Who hasn't experienced the screaming baby on a trip to pay the bills, go grocery shopping, or for the more adventurous a long road trip? It happens to all of us. For some mothers it is a constant battle and for others it is sporadic but when it happens it can be heartbreaking. None of us enjoy hearing our baby cry and this lack of enjoyment only increases when we are limited in our capability to fix the problem. Instead of focusing on what we cannot do this post will feature what we can do to help a crying car seat baby.
1. Assess the car seat - There is quite a bit to this step. Make sure the car seat is comfortable for the baby. Check the straps to see if they are too loose or too tight, make sure the incline is correct, feel the fabric and the buckles to see if they are super hot or cold, feel around for any hard bumps maybe a lost toy. You also want to check to see if your baby is being hit directly with sunlight as this causes many to cry.
2. Create a car toybox - Put several car safe toy in a car safe toybox. Then when baby cries reach back and hand him/her a toy, every time. The box should have a lid and be relatively soft. The toys should be soft as well, something that wouldn't harm baby if it went flying in a car crash.
3. Pull over - Sometimes, even when five minutes from your house, you just have to pull over and comfort baby for awhile. Enjoy this time together, I promise you'll miss it later and I promise it is more important than wherever you have to be in most cases.
4. Talk or Sing to baby - Many babies are soothed by their mother's voice. Even if baby isn't soothed they will know you care about them and hear them crying. It is a way of showing affection even when you can't stop the crying.
5. Put some ice in a mesh feeder or a baby sock - Many babies love to suck on these contraptions and it can keep them occupied quite a long time.
6. Offer a binky - If your baby takes a binky then be sure to offer it for the car ride. We have a special car binky.
7. Have a special car seat toy - This toy is only played with while in the car. Babies get bored easy so this helps create novelty.
8. Bring the car seat in the house and let baby play in it - This helps break down the association of car seat as something negative.
9. Place a poster safely on the seat in front of baby - They make special baby items for this purpose. It gives baby something to look at while you are driving.
10. Play music or white noise - Many babies are soothed by music or white noise.
11. Assess for a medical condition - Babies with reflux, for example, may need the incline of their car seat adjusted (within safety guidelines) to make sure that driving is comfortable for them. There are many baby items you can purchase to help with this.
Now I know I promised a list of things you can do versus things you shouldn't do but I fibbed a bit. I do feel the need to create a small list of "do-nots".
1. Do not leave handle up of the carseat unless the manual expressly says it is safe to do so. If it is safe to leave the handle up it is still not safe to hang toys from it.
2. Do no take baby out of car seat while you or someone else is driving. The risk is not worth the perceived benefit.
3. Do not turn around while driving, pull over if you must.
4. Do not turn the car seat around to forward-facing prematurely. A lot of people will say that their babies stopped hating the car seat once it was forward-facing. However, we now know that it is much safer to rear face your child for an extended period of time. The benefits of safety far outweigh the risk of having an unhappy child.