When your baby HATES the car! 👶🏼🚗
Most babies love the car! So what if your baby hates car journeys? I can fully sympathise with you.
Seeing my baby getting distressed was enough to leave me feeling anxious to the point of physically feeling sick and could quite easily of stayed ‘safe’ at home.
Unlike when I had my first two children, I was back driving again within a few days. Bonnie arrived through the emergency sun roof (c-section) and therefore I didn’t get back behind the wheel for around three weeks.
The first couple of days were fine, we were able to put her in the car seat and have a day out.
By the time Bonnie was 5 weeks old, car journeys had become VERY distressful for her. She would get herself so worked up, even just being placed into her car seat.
She had been so used to being near me (we co-sleep, baby wear, breastfeed) that I think she found it distressful not being able to be close to me. I also wonder whether her birth had anything to do with the fact that she doesn’t like straps over her shoulders, as she had the cord wrapped tight around her neck 3 times. She was also not keen on the pushchair, highchair, swing etc. Anything that had straps.
Also being mid summer, we found the car seat material didn’t help as it made her hot and sweaty, so we placed a hand towel or muslin in the seat as a liner.
Here is what else we done:
6 Weeks old we changed car seat:
– To a Maxi-Cosi Pebble which had a 5-point harness (so it was less disturbance putting her arms in and out) instead of 3 point.
– With Iso-fix so it was easier to get the car seat in/out without disturbing her, it also made the car seat a bit higher and slightly more upright, so she was more comfy.
– Took the newborn insert out (she was quite a big baby, so this made her feel too restrained) but check your manufacturers safety guidelines,
– Put a large mirror on the back headrest, so I could see her when driving.
– Baby Einstein music / White Noise via Bluetooth helped (sometimes)
– Lamaze toys attached to the handle and also a cosy cat toy (that had buttons/zips etc to fiddle with)
When she started to get upset (before she got too distressed) I always pulled over as soon as I could, fed/rocked her, then put her back in. Which sometimes worked, but sometimes didn’t.
Once a 3 mile journey took two hours!
At 6 months old:
Journeys were a little bit better, Bonnie could reach her hands and play with her toys, and I had learnt to time it just right, by knowing her cues for tiredness (see my other article further down, about baby’s sleep window)
– Always kept her car seat in the car (not indoors) I found she didn’t get upset knowing that we were about to get in the car, and from day one I have always explained what we were doing “Bonnie going in the car with mummy to….” (Repetition is key!)
– made sure we got in the car when she was due a nap or straight after a nap (basically when she is not overtired)
– never wrap her up (only her indoor clothes) then covered her with a blanket if needed in winter (so she didn’t get too hot)
– made sure she’s not hungry/thirsty/had a clean nappy
– familiar music (we downloaded the sing and sign class songs, Teletubbies and Mr. Tumble) that we played from the start of a journey
– opened the window slightly (nearest to her, and a front window, so eases pressure on the ears). We did this if she started to get upset, and it settled her very quickly.
At 9 months old (and weighing nearly 22lb)
– We have bought Bonnie the next stage car seat, still rearward facing (Which we will do so until she is 4 years old) We opted for the Britax Romer DualFix. It’s higher up, and now Bonnie can see better out of the window (although it has great reclining positions for if she goes to sleep)
I’m still not too confident going on long journeys, but now at 9 months we have almost cracked it!
I have also learnt that if I start the engine and put her ‘familiar’ songs on before putting Bonnie in the car, that also really helps too.
I have also come across parents that have taken their baby go see a Cranial Osteopath – which has also really helped their babies. So that might be worth a try to!
Even if one of these tips (that you may have not already tried) help you, I wish you good luck and hope your baby starts to enjoy car journeys more.
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