and I've talked to others who took taxis places to avoid the car seat (if babies aren't required to use car seats in taxis in your state.) It seems most babies get more comfortable once they become forward facing, so there is light at the end of the tunnel. The desperate car seat syndrome also seems - in my very limited experience - to correlate to children who later prove to be highly sensitive, so you might want to think about checking out "Your Highly Sensitive Child" by Elaine Aron. (

    Overall, I really feel like there must be a better way to keep babies safe in the car than strapping them in hard seats with restraint systems that allow only the slightest of movement. What a shock that must be to a baby who is used to being carried in mama's arms! There just must be something like the Baby B'Air for airline travel that would work in the car and allow a passenger in the back seat to hold the baby while he was safely strapped in. Someday, somebody will invent it. In the meantime, know you're not alone, and it will get better.


    • #3
      Wildblueberry had some great coping mechimisms (sp?) for you. My DD was also not a fan of her carseat. At about 4.5 months we moved her to her Britax Marathon and it was a more comfy seat for her. That helped some.

      The other thing that really helped my DD was sucking. Sucking was a very comforting thing for my daughter and because of nursing problems we encountered, I never let her use my breasts as a pacifier. Instead, I offered her both pacifiers and my finger and my finger was what she wanted. It was a blessing and a curse. In the span of 2 seconds she could go from full out wail to complete contentedness if my finger was placed in her mouth. But...I was driving everywhere one handed w/ my arm twisted around to the back seat. Not the safest thing either, but I figured it had to be safer than my turning my head around 30 million times trying to see if I could do anything to make her happy.

      My DD stayed rear facing until she was almost 2 (a couple months shy of her 2nd b-day) and I do have to admit that now that she if forward facing she is a very very contented rider and we talk about what she sees all the time. could also be a developmental stage for her because she wasn't crying/fussing near to what she did when she was an infant. Once she was over 10 or 11 months, the crying did cut down and would only occur when she was really tired or hungry.

      Take heart that this is a phase. Eventually, it will get better. Just try to limit your trips as much as possible and think about how you sooth her in other parts of your day and see if you could incorporate those soothing strategies in the car. If you always use nursing or a sling, maybe you could incorporate another soothing strategy into your day that you could then bring to the car since nursing or wearing a baby aren't really a possibility for the car while it is in motion.

      Hugs Mama!


      • #4
        i second getting her out of the carrier and into a convertible carseat. i've heard many claim it saved their lives.

        also,, i've read research that the pattern on the cloth of your car can make some babies nuts. staring at it seriously disrupts them. try putting a solid blanket over the back of the seat. it was an instant fix for a friend of mine.


        • #5
          Wow! It worked!

          You are all not going to believe this!! I was talking to my friend, another AP Mama about this situation & she suggested we get a mirror to put back there that our daughter could see. Since we think part of the problem is that she's alone, my friend thought it might make her feel less alone. So, we got a child safe mirror, about 6"x4" that normally hangs over the side of a crib, & put it right in front of her where she could see it.

          The very next car ride, she DIDN'T CRY AT ALL! She just sat there and "talked" to her mirror! Same for the next one, most of them in fact. She has had a couple mini-meltdowns, but NOTHING like what was happening before! She does get to a point where she's just DONE with the car and start to cry, but the mirror seems to distract her for quite a while before she gets to that point! Oh car rides are so much better now! It's so wonderful!

          So, if anyone is having this issue, try it! It may or may not work, but it's definitely worth a shot!


          • #6
            car seat woes

            hi have just joined forum specifcally to talk about car seat problems, so great to see already that we're not alone!! Will try mirror trip - thank you for that one.


            • #7
              i'm so glad it's working for you! that's awesome!


              • #8
                Not comfy for me, but it worked!

                My lil angel is normally ok in her seat for the short trips (15 minutes or so) to the mall. She is 6 months today But recently we had to go on a 2 hour drive to visit my hubby's family. I swore I would NEVER do it again. She cried and cried... long sad tears... total hysterics. We stopped a million times, and I admit, I took her out and held her on my lap for part of it. I know this is dangerous, but it was on fairly empty country roads and I felt like I was torturing her by leaving her in the seat.

                I was horrified at the thought of the return trip.

                We stopped along the way back to try and nurse her, but she was too distraught to suck, so I let her calm down a bit and tried to nurse again.. nothing doing. I put her back in and we took off again. She started screaming again. Then I had a lighbulb moment, and leaned over her, while she was strapped in and nursed her (hubby was driving). As the title says, it was not comfy for me, but she quieted down immediately and stayed calm for the rest of the trip... as long as I held her eye contact and sang silly songs.

                I know some countries had back-seat seat-belt laws, but we don't here in Tallinn... and I think I would have broken that law anyway.

                I still hold firm to not going on anymore long trips until she's old enough to sit normally... but that worked for me when I was nearly in tears myself.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Theresa View Post
                  Then I had a lighbulb moment, and leaned over her, while she was strapped in and nursed her (hubby was driving). As the title says, it was not comfy for me, but she quieted down immediately and stayed calm for the rest of the trip... as long as I held her eye contact and sang silly songs.

                  I know some countries had back-seat seat-belt laws, but we don't here in Tallinn... and I think I would have broken that law anyway.

                  I still hold firm to not going on anymore long trips until she's old enough to sit normally... but that worked for me when I was nearly in tears myself.
                  Yes, figuring out the contortionist act of nursing in the car was the lifesaver for me as well! Over the past 8 years I think my breasts have tripled in length and now the joke from my older kids if the babe is fussy in the back and I am driving is "can you throw your breast over the seat mom and nurse that baby!"


                  • #10
                    So glad I'm not alone!!!!

                    Wow ladies, I am so glad I am not alone with this car seat stuff. My new daughter is 2 months old now, and she hates the car seat too!!!
                    First of all, she is small, and the thing never seems to recline enough for her to be comfortable and supported. She creams and cries when we put her in it. I actually sit in the back seat with her when my husband and I are out on errands. I have to take her out and nurse her just for her to settle down. ( I DO NOT like to do this at all by the way, I get so nervous about traffic and the dangers involved) . It's the only way for her to calm down, unless we blare white noise on the radio, and sometimes that does not work, so with the SCREAMING and the loud WHITE NOISE, its enough to put anyone over the edge. I dread taking her myself to the store in the car, because of this.

                    Any suggestions? or models of car seats that recline more? I never use the car seat out of the car by the way. I always carry her. ( I read about a gal who used a mirror or something... hmm.)


                    • #11
                      That was me that used a mirror and it was like magic! She used to scream and scream every time she was in the carseat and when we put the mirror in there, she stopped. She didn't cry the entire ride when we put it in and she hardly cries now. If she's too hot, hungry, tired or just sort of done w/ her day, she might cry and fuss a bit, but the constant screaming has stopped! It's been wonderful. We just got a baby mirror that you strap to a crib (on discount no less!) and put it in front of her seat so she can see herself and voila!! It's worth a shot!


                      • #12
                        Mirror for car seat

                        I am really glad the mirror has worked for you! I'm going to try it next.

                        Thanks for the great idea!



                        • #13
                          Oh, I am so glad I found this thread... my son is 3.5 months, and has never loved his seat (we've always used a convertible kind, never the bucket type). Just in the last couple of weeks, he has taken to having a meltdown whenever I take him somewhere. I am SO trying the blanket thing until I can get a car mirror for him! Now a question about that... how does it attach? We have a compact car, so it's not like there is a headrest to hang it from for him. Would velcro work?


                          • #14
                            I'm so glad this thread is still helping people!

                            We actually just put it on the car seat right above the feet part. We set it between the feet part of the carseat & the seat if that makes any sense. I want to emphasize also that we bought a lightweight baby safe mirror (so not made of glass) so if anything ever happens & it flies around, it won't hurt anyone.