36 answers

10 Wk Old Unhappy in Car Seat

We have a Graco Snugride car seat, and my 10 wk old daughter cries uncontrollably when in it. She screams, cries, tearing, red faced, fist shaking, to the point of almost gagging... it is just awful. I dread long car rides, pull over every 5-10 minutes. She can be perfectly happy before getting in the seat, and still has this reaction. My son was in the same seat and was fine. We have changed the angle by adding padding underneath the base, didn't help. We are going to try another seat. My question is, has anyone had this experience? Can a different seat make a difference? How do you know what to look for in a different seat?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you so much for all the responses. Some of you said switching car seats did make a difference, so we went ahead and bought the Britax convertible (which we were planning to get eventually anyway, when she outgrew the infant seat). It DID make a difference. We have taken several long rides and she is fine, even happy! It even LOOKS more comfortable! We had tried everything with the Graco (toys, music, I was usually sitting back there with her, sitting in the seat in the house - which she would also scream at..., talked to the doctor about possible reflux, etc), nothing else worked. We will miss the convenience of the 'bucket', but so happy that she is happy in the car now!!!!


Featured Answers

Have you thought that she may have some sort of stomach issue such as reflux? I know a lot of babies that have it hate the car seat because the way they sit squishes their little tummies. Just a thought!

I have not had this problem myself as of yet. I am due with my 2nd in October I hope he like his car seat like his brother did. But my mom said I hated the car seat from birth until about 1 years old. She thinks I was car sick but I think it is strange for a newborn to get car sick. I can understand a one year old but a new born? She just dealt with me crying but I could never deal with that especially at only 10 weeks of age.
Have you asked the pediatrician? My sons doc is awesome with stuff like this. Maybe you do need a new seat? Good luck!

I had the exact problem with my second daughter. It started at about nine weeks and I'm sorry to say lasted until she was acout six months old. We tried everything and decided it may have been car sickness and riding backwards. Nothing helped her unless she fell asleep, but often would wake up screaming and often threw up. We could not find anything to help, it eventually got less and less severe until it finally subsided.

More Answers

its the baby not the carseat, hun. my youngest was like that. she was so distressed in the car until she was prob 18 months old. it was awful and i wanted to tear my hair out. Something about it bothers her, so, your just going to have to try your hardest to not go anywhere. SOunds ridiculous but thats that. Mine would scream like she was being stabbed on the 3 minute ride to my moms, nevermind the 30 min ride to the pediatrician. It was awful. If my hubby was there I would climb into the back and painstakenly pop a boob in her mouth to nurse for as much of the ride as possible...which was in NO WAY comfortable! we just stayed home as much as we could until she got over it, good luck!

Hi K.,
My daughter hated the infant seat, cried for 3 months, before i switched her to a convertible seat that started at 8 lbs, still rear facing. She did great after that. If you go that route, you might want to throw your snug ride in the back of the car for carring purposes at the grocery store and such, it's kind of a pain before they can sit up.
good luck

I have the same car seat. My son doesn't generally mind riding in it, but I know he can get very hot in there this time of year. Are you keeping the seat in the house as opposed to the car (so it will stay cooler)? Also, if he's not going any where he has to be dressed upon emerging from the car, I often just take him in a diaper and dress him when we get where we're going. If you think your daughter may be too hot you could try that. Sometimes I give my son a cold, wet baby washcloth to suck on. I'm not sure he could have managed that at 10 wks, but he loves it now and it helps him stay cool and hydrated. Good luck and hopefully it's a phase that will pass!

Hi K.. I suggest you don't waste the money. My son was the exact same way until he was about 6 months old. We tried a few different seats but it didnt make any difference. The only suggestion i have is purchase some type of toy that hangs in the car to entertain him or a toy bar that plays music. Good luck.

Hi K.. I noticed a lot of people responding that you can't hang toys from the carseat bar which is true but they do make hanging toys for the headrest of the back seat or that suction cup to the window. Fisher Price also makes a kick mat that hangs over the back of the rear seat in the car with a mirror plays music has toys attatched and when the baby can kick will play music and other sounds by kicking it. There are plenty of toys out there to entertain your little one in the car.

We have that same car seat and my 15 week old loved it, until he was strong enough to pull his head up about a month ago. Since then he has hated it, not because its uncomfortable but because it doesnt let him pull himself up more. We did try our convertible carseat, but the same thing happened. We tried the Baby Einstein CD's the car, and that seems to distract him enough to make a difference.

It could be the carseat, I would suggest purchasing a convertible seat. You are going to need one sooner or later anyways. My son outgrew his infant seat by 6 months. We have the Britax Roundabout that has outstanding reviews. Our son who is now 2 1/2 loves his seat. It is very padded and comfortable for him. You could purchase a seat like that and try it out to see if it makes a difference. Also I would recommend getting a mirror or something that attaches to the seat. We had one from fisher price that had music and lights that you could turn on and off with a remote it was fabulous!
** Like another poster mentioned you are NEVER supposed to leave the bar up on the infant seat when in the car it needs to be in locked position behind the seat!!! If you have it up and get into an accident it can injure your child if it breaks. Also putting a towel in the seat like someone mentioned would not be a good idea. Changing the position that the child is in the seat could interfere with how well the seat will protect the child! The seats are made a certain way for a reason and that is the way the are safety tested!

Try a convertible seat and goodluck! :)
Also the snugride seat bases are adjustable so you shouldn't need to add pading under the base.

I have not had this problem myself as of yet. I am due with my 2nd in October I hope he like his car seat like his brother did. But my mom said I hated the car seat from birth until about 1 years old. She thinks I was car sick but I think it is strange for a newborn to get car sick. I can understand a one year old but a new born? She just dealt with me crying but I could never deal with that especially at only 10 weeks of age.
Have you asked the pediatrician? My sons doc is awesome with stuff like this. Maybe you do need a new seat? Good luck!

hi kim!!I really think this is a phase,my son who is now 13months went threw that(if you look at my history i actually asked mammasourse what to do, if you dont get alot of responses you could always look back into mine)anyway,he would cry uncontolably it was aweful!!You shouldnt get a new seat honestly it lasted probaly 2-3wks.He was 12weeks at the time so just hang in there,oh i feel for you though i hated going anywhere!!Just keep going on short rides and maybe play some kids music(we still listen to the same one i had went out and bought in hopes of calming him and he loves it!!)Good luck,hang in there-promise it will go away!!

My daughter did the same thing when she was about that age (in that same carseat) and I was just beside myself. My mother suggested that maybe I had her strapped in too tight. I was SURE that I was doing it right...I mean I had attended the class at the hospital and all :) But, I loosened them just a little and it worked like a charm!!

Good luck and let us know how it works out!

My daughter cried every time we buckled her into her carseat, too. She hated it. I stopped pulling over to check on her because that only made the car rides longer and her more mad when I wouldn't take her out--or worse, when I did take her and I had to put her back in! So...long story short, finally she calmed down and realized the carseat was a permenant part of life. At about 4 months, she was better and has been a great carseat girl ever since! I would just remind yourself there is nowhere safer she can be than her carseat and as long as she is not too hot/cold or it is not too tight, she is just learning to adjust. Put on some calming music and know that your baby is not happy, but at least she is SAFE.

I often had the same issues my now one year old when she was in her graco snugride. Fortunately, it did not happen every time we got into the car but it was often enough for me to switch her to the Britax Roundabout when she was about 4 months. Once, I made the swich I never had to worry about her in the car again. I did miss being able to tote her around in the carseat but the fact that I didn't have to worry about her freaking out in the car made that much more bearable. I just don't think she was every really that comfortable in her snugride. Now, if she is the least bit tired, she falls asleep almost the moment I snap her into her Britax. I also started using different carriage (another Graco but not one with the carseat snapped in) around the same time and walks were much more pleasant from that point on too. It might be worth it to purchase a new carseat now, since you will have to eventually anyway. I think the Britax carseat is good up until 45 lbs, I think. Good luck!

This is a long shot but --
Is she sensitive to fabrics or laundry soap? My youngest son would fuss and fuss with some fabrics and I had to use dye free laundry soap for all his clothing, bedding and car seat covers. I still have to cut the tags out of most of clothings - preventing me from consigning them afterwards.

For a short time we used imitation lambs wool pads on the car seat straps to keep him comfy.

Try setting her in different car seats while not moving - see if it is the car seat or the motion of the car that gets to her.

Yes, yes, yes! My little girl (now 6 months) screamed and screamed hysterically in her Graco carseat. We changed carseats (to a Britax Marathon) and within 2 days she had completely stopped crying in the car. I can't explain it but I know it works! Good luck.

Hi K.,

My son hated the infant car seat. As soon as I changed him to a regular car seat that still faced backwards, he was really happy! Car seats can make a difference, wish I had changed him sooner.

E. P.

HI K.-
My daughters both went through this at about the same age. They screamed the whole time they were in the car. But it passed. It was tougher with my first child because I hated her to cry at all! With the second I was just waiting for it to pass! And it did.
I think they were just old enough to figure out that when they cried I changed whatever it was that upset them. When I didn't take them out of the seat they just cried more! Obviously you can't take her out of the seat- it's where she needs to be. Eventually she'll get the hang of if. You just need to wait her out. Try playing some soothing music- not for her though- for you! Some loud rock music might help to drown out the crying too! :-)

I do have one more piece of advice... I read the other comments and was a bit concerned about the advice to hang toys from the handle bar. You know that the handle on your infant seat needs to be completely in the lowered position when in use? If you got in an accident the handle bar will hit the seat back and keep the carseat from absorbing the impact correctly. All infant seats must have the handle down while in use. That means no hanging toys accept when in a grocery store or just sitting in the seat!
The instruction manual will go over this as well. But it is always shocking to me to see so many people driving around with the handle bars up! Scary!
Good luck and hang in there- it will pass.

Has she had this reaction since day one with this seat? I'm thinking it might not be the seat. My little guy was totally happy in the car for 2 and a half months when suddenly he decided to hate life while riding. Same response as yours, and it was just horrible! We found some light and music toys which helped, but it was about a 2 month phase. I hated going anywhere! Oh, singing to him helped, too. To eliminate the 'it's just a phase' theory, you might want to try putting her in a friend's carseat to see if there's a difference in behavior before purchasing a new one. Best wishes!

hi there, maybe you have tried this but, have you put some hanging toys on the handle bar or a mirror on the back of the seat facing her? we had similar issues with our son, who is now 10 1/2 months old but he seemed to outgrow them... sometimes reaching back and rocking the car seat a little (not that you can very much since they are strapped down so well) helped our son. We had a Graco Safeseat and he got over most of the issues he had with it after a few months, but he definitely prefers to front face... hope she gets over it soon!

Ugh, it's totally normal for that age, unfortunately. All three of my kids went through it around the 2-4 month age. I talked soothingly to them and meanwhile kept car trips to a minimum. It's rough on baby AND mom. Unfortunately, my eleven month old is having an encore performance right now too :(


This is a list of idea's giving to me when I took Great Beginnings at Isis Maternity.

Any one (or more) of the following strategies may help sove your car seat dilemma. If the first one you try fails, choose another one, then another, eventually, you'll hit upon the right solution for your baby.

Make sure that your baby is healthy.
If the car seat crying is something new, and your baby has been particularly fussy at home, too, our baby may have an ear infection or other illness. A visit to the doctor is in order.

Bring the car seat in the house and let your baby sit and play in it.
Once it becomes more familiar in the house, she may be happier to sit there in the car.

Keep a special box of car toys that you'll use only in the car.
If these are interesting enoug, they may hold her attention.

Tape or hang toys for viewing.
You can do this on the back of the seat that your baby is facing or string an array of lightweight toys from the ceiling using heaby tape and yarn. Pleace them just at arm's reach so that your bay can bat at them from her seat. (the police would advise against hanging toys but tape a picture from a magazine to the seat the baby looks at - babies love looking at faces)

make a car mobile.
Link a long row of plastic baby chains from one side of the backseat to the other. Clip new toys onto the chain for each trip.

Hang a made-for-baby poster on the back of the seat that faces your baby.
These are ususally black, white, red and bold primary colors; some even have pockets so you can change the pictures (remember to do this, since changing the scenery is very helpful)

Experiment with different types of music in the car.
Some babies enjoy lullabies or music tapes made especially for young children; others surprise you by calming down as soon as you play one of your favorites. Some babies enjoy hearing Mom or Dad sing, more than anything else! (For some reason, a rousing chorus of "Rudolf the Red-Nosed-Reindeer" has always been a good choice for us, even out of season. My daughter likes 'wheels on the bus' the best.

Try 'white noise' in the car.
You can purchase CD's of soothing nature sounds or you can make a recording of your vacuum cleaner!

Practice with short, pleasant trips when your baby is in a good mood.
It helps if someone can sit near and keep her entertained. A few good experineces may help set a new pattern.

Try a pacifier or teething toy.
When your baby has something to suck or chew on he may be happier.

Hang a mirror
That way your baby can see you (and you can see your baby) while you are driving. baby stores offer specialty mirrors made especially for this prupse. When in her seat, she may think that you're not there, and just seeing your face will help her feel better.

Put up a sunshade in the window.
This can be helpful if you suspect that sunshine in your baby's face may be a problem.

Try to consolidate trips
Trip-chaining is effective, especially if you avoid being in the car for long periods of time, and you don't have many ins-and-outs.

Make sure your baby hasn't outgrown her car seat.
If her legs are confined, or her belts are too tight, she may find her seat to be uncomfortable.

At home try an exercise ball.
Strap the baby into the car seat and put it on top of an exercise ball. Hold onto the handle with one hand and your babies hand with your other. Bounce the car seat up and down. This might help to settle the baby while in the car seat. If she gets used to being in the car seat you might have an easier time.

Try opening a window.
Fresh air and a nice breeze can be soothing.

If all else fails... take the bus.

Good luck,
L. M

A suggestion: have her hips checked for hip displasia (sp). My youngest (now a Mom at 25 yrs herself) screamed in the car seat and when I lifted her legs to change her diaper. It was discovered her left hip had no place for the leg joint and the right wasn't great. She was in a harness for 9 mos, and her little soft bones formed perfectly. She was a soccer player, skier, and still is very active running today. She had her daughter checked and she had mild displasia and used a harness at night for a few months.
Best of Luck

my daughter did the same thing. We got her some bracelet at ride aid for car sickness. It did work and also so soothing music for her. I know it is not much advise but it work. GOOD LUCK

Question is .. maybe she doesn't like the car ride? Maybe try some Classical Music -- Baby Einstein CD for your car might help. I went through that with my son and what a pain in the neck!! See if that works, if not you might have a very vocal baby to tell you "Mommy I'm not liking this!" and she is putting her foot down.

My daughter and son were both the same way, and we did end up changing their car seats. It didn't completely solve the problem, but did help quite a bit and now as a 2yo my daughter rides very happily (my son still screams sometimes, but not always). If you're going to change carseats, I suggest going for a convertible since you'll need one for her eventually anyway. We took my daughter to a store and let her try every convertible carseat on display. She only liked one, so that's the one we got!


My son was the same way when he was little. As a tiny infant he only like car rides that were REALLY bumpy; he also only liked the old fashioned swing that had a lot more motion to it than the newer ones. Is your daughter that kind of baby? I found myself pumping the breaks at stop lights to keep him happy. This lasted until he was a few months old. I did also find that he hated his first seat. I tried a couple of friends's seats and found he preferred one where he could see more. I added some loud toys and a mirror behind my seat to keep him entertained, but he was never a totally content kid in a seat. Eventually he got over the hysterical stage though. Hang in there; it's trial and error, but I'm sure you'll find something to make it work!

My son is the same exact way. Ive checked his seat many times thinking there was something sticking out and poking him, but found nothing. At his 2 month appt. I told his pedi about it and she said that thats normal for some babies, they just hate their carseat, but he will get used to it. Ive also looked into buying another seat (I have a graco as well) but all of them seem to be at the same depth. Right now I have him proped up on a small towel and he seems to be doing a little better. Were heading down to Pennsylvania in a few weeks so Im hoping this will keep him quiet for most of the ride(8 hours)! Good luck and if you find that something else helps or find a seat that works well with crying babies, post it up!

I wish I could say that my child outgrew this but unfortunately she hasn't yet and she is now 2. For her, I think part of it is acid reflux. Sometimes the position of the car seat can make the reflux worse in kids (for some better, for some worse is what her GI doc said). If this isn't the case for your child, have you tried bringing the car seat inside and testing her out in it inside - just to get her more used to it? And maybe for car rides making a point of having someone sit in the back with her whenever possible? Toys certainly can offer some distraction too. I hope you figure out something that works for you. (((hugs)))

I don't think the change in car seat will make a difference. I would look for things like being scared of being alone in the back, hating to be strapped in, car sickness and then such. My daughter never liked the car at that age and we just had to find ways to entertain her the whole ride and she was fine.

I guess I would check out physical possibilities before assuming it is an emotional reaction, which may be all that is happening. I don't know if your child is crying at other times or having any other symptoms. My son (who is now 15 months old) used to cry terribly in the car seat. Around 10 weeks, he was diagnosed with GERD (reflux or heartburn). In addition to crying in the car seat, he cried after most feedings. He didn't spit up as much at 10 weeks old as he did later (the spitup got worse at about 5 months or so), so we didn't initially suspect GERD. Once he was treated for the GERD, the car rides became much easier. Apparently the positioning in the car seat can put pressure on the sphincter and increase the reflux symptoms. Just another possibility to look at.

Have you thought that she may have some sort of stomach issue such as reflux? I know a lot of babies that have it hate the car seat because the way they sit squishes their little tummies. Just a thought!

Hi K.. I am a mom of 3. My youngest is 13 mos today. She hated her seat also. She would be happy up until I put her in it. She eventually got over it though after many times of me pulling over to check her. I agree with getting a bar to entertain her a little. She probably won't be able to play with it for a while, but it's something for her to look at. I wouldn't bother getting a new seat. I'm sure the one you have is fine and she will cry in any one for a while.
Good luck

I feel for you! My son, who will be one soon, still dislikes riding in his carseat. It's gotten better as he was exactly like you describe when younger. I had to turn around and go home when trying to do errands. We try to time long trips (no more than an hour usually) around his naps. He still doesn't sleep long in the car. Also, my husband recorded himself singing and if the baby starts crying we play that and it calms him down. You never know what's going to work with kids! We're hoping it will be better when we turn the seat facing forward. Hang in there!

Do you have one of those mirrors that goes on the back seat? We had one, and not only did it allow me to watch my daughter while she was rear facing, it kept her entertained. Even when she was as young as your daughter she was entertained m=by her own image. Good luck!

could it be she gets car sick? i am the proud grama of 15mth old twin girls. as infants, when the car seat faced backwards, one of the girls would cry hysterically after about twenty minutes in the car. needless to say trips were cancelled and therer were numerous stops made whenever they did have to ride in the car. once the car seat was turned around to face front and she could see outside, see her mom driving, etc., things have improved greatly. she still gets upset at times but not as quick and not as severe. my daughter plans her outings carefully, trying to coincide the bulk of the driving with nap time and this seems to help a great deal. you also could try one of those little mirrors you hang on the back of the seat so you both can see each other. good luck

We are having the same issue with our 6 week old. We also added padding, but it has not helped. She seems to do a little better if there is someone in the back with her, but for the most part, she screams her head off until we take her out. My husband and I are also considering a different seat, but I'm not sure it will make a difference.

I had the exact problem with my second daughter. It started at about nine weeks and I'm sorry to say lasted until she was acout six months old. We tried everything and decided it may have been car sickness and riding backwards. Nothing helped her unless she fell asleep, but often would wake up screaming and often threw up. We could not find anything to help, it eventually got less and less severe until it finally subsided.

Hi K.,
I certainly can relate to your situation. My daughter, who is now 13 weeks old, was the same way--she used to SCREAM whenever we put her in her car seat! It was terrible and it made me not want to go anywhere in the car. Now she likes the car and seems to be quite comfortble in her car seat. I don't know if she got used to the feel of the seat or if it is because I put strap covers over the straps. (I was concerened they were rubbing against her neck) You can find the strap covers at babies r us if you are interested. I hope things improve for you and your daughter in the car!
Good luck.


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