9 Month Old Cries Constantly While Riding in Car

Updated on July 11, 2008
L.K. asks from Blanding, UT
26 answers

My sister-in-law (who I've told and invited to this website, but hasn't tried it yet) has a beautiful 9 month old boy who tends to cry almost non-stop while riding in the car. She lives about 30 minutes from her parents and goes there often and she says that almost every time he cries the whole way. When she just runs short errands, he is fine. She is afraid to travel very far because of it. My husband and I live about 5 hours away, and she really wants to come visit. We were there just a couple of weeks ago, and we all had went camping at a spot about 25 minutes from my in-laws home. When we were ready to head back to town, my sister-in-law was just going to go straight home, but had to stop at her parents because her son had just screamed the whole time he was in the car. I know she makes sure he has a bottle or his cup before she goes anywhere. She has also tried to use different toys to keep him entertained and makes sure he has been fed. He has being doing this since he was born. I feel so bad for her, anyone got any tips that may help her?

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So What Happened?

Thank you all very much for your advice!! I will be mailing a copy of all your responses to my sister-in-law, since she has no computer and her mother's computer isn't working for time being. She uses the library's computer once in a while, but I want to be sure that she gets all the advice ya'all (I'm from a small town:) have shared. I'll also tell her over the phone, but think she should have a hard copy for herself. Again, I want to thank everyone who responded!! I think mamasource is one of the best websites to have come along!

Thanks, ya'all:)!
L. Kreth

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S.L.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I have had two babies that have done this. I have not found anything that works. The only good thing I can tell you is they do grow out of it. You just have to find patience. Sometimes music will help. My son loved music with a heavy beat. This too shall pass!

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R.B.

answers from Boise on

My youngest used to be the same way, Things that helped were: bringing snacks, getting an upright rear facing carseat and best of all having the other kids talk and play with her. We don't have airbags so sometimes we would put her up front, she really liked that

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S.B.

answers from Denver on

Is she hot. I didn't dawn on me that mine were getting hot back there until way too late. There wasn't a whole lot i could do as my car was old...but dres them lightly.

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H.W.

answers from Colorado Springs on

AAAAAAAAgggggggghhhhhhh.
Tylenol!
Lots of it for the driver. I have 6 kids and two of them...two...of course the younger two...the ones that HAVE to be in the car constantly for everyone's activities...were like this. Nothing stopped it. My youngest is now 2 1/2 and still demanding in the car despite ever changing music, toys, snacks and people sitting next to him (we have to take turns here as no one ever wants to!).
God bless her!

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G.A.

answers from Billings on

Hi, I feel for your sister. It is really tough and dangerous driving and having a screaming kid behind you. Have your sister try a different car seat. Maybe there is something that is making him feel uncomfortable.

Also, he may be a child who gets car sick. If they feel sick, they will cry and they can't tell you.

Sometimes they maybe too hot or cold - give him a small blankee. I think sometimes we don't realize that the air conditioning may be too cold for them or maybe not enough.

Sometimes, we don't realize too, that the sun is in their eyes. When they face backward you can't always see what they see. We have had to use the window screens on the back window to keep the light out of their eyes.

One other thing we do is put a mirror on the back seat so that they can see. Maybe face it so he can see mommy in the mirror from his position. Then he won't feel alone. And we use mirrors so that when you look in the rear view mirror, you can see the baby and what is going on. They make these for cars and just for this.

And we put in child Cd's or tapes. That would calm our grandson.

Good luck.

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D.K.

answers from Denver on

It will stop but my daughter went through the same thing for a few months. Make sure she is comfy in her seat, well fed and changed. Having a crying baby is very stressful for the driver and I remember DREADING red lights or stop signs as my daughter was fine until we stopped, it was frustrating. Maybe get her something that can attach to her carseat that will keep her entertained? I know that when they are reversed and facing backwards it is hard on them not to see Mommy so maybe something she can see from her viewpoint, they even have mirrors so she can see the front while she is riding. It will pass, I don't have much on tips as to how to end it sooner however, just be sympathetic to the mom as it is hard!

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K.J.

answers from Salt Lake City on

my husband and i take turns sitting in the backseat with our 5 month old son during longer travels. we think he gets bored being back there alone

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H.W.

answers from Boise on

Is the carseat adjusted properly? I wonder if he's uncomfortable or being pinched somehow.

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A.C.

answers from Denver on

I wonder if she has him sitting in a forward or rear facing car seat? My son will be 9 months on July 17th and he loves riding in the "big boy" car seat. I think it's because he can see us parents in the front and he can also look out the front window. Sometimes at night he gets scared in the car but we just turn on a dim light or reassure him that everything is okay. I hope that helps!

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T.B.

answers from Denver on

L.,
I have heard many times that simply changing the car seat works like a charm. She may just be uncomfortable. Since car seats are expensive, I would reccomend one that will work until a booster seat is needed. I highly reccomend the Britax Marathon car seat! Aside from being a car seat she can use from infant to toddler, it is also the safest car seat available on the market right now since it is crash tested at 65mph insted of most car seats which are only tested at 35mph!
You could also try lavender linen spray. Lavender is very calming and I use this for my son in his crib to help him sleep. I also use it on his changing table when he squirms durring changing. It works like a charm!
My sister in law (Owner of Bubble Goddess Bath Co) has created an all natural linen spray allong with many other natural bath products safe for babies!
Check it out at bubblegoddessbathco.com and let me know if anything interests you. I would be happy to get it ordered for you and answer any questions you have!

Good luck to your sister-in-law! I know how frusterating having a crying baby in the car can be! My niece was the same way!

T. B.
Team Leader
Bubble Goddess Bath Co
"Natural Bath Products For Your Inner Goddess"
###-###-####
[email protected]____.com

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S.C.

answers from Denver on

We also went through this. The only thing that worked was singing her favorite song loudly and repeatedly. It kept her focused on something else. Someone else mentioned a DVD, that might have done it, but we didn't have one. I think it got better when she got into the forward facing seat.

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C.H.

answers from Wichita on

Both of my boys were like this. What I would have given for my babies to sleep in the car! My husband also gets car sick so it was probably the issue for us. We made sure they were well fed (but not right before we left) and sometimes it helped to slightly open a window next to them. Also, I've had benedryl suggested to us, but it never seemed to make a difference. My youngest is now 20 months and still throws some fits but not near as badly. I've been there! They do eventually grow out of it. Good luck to you!

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D.P.

answers from Denver on

Maybe try getting a dvd player and some dvds that he might enjoy, singing and other little ones playing. Our little one doesn't like the car so well either but likes watching movies. Good luck.

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S.S.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi There,
If the baby is still in a car seat that faces the back of the seat he could be crying because he can't see mom. He can hear her but not see her. If he is front facing then you might want to get his ears checked out. I have a grandson who was fine in the car until they hit the first corner and then he'd start crying. They found out he had water in his ears and it was painful for him as they went around bends and corners. They got it taken care of and he's been fine since.
Good Luck!

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T.W.

answers from Salt Lake City on

as with some other moms, my baby girl was completely fine once we were able to turn her seat forward facing. until 6 month she wasn't really used to riding in a car because we lived out of country and didn't have one. so i think that made things harder once we moved back to the US. but also a mirror helped in some circumstances. try a mirror, where he can see mom and mom can see him. otherwise, she may just have to limit lengthy car rides until he's old enough to be forward facing.

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O.L.

answers from Denver on

My DS1 used to cry all the time in the car... ugh, it was awful. The one thing that really helped us a lot was to cover up the car seat with a thin blanket so DS couldn't see out. I don't know why it worked, but it made a HUGE difference.

My DS2 often cries in the car, but for him it seems to be when he gets too hot. If we cool the car off before we plunk his seat in there, he usually does fine.

Good luck to your SIL!

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A.J.

answers from Tucson on

Is he still in one of those infant carriers? If so she might want to try getting him a different car seat. Both our kids wanted out of that seat and into a bigger one by the time they were 5 months old. Sometimes that recline is boring and they struggle to sit up and look around. Of course he needs to be rear facing but he can sit up and look out better in a convertible car seat

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L.B.

answers from Denver on

Hi L.,

We went through this with our first baby. It took me until she was nine months to think of the motion sickness possibility, and that was it. Our pediatrician said at that age, we could try a little benadryl to treat the motion sickness - it did help but not too much. What helped most was if she had something to focus on - so I usually tried to hire a helper (yes, expensive) to sit in the back seat and play with her and keep her focused on something other than the things moving outside the car. It helped, but often I just sang her favorite songs for what seemed like forever, we came up with a version of Old MacDonald where we went through the alphabet and then did it all over again! :)

I'll bet a DVD player would work, we didn't have one at the time, but it should help keep eyes focused on one spot.

My DD did a complete turnaround when we were finally able to turn her forward facing - unfortunately, she didn't reach 20 pounds until she was 2, so it was a LONG two years.

We did spend so much time at home, going on walks, and trying to have playdates at our house. Driving was awful, and we were quite isolated. Also, all that could contribute to some post partum depression for mama, so help her look out for how all this effects her!

Best wishes.

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M.S.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Not to be a bearer of bad news but it sounds like she is doing all that she can right now. It is possible that he is feeling a little motion sickness where long drives would make it worse. Or he could simply be bored. My daughter hated it while her seat was rear facing because she couldn't really see anything. It is possible that until he is forward facing he may have a hard time. She could ask her pediatrician if they have any ideas, but it just might be a time and age thing.

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K.W.

answers from Boise on

Hey, I feel her pain!! My now 18mo old was the same way. He cried incessently in the car. My first guess was that he didn't like the altitude change we drove through daily, but it turned out that the very day I changed the harness level on his carseat, he was fine. I now pay attention better to where the harness hits him, tight but not too tight (don't want it cutting into him) and he is a great car baby now. OK, actually, he tries to outsing the other two, so I guess aside from the unbelievable volume of noise in my car, it's a good ride.

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V.G.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Hmm...I went through my mental checklist. The only thing I could think of is that at 9 months he's in a rear facing seat. He might be getting harsh sun exposure. I know my carseat's sunshade isn't sufficient because when the seat lays into the base it angles the seat back which means the sun gets in my daughter's eyes.

He might also feel some anxiety in the car either because of the motion or because he can't see mom. In 3 months when he moves into a forward facing position, hopefully, that will subside. Has she tried having someone he's comfortable with ride with him in the back to see if that soothes him? If that's the case, he'll grow out of it, so tell her to hang in there.

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A.P.

answers from Omaha on

I'd ask your dr. if there is something like benedryl that you could safely give him. I have a daughter that for a long time she was scared to go on the freeway. I think the feeling they get in their little bodies makes them feel like they are out of control and if their stomaches are going up into their throats that feeling anyway it's probably a scary and unfamiliar feeling .

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R.M.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Has she ever taken him to the doctor to get his ears checked? It could possibly be pressure change. If she is feeding him right before they leave in the car, it could also possibly be some extra gas that he didn't get up before they left.

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K.B.

answers from Provo on

Maybe he's feeling carsick? My little one did and you would only know it if they throw up. Maybe he is even anticipating it and so he gets upset and cries the whole time? She she talk with her pediatrician and see if they think she should try dramamine and what dose.

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C.C.

answers from Pueblo on

HI L.,
I had the same problem with my son and mostly it was he didn't like the feel of his car seat. When he was born we bought a new carrier, we had been using an old one since my 1st was born, and he didn't like the angle it sat at. We put him into the old carrier which reclined back more and he was happier with that. But it also turned out that my son had a hernia that he was born with and sitting up hurt it and we didn't know about it until he became more mobile and then the hernia got bad enough to see. So yeah it may just be how he sits in his seat, your sister might try a full sized seat that can be both rear facing and forward facing. He's going to need one in a few months anyway, can't hurt to try it now. I also like some of the other mom's suggestions to try setting up a travel DVD player so he can watch a movie or try to make trips overnight so he can sleep the whole way. Good luck!

C.

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H.W.

answers from Provo on

My son was the same way. Anything longer than just a few minutes and he'd be screaming, often so hard that he'd make himself throw up. It was awful. He's now 16 months and still does it but it's not as bad. One thing that helped was putting him in a forward-facing car seat, but of course you can't do that till he weighs at least 22 pounds.

Tell your sis-in-law to make sure he's as comfortable as possible. Make sure the sun is out of his eyes, he's not too hot, and he's not hungry (that actually helped us as well - we'd make sure he was hungry and then give him a bottle in the car and that helped tons because he would often then fall asleep).

He may not grow out of it for a long time. Tell her good luck!

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