Help! My Baby Hates The Car
It's generally assumed that most babies love travelling in the car. You can understand why — the gentle movement combined with the purr of the engine and a cosy car seat should guarantee a peaceful nap.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for my daughter. From her very first car trip on the way home from the hospital, she absolutely hated it. She screamed from the moment we strapped her in, until we pulled her sweaty and shuddering body out at the end of each trip.
Driving was understandably traumatic for everyone concerned, but for both practical and mental health reasons, I couldn’t stop using the car. For one, we all needed to eat and the shopping wasn’t going to do itself! In addition, it’s vital for a new mum to get out and about for her own peace of mind. It may have been tempting to stay at home, but I knew that I had to find a way for my daughter to tolerate car trips for all our sakes.
I did a bit of research and found out it was actually reasonably common for some young babies to dislike travelling in the car. Fortunately, there are some ways you can make the experience bearable, (and even enjoyable) for mum and bub.
Here are some things you can try:
Install a mirror
For some babies, they feel overwhelmed when they can’t see mum or dad and that was certainly the case for us. An easy solution is to attach a car seat mirror to the back of the head rest. Not only could my baby see us, but I could also check out what she was doing.
Get some shade
My baby was born in summer and she hated the hot sun on her face. Installing some shades on the backseat windows was a great way to block out the sun and reduce glare.
Change from a capsule
Capsules are so convenient, however some babies don’t like how enclosed a capsule can be around their bodies, particularly in summer when it can be warm. If your baby is in a capsule and seems to be overly uncomfortable, you might want to consider changing to a convertible car seat. A child car seat like the Britax Safe-n-Sound Graphene™ could be the perfect solution. It allows toddlers to be rear-facing until up to about two to three years, which is great, as it’s up to five times safer than forward-facing. Plus, its slimline design means its compact enough to fit three seats across the backseat.
Consider the temperature
If you don’t want to swap the capsule but you think your baby is getting too hot, there’s another solution available. I bought a little portable pram fan from a baby store which I clipped onto the edge of the head rest. They’re really lightweight and have a twisty head so you can direct the airflow where you want it. If you have a sweaty little bub, another thing to consider is the fabric the car seat is made of. The latest Britax car seats are made from Thermo5™—a high-performing Bamboo Charcoal fabric, which provides airflow and wicks moisture away.
Add some entertainment
Sometimes all they need is a little distraction. In-built DVD players—or even iPads mounted to the back of car seats—make for a great way to keep little ones distracted. Avoiding toys and other objects that can become airborne is also ideal.
Play some music
On more than one occasion, I resorted to singing ‘Old Macdonald Had a Farm’ at the top of my lungs, to help quieten down my restless little one. After a few months, I realised I could outsource my singing and bought a Play School CD to leave in the car. Every time we needed a little distraction, I would press play and ‘There’s a Bear in There’ would calm her down instantly. These days, there are even Spotify playlists that can substitute for a CD like this.
Plan your journey around naps and feeds
When considering a car journey, it’s vital to think about your baby’s routine and work out the best time to travel. One thing I learnt pretty quickly is travelling when your baby is hungry is probably not the most ideal time. There’s nothing worse than hearing their distress and knowing what it is they want but not being able to give it to them. I realised if my baby was tired enough, she might eventually (and probably reluctantly) nap in the car, so that was the best time to plan my longer journeys.
For us, it was a combination of all of the above suggestions that eventually helped my daughter to tolerate the car. Like a lot of aspects of parenting, it’s all about trial and error.
Experiment with different solutions until you find the one that works for you and your child. Bon voyage!
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