Help please. My baby ALWAYS cries when I put her in the car seat. What should I do?

Aleeca - posted on 02/15/2010 ( 12 moms have responded )




Should I pull over and take her out and comfort her? I've tried this but then I just have to put her back in and she starts crying again. I never let her cry at home and it drives me crazy that I can't respond to her needs while I am driving. I always make sure I nurse her and change her before we go anywhere. I've made sure the straps aren't too tight and not pinching her. I give her toys to play with, I've tried all types of music-no music-I sing or try to talk to her. Nothing works. She just hates to be strapped in and wants to be with her Mommy. I am at my wits end. Sometimes she cries herself to sleep and I would NEVER let that happen anywhere but in the car. Am I undermining everything I practice at home? Is it detrimental? I'm at the point I don't want to take her anywhere but that is not an option. What do you ladies do? Is this a problem for anyone else? Any advice would be much appreciated.


Brenda - posted on 02/17/2010




Maybe it is the carseat? My little man would scream bloody murder when I put him in the bucket seat, but we've changed to RF convertable and it has gotten better.

Also what about the mirror you can stick to the seat? I know lots of babies get a kick out of those.

The key is to try not to let her work herself up because once they get to that point, they don't even know why they're crying, they're just responding to their bodily cues (the increase in BP, heartrate, respiration) and that keeps them going when they might otherwise calm down. Try getting her entertained asap, maybe sing and dance before you strap in, then sing and tickle or something to amuse her while you strap in. Make a silly game out of it. Then have toys, like Lisa suggested, stuff you ONLY keep in the car. The reason I say this is you really need "car toys" and "house toys" so every time you take a car ried, the "car toys" are new and interesting.

I agree with the others, try not to let her cry just to avoid the negative association. That being said, some babies HATE the car. My older son HATED riding rear facing, and to be honest, that child did not stop screaming until he was forward facing (which happened at one for a variety of reasons, namely that was four years ago before they said to leave them rear as long as possible, but also he was about outgrown the seat we had on the height/weight for RF because it was one of those stupid ones with the bar that comes down...worst carseats ever and his legs were pinched between the seat and the bar). So don't get too down on yourself if nothing works, because some kids don't do well. With my older son, I never went anywhere alone, so my husband could drive and I could play with him. I hated it because no matter what, if he was alone back there, it was a screaming fit....

Rebecca - posted on 02/16/2010




Shonda makes some great points. I know my son was bothered by the sun in his eyes, but I did not want to get the roll-up shades because they could detach in an accident and become a projectile (not to mention, the suction cups could fail and drop the shade onto my baby). I knew that there were "cling" shades out there but searched and searched to no avail, until finally one day I was in Walmart (usually not a good thing but it was that day!) and saw these: I think they sell them at Target, too. I paid less than $5 for two shades, and they are great.

I also got this mirror so that I could see my son -- it's truly the best, biggest mirror for the best price (it has multiple ways of attaching to the seat, great for older cars without the tether anchor at the top of the seat):

Shonda - posted on 02/16/2010




My son is 6 months old and boy o boy did we have a time. He absolutely disliked the car seat from Day 1 until about 4 months old. He was HOT! And he did not like the recline... I researched and researched possible problems. From being too hot, too not liking the recline, not liking rear-facing, to motion sickness. Sometimes it is as simple as our little ones not wanting to be away from us, but sometimes it is something else. For my son, he was hot and I think he was motion sick.

I provided him a mirror to see himself while driving, but I blocked the window so he could not get over stimulated by all the fast movement. That really cut down on the crying. I also only put him in the carseat with a onesie on... and voila... crying STOPPED! Of course, I will never truly know what exactly bothered him so much about the infant seat, but after researching and watching my little beau, I was bound and determined to make his rides more positive.

And I am also of the mindset my beau does not need to be strapped into the contraption daily. And for only necessary trips. So we did not leave daily and only for short 20 minute or less trips. Then we did the family visits over the holidays, but by then he was just fine. So long story short... monitor your baby to determine if there is an underlying cause such as motion sickness, heat, too many clothes, etc.

And BTW, I live in Ohio. I just made sure to take him out of the seat and slide him into something warm before getting out of the car.. takes just an additional minute or two and well worth the time.

Marcy - posted on 02/16/2010




Aleeca its a phase and will pass son did this when he was about 9 months old for 3 months. I used to pick him up at daycare and we would have a 40 minute ride home. He cried almost the whole way and I wanted to bang my head against the steering wheel in frustration. I actually did the following which worked...sometimes. I went to the store and bought one of those clothes hanger rods that goes from one side of the car to the other. I took a bunch of little stuffed animals made a loop out of fabric, attached it to the stuffed animal and strung them from the rod. My son used to bat them around in the backseat...he thought it was hysterical.

It will pass....

Doris - posted on 07/18/2013




Oh my goodness!!! I am reading these posts and am currently going through the same thing!! I have tried EVERYTHING and by the looks of it, it seems that I will just have to wait it out. I will keep reading to see if anybody can offer any new ideas...I'm willing to try ANYTHING!!


View replies by

Jessica - posted on 05/07/2013




I have this same problem, funny because I was just googling if it was ok to let my child cry while in his car seat. I am having a lot of trouble with this. I hate hearing him cry I just want to comfort him but also having to pull over every five minutes is also getting annoying. What should I do? Some advice on tis would be great.

Shonda - posted on 02/17/2010




Rebecca, we have the same products.. haha. They work great and my son loves them. Brenda, I agree the experience starts before you strap them in. I sang to a happy car ride (made up) song and smiled the whole time to try to make the 'getting in the car' experience more pleasant. I think my husband believes his wife is coo-coo all the things I do, but it works for me. And needless to say, he is better in the car. He is super long though, so last week we moved up to the convertible seat (still RF). He seems to like this seat. It is all a mystery with babies. That is why AP works for me, because we work extra hard to figure out the mysteries instead of leaving them to figure this world out solo.

Traci - posted on 02/17/2010




Before I read the replies, I want to tell you that I have experienced EXACTLY the same thing. It breaks my heart, because she never gets this wound up at home, but it's so traumatic for her... I hope I can find some sort of solution in the replies!

Katherine - posted on 02/16/2010




Oh I remember those days!!! I pulled over all the time. How old is she?
It's so stressful too, I remember being on the brink so many times. Is the sun in her face? Is she burped? I'm just asking because I don't think they just cry for no reason. My 11mo wakes up screaming only because she has to burp.

The one good thing about the book "The baby whisperer" is that she focuses on listening to your baby's cry and trying to be more intuitive. I used that book for a few things and they really did help.

Anyways I'm rambling, sorry. Just try to weed out any major issues like that.

[deleted account]

I am going to watch this thread......I have the same problem with my 2month old he will not fall asleep in the car seat when we go out, and if he is in the seat for more than ten minutes he cries and cries its not so bad driving on the highway he stays awake and likes the motion but the minute you slow down like driving in the city or stoping at lights he just starts crying. So I have stopped going anywhere by my self unless its a quick trip, And if I have to go somewhere farther away I have someone with me so I can sit in the back with my son and comfort him when he is upset but that is not the most practical solution either....

Rebecca - posted on 02/16/2010




Hi Aleeca,

How old is your daughter? My son always cried in the car when he was very young, the first 3-4 months. He did not fall asleep in the car like everyone says that babies do! But he has always been vocal about his needs*, and I knew that he didn't like being strapped down and away from me, and wanted to see me, be close to me, etc. I avoided driving more than 10 minutes at a time, and if I did have to drive somewhere, and my son was screaming more than a couple minutes, I would pull over and console him. We didn't go out of the house much -- we took walks around the neighborhood to get fresh air -- but it was hard for me. I felt isolated and lonely much of the time. If I had to do it over, I think I would have gotten out more. I didn't like hearing him cry those 10 minutes, but I don't think it was good for him to have such an unhappy mommy. And I did so many other things to protect and nurture him -- co-sleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding -- I feel like 10 minutes in the car seat, though it may be difficult, is a "necessary evil".

But around 4 months it was like a switch was flipped, and he was much calmer in the car. We still only went on brief trips around town, and only between naptimes when he was fed, clean/dry, and well-rested. I do think at a certain point, your baby has to get used to riding in the car seat -- Lisa gave some good suggestions for making the ride a little smoother, so to speak. If you pull over and console her every time she squeaks, you won't be able to go anywhere, and staying home all the time is not good for your mental health. I'm not usually one to compromise on these types of things, but unless you live in a big city and can take public transport or walk everywhere, there's really no other choice -- you have to drive places. And I'm not sure that constantly stopping, consoling, then driving again is making the situation better. I think that sometime between 6-12 months, baby can and needs to learn that getting in the car seat means being there for a certain amount of time, and she can learn to play with toys to amuse herself -- just like babies need to learn to play independently for short amounts of time.

One other note -- if she's screaming and then falling asleep every time you're in the car, I would wonder if she's getting enough rest. If she's overtired all the time, she might be reacting to the sleepiness she feels due to the motion of the car, and fighting it by crying. Just something to think about.

*(I don't say that he was "high needs" because I think ALL babies NEED to be held, nursed, comforted, etc. -- but some babies are less "vocal" than others and when they are put in "mechanical mommies" and ignored, they will just stop signaling their attachment needs.)

Minnie - posted on 02/16/2010




Sounds like my daughter! I actually posted on the same thing here in this community. The good news is that there IS light at the end of the tunnel- you just have to be patient for it. A switch turned on (or off) with my 16 month old last week and she is content to look at a book and play with some toys while we're driving. I remember wondering time and again if she would ever be calm in the car.

Personally, I choose not to let her cry it out in the car. I don't want her to associate being in the car with her crying herself silly. I tend to her needs as quickly as I can just like at home, even if it means pulling over several times a trip and trips taking much longer.

Prior to that I always brought a slew of toys with me to toss back to her. We invariably ran out because each toy would only keep her attention for a minute or two...I usually ended up tossing things like my husband's safety glasses, pens (sheepish)...all sorts of things into her lap to buy me another two minutes here and there.

When it didn't seem like she would settle down from amusement I pulled over and nursed her in her carseat. That way she didn't have to go through the stress of being rebuckled. That got me about 15 minutes or so.

I never drove anywhere long with just myself. We've slowly extended her ability to be in the carseat with me driving to about an hour now. She has a favorite book, we sing songs and make funny animal noises (when she was younger, one time I meowed at her for a half hour straight to keep her happy). Pretzels are a big hit. I talk super excitedly about where we're going, and what I see outside.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms