My baby hates the car! You are not alone Momma! Here are 7 hacks to make car trips calmer.
My son hated the car. As soon as I plugged him in he would start screaming. It didn’t matter if the drive was only a few minutes or a few hours, he would carry on like a pork chop the whole time.
I tried everything. Adjusted the straps multiple times, different car seats, a capsule, blanket, no blanket, hanging toys, pacifier, comforter, teddy, a mirror, even a photo of me at his feet. Very occasionally he would cry himself to sleep, but for the most part he would cry until we got him out of the car.
It was a nightmare, and heart breaking. I would end up in tears much of the time too. Every traffic light would send me into a mild panic as I willed them to stay green. It got to the point where I did not want to go anywhere; I was essentially housebound.
I thought I was the only one, and it wasn’t until I did some research (good old Google during those 2am feeds!) that I discovered there are others out there going through the same thing. I was not alone!
So what can you do to make car trips calmer when your baby hates the car?
1) Deep, slow breaths.
Hearing your baby wailing in the back seat is absolutely gut wrenching. It makes you feel anxious, stressed, upset and you can feel your blood pressure skyrocketing. When stuck in traffic, or on a road where it is not possible to stop, there is nothing you can do. Your baby wants to be in your arms but obviously that is not possible (or safe) when you are driving. So I found trying to keep calm and focus my attention elsewhere helped. I would take deep slow breaths and try to center myself. Before moving on to any tactics or tips to make car trips calmer, you need to find your calmest most centered place possible in the moment. Here we go…
2) Play some tunes.
I always loved playing music when driving. Singing and dancing along. For some reason I didn’t do that when first driving around with my baby son. However I quickly discovered that playing music helped calm me, and sometimes worked on my son too. Singing loudly so he could hear my voice helped soothe him. It gave me something else to focus on other then the screaming baby in the backseat and I found that it helped to control my stress levels.
3) Older siblings for the win!
My friends who have more then one child would tell me how their older sibling would pull faces, play peek-a-boo, sing and play with their younger sibling. They would entertain them and distract them enough that they wouldn’t spend the whole drive crying. If your little one is an only child, steal a friend or neighbors child to fill in as the sibling! If you are currently expecting check out our article on how to introduce your little one to their new sibling here
4) Take regular breaks.
On a long journey we would make sure we knew the good places to stop along the way. We would plan our trip around these places and make sure we took regular breaks when he would be due for a feed. It was hard, because most of the time he would start crying as soon as we put him back in his seat. However we needed that break to restore our nerves so we could remain calm and patient for the journey. Regular breaks go a long way in helping make car trips calmer for the whole family!
5) Put a big mirror in the back seat.
Some of the time your baby may be crying because he cannot see, smell or hear you. He may have separation anxiety, and having a mirror there may be enough to calm him as he can see you. This didn’t work with my son, but I have many friends who found it was the perfect solution. I kept the mirror there anyway as I could see what he was doing. If your baby is a little older, you can also get a back seat organizer. Our stroller organizer attaches to most back seats using the adjustable straps. You can hold small toys and activities in this organizer or if your car seat does not have a cup holder, you can use the insulated cup holders on the organizer to store your little one’s bottle or sippy cup.
6) Sit in the backseat with your baby.
Obviously this will not work if you are the one driving! However if your partner is behind the wheel then jump in the backseat with your infant and see if that helps. Talk soothingly and let him hold your hand. This is sure to make car trips calmer.
7) Most importantly, resist the temptation to turn your baby car seat forward facing too early.
I tell you, this was a strong temptation. I kept thinking maybe he just wants to see where we are going or maybe he gets motion sickness. Whatever the reason, I thought that switching his seat around would help. However, it is important to resist. Babies are safest when they are rearward facing. I know, the changes of having a car accident are slim but are you really willing to risk the health and safety of your baby for a few minutes of silence?
Rachel Maree specializes in writing for small businesses in the health, fitness, pregnancy and parenthood industries. She is also a mum to 2 beautiful children and registered nurse. She loves her hectic life. It lends her inspiration and experiences to write intriguing, funny and informative articles and stories. You can find more of her work on www.writefreelancerforyou.com.au or connect with her on Facebook