The picture to the right is of my newborn son leaving the hospital. As you can see, he was not very happy about being strapped into a car seat. We quickly learned that car rides from that day on were going to be a painful experience for him and for us.
The first difficult task I had to learn was to focus on the driving and ignore the crying. I always made sure to feed, burp and change him before car rides and used a back seat mirror in the car for reassurance that despite the screaming, he was safe. I also talked to him to give him assurance that I was there, in case he had separation anxiety.
With time, I learned ways to keep him entertained and comfortable, and car rides became a more pleasant experience. Here are my tips to calm babies who hate car rides.
No Fuss Car Ride Tip #1: Check The Straps
For safety reasons the straps should be snug (with no slack), but make sure they are not too tight.
No Fuss Car Ride Tip #2: Support
It is important for babies to feel secure and having some cushioning around them can help. It also prevents their heads from falling side to side (particularly newborns with no head control). You can place a rolled towel, diaper, or receiving blanket on both sides, or buy a head support.
No Fuss Car Ride Tip #3: Play Music/White Noise
See how your baby responds to different tunes. Play lullabies, different kinds of music, white noise, or just leave the AM radio making static noise. White noise always calmed my son. I recommend the The Happiest Baby Super Soothing White Noise CD.
No Fuss Car Ride Tip #4: Pacifier/Teether
Pacifiers soothe babies and help them fall asleep. They are also a distraction for babies during stressful situations such as shots, car and plane rides. I recommend attaching the pacifier to a holder that helps baby better manipulate the pacifier, such as the adorable and functional Nookums Paci-Plushies pacifier holders. If your baby is teething, give him a chilled teething ring or a teething blankie, which not only provides teething relief, but is also a security blanket.
No Fuss Car Ride Tip #5: Sunshade
Window shades help block the sun out of baby’s eyes. I highly recommend it!
No Fuss Car Ride Tip #6: Open The Window
The fresh air and whooshing noise may help. It worked with my kids, even when they got older (it’s a great distraction).
No Fuss Car Ride Tip #7: Car Seat Toys
There are so many toys that can be attached to the car seat that entertain and engage babies. My son liked the Lamaze Moose the Mortimier, which is a multi-purpose toy with multiple textures, vibrant colors, sounds, rings and teether antlers.
No Fuss Car Ride Tip #8: Dress Baby Lightly
When a baby cries in a car seat, he gets warm, particularly if he is wearing multiple layers of clothing. Dressing him lightly avoids overheating.
If you’ve tried all of these tips and nothing seems to work, talk to your pediatrician. Your baby may suffer from motion sickness.