Why does my baby always cry in his car seat?! Help!!

Monica - posted on 09/12/2009 ( 10 moms have responded )

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My son is 3 months old and since he was a month old I have dreaded car trips. Every time we make a road trip whether it's to the grocery store or traveling from Ohio to Texas, he will cry and transition to scream until I take him out and hold him (which I know isn't safe). This is my third child and I must say that I have never experienced this before. Any suggestions?

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Heather - posted on 09/13/2009

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My son is now 16 months old and we had this problem for a VERY long time. We're finally past it, but I know exactly what you're going through. It started when he was 3 weeks old. He would just get frantic and hysterical and there was no way to calm him down without taking him out of the seat. We thought it was the seat and switched to a convertible seat, but he still didn't like it because it was rear facing. Someone always had to ride in the back seat to help the situation, but even then he still would scream. It seemed to be even worse at night because it was dark. We tried everything from me nursing him, to music to a DVD player. You name it, we tried it, and nothing worked. I became pretty much housebound, except for essential trips and we would never travel more than 40 minutes away. No one could understand, which made it even harder to deal with. We had some family members who would just tell us to put him in the car a lot and he'd have to get used to it. Apparently they have never driven with a screaming baby. If they did, they would know it's extremely dangerous because it's so distracting. It was just easier to stay home than deal with it. It was too stressful. As he got older, it got better little by little. My son is very tiny, so we have had to wait a long time to turn the seat around. Now that he faces the front, it's so much better and I did start using a DVD player for longer trips. We recently went to Sesame Place, which for us is about an hour away and the DVD player was a lifesaver. There was no screaming. I always swore I'd never use one in the car, but I've learned to never say never. It worked for us. I think the problem with my son was partly due to the fact that he couldn't put himself to sleep till he was about 10 months old, so when we were in the car, he would get bored and lonely and just didn't know how to fall asleep, like most kids do in the car, so he would scream. Also, I think he just had to simply grow out of it and get used to being in the car. It's a hard thing to deal with, but eventually your son will grow out of it too. I feel for you though and wish you lots of luck.

Rebekah - posted on 09/21/2009

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Quoting Nora:

I know the feeling. My daughter did the exact same thing would cry the whole time whilst in the car... until I figured out it was because I was traveling with her when she wasn't tired.


Cound not agree more.  Both my son and daughter had this problem until they successfully learned to self-soothe.  It seemed like the problem was that they were overly tired and only knew how to fall asleep in my arms or with a pacy.  After they had both figured out how to fall asleep on their own the problem fixed itself.



Turning an infant around forward facing is NOT the answer.

Nora - posted on 09/21/2009

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I know the feeling. My daughter did the exact same thing would cry the whole time whilst in the car... until I figured out it was because I was traveling with her when she wasn't tired. I make it a point only to go somewhere when she is due for a nap so she will fall asleep in the car. If its just a short drive somewhere then I wouldn't bother but if it was 15 mins or longer I would wait until she is tired ...make things a lot less stressful. Could it be the same for your baby? I have also heard that some babies can get car sick that may be a factor?

Monica - posted on 09/21/2009

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Quoting Leah:

Is your seat rear facing or forward facing? My daughter was the same, but she's quite big so we turned her seat around so she is facing us and that seems to have helped heaps!!



His seat is rear facing because he is 16 pounds and now 4 months old.  I am so tempted to face his seat forward just to he can see me while in the car.  I hope this phase passes by quickly.

Leah - posted on 09/15/2009

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Is your seat rear facing or forward facing? My daughter was the same, but she's quite big so we turned her seat around so she is facing us and that seems to have helped heaps!!

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Jo - posted on 09/14/2009

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Oh I have this problem too. I have to drive my husband to work every morning and pick him up at night and I dread it!! Unless my son is in a really good mood ( which isn't very often as he's a very grumpy baby) then I just have to drive with the screaming until he either falls asleep or gives up. I am counting the days until he can face forward as I know this will solve the problem. My other son was a dream in the car so this is a bit of a shock!

Monica - posted on 09/14/2009

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I appreciate all of your comments. It makes me feel better that my baby isn't the only baby that does this. I guess I will just have to wait this out. I am worried because we have to fly to Ohio in December and I do not want to be the passenger that everyone hates because I have a screaming baby in a car seat. I too tried the car seat toy that dangles to try to keep his attention on that but, of course that didn't work either. I feel your pain and hope that we all get through this soon.

Minnie - posted on 09/13/2009

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Well, we're still there at 11 months, lol. My little one has always been in-arms since birth, never a car seat baby, so she HATES being strapped in, facing away from me- she feels alone in the back seat.

I try not to drive much longer than say, five miles alone with her. Longer trips involve my husband driving and me in the back seat with her so I can lean over the car seat and nurse her.

When she cries when I'm driving, I start off by chucking all sorts of interesting things into her lap to gain a few minutes. Then if I know she's not going to settle down, I pull over and nurse until she calms down. Then I drive until she needs me again.

I too, hope she gets over this soon. But I don't let her cry (I just can't), so I plan on trips being a lot longer than they should be.

Amber - posted on 09/13/2009

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I had this problem as well and my son is 3 1/2 months old. He is a very long baby so we went ahead and put him in a convertible car seat a few weeks ago; one that goes from 5 lbs to 100 lbs. And I have not had any problems since. I think he just wanted to sit up and look out of the windows. It is reclined back just like it should be but he is not so much in a laying position. I think before he thought he had to go to sleep and didn't want to.

Leslie - posted on 09/13/2009

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Ahh! I am going bonkers with my 3 month old too! I have the same problem. She constantly cries and there's nothing wrong. The doctor asked me if she gets car sick but she doesn't spit up. He didn't know why she would cry either. My husband felt around in the seat to make sure nothing was poking her. It's fine. I tried putting in the mirror so she could see me while I drive, didn't help. I thought maybe she was bored so I bought the toy bar, didn't help. One of the moms in my daycare said she was probably hot so I froze the car like the tundra before putting her in the back seat, didn't help. I hope she grows out of it because I don't know what else to do. I now have special stops on my way to daycare to get her to quiet down. I need help too.

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