Monday, September 5, 2011

Car Seat Tantrums

Getting my child to remain happy in her car seat is a daily challenge. DAILY, meaning all the time.  Luckily she does not fight getting into her seat, which a lot of her friends do, but after a few minutes heading down the street, I hear the little whining begin.  That's when the pacifier becomes my best friend.  But even that doesn't always work and so running errands becomes not so fun, maybe just 2 at the most. In and out of the car seat is not a fun game for either of us.

AND not to mention the new, strongly encouraged guidelines from the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) for remaining rear facing until 2 years of age:

All infants and toddlers should ride in a Rear-Facing Car Seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat's manufacturer.

Reading the statistics scared me and I am for sure going to keep her rear facing as long as I can, even though it is a pain not to be able to see her:

Children under the age of 2 who are rear facing in car seats are 75% less likely to die or be injured in car accidents. 

But what is a mom to do when your child is screaming as you place them in the seat; screaming as you are just driving around the corner; or crying hysterically while you are on the highway?

-Some ideas I've heard are to purchase a baby car seat to put in next to your child with their favorite stuffed animal or doll, so they can have a traveling companion.  Just check out this adorable cute picture from

-Another thing to keep in mind is looking at the car seat from your child's point of view: It can be a super large scary jail, especially if they are rear facing. So go easy on them, and empathize as you put them in there "Ok sweetie, it's time to get in our big fun chair, I know you don't like being strapped in, but mommy wears a seat belt too, and it's so we stay safe when we are driving."

-Also, obviously bring them some toys to entertain them, a book, a rattle, a teething toy, and a paci as a last resort (if they use them). I also play her favorite songs in the car like her Raffi CD, and Kindermusik songs from her class!  Other good music CDs that calm her down are the Rockabye Lullaby CD's that take classic songs from the Beatles, Coldplay, etc and turn them into little lullabies.  As soon as I turn them on, she quiets down.

-One thing that I know I would LOVE to do to distract her, but have to restrain myself, is giving her food while driving.  It would definitely help entertain a child. Why not you ask? Well, unfortunately, I knew a little girl who died from choking on a piece of food while in her car seat. Sad, sad, sad story, but her mother came to an abrupt stop, which caused the 3 year old to start choking, and by the time the mom stopped the car, and unfastened the tricky belt, it was too late to provide the Heimlich.  I hate even thinking about that story, but hopefully by others hearing it, then it will help save lives :(

-Another trick to getting them in the car seat is reverse psychology: Telling them, "You can't climb into the car seat by yourself, can you?"  And see how fast they will crawl in!

-Tickling them, blowing raspberries and giving them kisses can also relax their tensions and help strap them in better.

-Another tip some moms swear by is making a trip to the local firefighters or police station and having them reinforce your car seat message and telling your children that if they are not in their seats, then the police will pull them over and give them a ticket and then they will have to spend their allowance or 'fun' money on the tickets instead of toys.

And remember that as you strap them in, keeping a smile on your face and looking at the car seat as a positive experience will go a long way.  If your child reads your exasperated expression on your face, then they will also start to dread it and it won't be fun for either of you :)


  1. These are all great suggestions, and I especially love the one about keeping a smile on your face so the child sees you are ok with it. I know it may only work for a split second, but it does reinforce a positive experience. The idea of putting a doll or stuffed animal next to her/him is great too so they don't feel so 'alone' in the back.