Elijah has never loved his car seat, and from maybe 4-5 months or so he has hated it. He screams his head off whenever we go somewhere in the car pretty much the whole car ride. We keep thinking he will out grow it and though it is getting better, it’s still a struggle going places. We’ve checked, double checked, and triple checked that we have him in there right, nothing is poking him, and he’s healthy as can be. He just hates the thing! This has been SO hard for us because we are not homebodies. We like to get out and go places and do things, and Elijah likes to too, he just hates the process of getting there. Through our struggles and determination to still get out of the house we have come up with a few things that seem to help with the car seat melt down.
Special toys – Have a toy that they only get in the car and that they love. It doesn’t always work for the whole trip, but it at least provides a few minutes of happiness to play with toys that he loves and doesn’t see all day long. Elijah also had an issue with us buckling him for a while where he would scream and arch his back and roll making it almost impossible to get him buckled safely. We somehow gave him a soft tape measurer one time (not sure why this..), and it calmed him down and kept him interested while I buckled him in. Once he was buckled I traded him for one of his other car toys since I didn’t feel comfortable with him playing with a tape measure by himself.
Music – I don’t know if this is just Elijah but it always seems like there is one or two songs he loves and that either make him dance or when he was younger, put him into almost a trance. “You Look Good” by Lady Antebellum was the first song, and now it’s that plus “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction and the Baby Shark song (found by our amazing nanny!). Find your baby’s song, purchase it and put it on repeat. I think I’ll still be singing You Look Good when I’m 80 it’s that drilled into my head.
Snacks – This has been the life saver for us lately. If we can give him a snack cup with some Goldfish, puffs, or Cheerios and his water cup he’s usually a happy boy. Only do this one though once they are old enough to really manage snacks well, and always keep a ear back there to make sure they are doing okay with them.
Sit back there with them if you can – If he seems particularly unhappy about getting in the car and Daniel and I are going somewhere together I will just sit in the back with him. That way I can entertain him with toys, reading books, or just talking to him. We use this time to go over animal noises and body parts a lot of the time which is also a great distraction for being in the car and also another tool to utilize if you are sitting in the front seat. You can talk about noises and body parts or whatever things they are learning to distract from the fact they are in the car seat.
If all else fails and especially if you are driving by yourself, put the radio in the front speakers only, turn it up a little, take a deep breath, and focus on driving. Take an extra minute making sure they are buckled correctly, (good resource here, or here to find a certified expert to help) and know that they are unhappy, but safe. You need to first and foremost focus on driving safely and know that when you get to your destination you can provide all the extra snuggles and kisses to let them know they are loved!