Seeking Advice on Dealing with Infant That Hates Her Car Seat

Updated on September 11, 2006
L. asks from Saint Paul, MN
17 answers

My 3 month old daughter hates to be in her car seat. She screams the entire time we are in the car. She has been this way since she was a newborn. I keep hoping she'll outgrow it, but so far she has not. It is very stressful to go anywhere with her in the car. Thank goodness I live in St. Paul and can walk many places with her--she loves the Baby Bjorn. Has anyone else dealt with an infant who hates being in the car? Any advice? When did your child outgrow it?

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S.B.

answers from Wausau on

L.,

I have an information handout about this. I can't seem to attach here. Please e-mail me directly and I would be happy to send it to you. [email protected]____.com

A little about me:
I am a certified birth Doula through both DONA and CAPPA, I am the mother of 3 adult childres and the grandmother of 3 granddaughters.

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M.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

My son had the same problem. He would scream and tense up if he saw us even moving towards his carrier. It lasted until he was about 6 months old, then he just stopped fighting it.

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L.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

I had a friend who realized that her daughter was really HOT in her car seat. Make sure she is comfortable (temp. wise) and that the straps aren't too tight.

Good luck!

L.

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M.F.

answers from Minneapolis on

I didnt have this problem with my son but I would try a new toy, something she might already like, but a different variety, or something totally different and special. My son has a turtle that is only for the car, or try a mirror, babies love to look at themselves.
I would also try a Britax car seat. They are very expensive but well worth the money...they have a newer version the declathon, my son loves it.
I hope the advice helps and good luck!

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B.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

My cousins baby was the same way her daughter got motion sickness being backwards in the infant seat. As soon as she turned the carseat around at age 1 forward facing the problem was gone. I know your baby is way to small to do that with but that may be the problem. You could try putting the sunshade on he infant seat over the baby's view and try soft music otherwise I think it's something you'll have to wait for her to outgrow.

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S.H.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi L.,
My son was the same way, and long car rides were monstrous for me. Do you have an infant seat that snaps into a base in your car? If so, does your daughter cry as soon as you put her in the infant seat, or only after she's in the car? We had an infant seat, and my son was fine in it, until we put him in the car. I think he hated not seeing us. When he was a year old, we turned him around (so he faced us) and he was fine. But if your daughter cries as soon as you put her in the seat, maybe the seat itself is uncomfortable.

We played fun music, and that helped a little bit. We mostly listened to Ralph Covert. He's a really great children's musician. The only other things I can suggest are frequent breaks, and as a last resort - ignore the screaming. I know it's hard, but as long as she's healthy and safe, she'll be fine. Good luck!

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D.P.

answers from Milwaukee on

I thought I was the only person with that problem. My daughter Emma hated her infant carrier/ car seat also. I mean it was a nightmare to drive anywhere. At first I was told that it was because she was diagnosed with GERD, a very minor case that she grew out of by 4 months old, but we made the changes to the seat to make her sit more upright and she still screamed. So at 6 months old we finally broke down and bought a Britex roundabout that works for infant rear facing and up to 40 lbs forward facing. It saved my sanity and for the first time since she was born, she slept peacefully in the car. I mean I was able to drive a 7 hour drive on my own with no screaming. Emma is now almost 4 and I also have a soon to be 2 year old son. He now uses Emma's old car seat, and has loved it since about 5 months on. I hope i was able to help.

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S.E.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi L.:

I couldn't help but laugh at your message, what a little stinker! That has to be absolutely nerve racking. Are you a stay at home mom?

Unfortunately, I don't have any real good advice for you. I am the mother of a 6 month old who loves car rides, she usually falls right asleep. She too hates being strapped into the car seat though, and recently makes attempts to push that little button to freedom which is becoming a challenge for me.

I wonder if your little peanut gets motion sickness? I would discuss the situation with your doctor. Does the infant seat adjust/recline? Are the straps uncomfortably tight? Is the sun in her eyes? Just some thoughts, I'm sure you've already considered. Nonetheless good luck, hopefully she will develop a liking for car rides as most babies do. My question - what is a Baby Bjorn? Good Luck!!

S. Haines
Mother of a 7 yr old boy
and a 6mo old baby girl

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L.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

I have a Graco Snugride that I'm not using. If you use another brand and would like to try ours, let me know. It's never been in an accident and is in fine shape. I have the directions.
I wonder, too, if she'd be more comfortable in yours if you adjust the angle ever so slightly. You might want to make an appt with the local police to have the installation checked.
I'm guessing that you've already tried different kinds of toys and music and distraction.
Good luck.

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E.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

My son was also really fussy in his car seat. A friend of mine has a mirror with lights on it that plays music. You can control it with a remote control that you can clip to your visor. That helps her a lot. She got it at Babies R Us.

I was not that lucky. I would reach back and stick my finger in my son's mouth because he wouldn't take a pacifier. Music helped, too. But I have to agree with the others here, I bought a Britax and he hasn't fussed since he's been in it. It's like the lazy boy of car seats.

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L.K.

answers from Minneapolis on

We had a little carseat mobile that attached to the bar of the infant carrier and that seemed to help. You could also try just setting her in the carrier in the house off and on to get her used to it - just for 2 minutes at a time or something. Definitely check the straps too to make sure the padded parts are hitting her neck and not the sharp strap. You could also try one of those JJ Cole liners for the seat. They make a "lite" liner and you could just use the bottom piece. That might make baby more comfy. And definitely try music! I think 99.5 or somewhere in there is classical music in the twin cities.

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D.G.

answers from Chicago on

Hi L.-

I was just forwarded your posting from my friend in Minneapolis who belongs to Mama Source. I'm a member in Chicago. I had just spoken to her that very day about what horrors I was going through with my 4 month old daughter and car rides. I could have wrote your posting! I'm just writing to let you know there are others out there with the same exact problem.

My daughter has been the same way since she was born too. Recently it got so bad that I would stay home all day with her rather than take her anywhere (and as a new mom, you know how much you need to get out of the house). She would scream from the moment I put her in her car seat until I took her back out at our destination. With Chicago traffic this was a nightmare. Last week we were stuck in traffic going to the airport and she screamed for 3 hours! I was nearly in tears in the front seat and had to pull over twice to comfort her. She screamed until she was hoarse.

Strangely enough, it has gotten much better in the past week. I am not sure why but the past week she has not cried once in the car. I've been trying to take her on rides everyday just to get her more familiar with the car and also upgraded to the bigger car seat (from the one that goes with her stroller). I think this was the big help. It's much roomier, more padded and feels less restraining to her.

I'm hoping this continues because I was literally at the end of my rope. Good luck and know you are not alone!

D.

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T.Z.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi L. -

I feel your pain! My oldest, who is now 3, was the exact same way. When he was old enough to like cartoons, we bought a portable DVD player and that helped a lot - especially if you don't let your kids watch TV at home - it's a special treat. Do you think she is uncomfortable in the car seat - some seem very hard and not very comfortable. He really didn't outgrow it until he was about 18 months old, so I hope your daughter grows out of it sooner - maybe once she can face forward she will be better. My in-laws gave us a very hard time because we never came to visit - so on our one-and-only trip to Chicago to visit, we called them every hour to have them listen to him scream. With my youngest son, we bought a fisher-price car seat aquarium thing - that you can put on the back of the seat when they are rear-facing and that entertained him a lot, especially when he figured out he could kick it and make the fish move. Good luck!

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A.G.

answers from Minneapolis on

We have a little mirror that attaches to the head rest in the back seat so that I can see our baby from our rear view mirror, but I've also noticed that she enjoys watching herself. I also have a couple of toys that stay in the car so they are always exciting to see when we go for a drive.

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N.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

Get her checked and adjusted by a chiropractor. Chances are, the position she is in is not comfortable because of a subluxation of the vertebrae (not all, maybe even just one of them), meaning it or they are out of alignment.
Sure, she could just hate her car seat, but wouldn't you feel better if you knew she wasn't uncomfortable?
If you need help finding a pediatric chiropractor, you can check out the ICPA4kids website or www.MyHealthyBeginning.com
Nichi Hirsch

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T.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi L.,

I had the same problem. My son is 10 months old and still doesn't like the car, but at least if I give him a toy he is pretty good now. Some suggestions....My son likes the baby einstein music orchestra.....but even better than that, he really likes piano classical music, or classical music with a piano and violin. Which I find funny, because I never listened to classical when I was pregnant. You could try the classical radio station to see if that helps and then buy a CD if it does. But, I've noticed that my son doesn't really like the classical on the radio, he's not into the horns ect, he just likes the Piano and the Piano with violins. I just turn the classical on when he fusses and turn it up a little and he'll for the most part calm down.

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K.

answers from Minneapolis on

L.,
Both of my girls hated being in a car seat. My three year old hated it until she was two. I don't know what did the trick. We had a baby just before her third birthday, so maybe she was more interested in looking at her sister!? We also bought an Odyssey at that time, so it could be that she liked sitting up higher and being able to see. She certainly comments on everything she can see now. My baby (who just turned one) still hates the car seat and will arch her back and cling to us in order not to be put in the seat. Clearly, we are repeating the same cycle with her. We try to keep her entertained with music, stories, little plastic things that have buttons and make noise, bendable Groovy Girls, books, blankets, and anything that might keep her occupied. Inevitably, she gets bored or angry and starts howling. We believe that it will end, as it did with her sister, sometime between 18-24 months. In the meantime, we all (eldest daughter included) are working hard to keep her entertained!

Best of luck to you!
K.

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