What To Do if My Baby Hates the Car Seat? Tips Plus The Do’s & Don’ts for a Comfortable Ride

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baby hates car seat

Some babies love getting into the car seat and going on an adventure, but some babies simply hate being strapped in. Some babies will fall right to sleep, while others will scream the whole way. (And that’s just misery when you’ve got a long car ride!)

This can be incredibly distracting for a parent, since all you want to do is attend to your baby’s needs when they’re crying.

If you’re one of those parents who is constantly wondering, “my baby hates the car seat, what do I do?” don’t get discouraged. We have some tips and tricks for how to get baby to like the car seat, as well as how to ensure that you’re buying a good car seat that will be comfy for your baby.

Why Are Car Seats Important?

If your baby constantly fights being put in the car seat you may start wondering if it’s even worth it. Hard as it may be, it’s worth it to put your baby in a car seat. Car seats can reduce the risk of accident-related deaths by at least 54% and serious injuries by 67%.

Babies’ bodies aren’t as durable as adult bodies, since a lot of a baby’s skeleton is made up of soft cartilage, and the organs are not protected. Babies are much more vulnerable to injury. If you get into an accident and your baby is not in a car seat it’s easier for their small bodies to go flying, even in minor accidents, and injury can result in damage to the brain and spinal cord.

Even if your baby hates being in a car seat for any length of time, it is still necessary for them to ride in one. Source: mom.com

How To Choose A Baby Car Seat

When it comes to choosing a car seat for your baby there are several things to consider to ensure that your car seat is safe and comfortable.

Age, weight, and height

There are three kinds of car seats, and which one you use depends on your baby’s age, weight, and height. You can get an infant car seat for babies newborn up to a year old, a convertible car seat that can start with your newborn and grow with your baby, and a booster seat for children at least four years old.

Age indication of suitable car seat for baby | Babyjourney
Choose the correct car seat for your child’s age and weight. Source: City of Owasso

Safety features

Safety features are very important when it comes to choosing a car seat, be it for your newborn to toddler. Make sure the car seat has a five-point harness that’s easily adjustable and side-impact protection. Check the brand and model to make sure there are no recalls.

Brand

Go with a brand that is well-known for safety and reliability. Some of those brands include Graco, Chicco, Evenflo, and Clek. It’s better to buy a new car seat than a used one, but if you’re going the used route make sure you check with the seller to ensure that the car seat hasn’t been damaged at all.

Some great car seat brands available in the market.

Why Do Some Babies Hate Car Seats?

If your baby screams in the car seat there’s usually a reason, though it’s not any one answer. There are a variety of things that can cause your baby discomfort in their car seat. Look for any of these signs, and if one of them is the problem try to fix it and see if that helps.

Is the car seat fitted correctly?

Check to see if your rear-facing car seat is fitted correctly into the base, and that it’s at a 30- to 45-degree angle. Sometimes your baby suffers from acid reflux, and positioning the carseat in a more upright position helps with that. You can also read our simple guide on how to install a car seat properly.

Is the strap too tight?

If the safety harness straps are too tight it can cause your baby discomfort. You don’t want the straps to be too loose, but make sure they’re not pulling or digging into your baby.

How a five-point safety harness keeps your child safe | Maxi-Cosi
Make sure the safety harness isn’t too loose nor too tight for your child. Source: Maxi-Cosi

Travel sickness?

Sometimes travel sickness is a problem for your baby, just like it is for older people. This is harder to pinpoint in an infant, as they can’t tell you that’s what they’re feeling. When a baby is in a moving vehicle, but is looking at something stationary it can cause a sensory mismatch in baby’s brain which results in nausea.

If you suspect motion sickness try giving your baby something moving to focus on. If baby can’t see out of the window, use a mobile. You can also use mandarin or peppermint essential oil to help with the nausea, though it’s not advisable to use essential oils on babies less than 3 months old.

Is the car too hot?

Babies can’t regulate their body temperature, so it’s important to make sure your baby is comfy. Check on your baby often to make sure he or she is not overheating in the car seat. Dress your baby in a few thin layers so you can remove any if needed.

Does baby feel alone?

Babies like to have human contact, and when they are all alone in a back seat it can cause distress. If your older baby or even newborn hates the car seat this could be why. If you don’t have someone who can sit with your baby, place a mirror where you and baby can see each other.

What To Do When Baby Hates The Car Seat

  • Check for any points of discomfort and do your best to eliminate them.
  • Try changing the angle of your baby’s car seat.
  • Add a little extra padding under your baby with a soft snuggler if you think the car seat is too hard.
  • Hang up a mirror so you and your baby can see each other.
  • Use calming essential oils in the car. You can purchase a car diffuser, or simply put a few drops on a piece of cloth near your baby.
  • Play your baby’s favorite songs.
  • Give your baby their favorite toys, or hang up a mobile.
  • Give your baby time to get used to their car seat. Bring it in the house and let your baby lie and play in it.
  • Tell your baby that you’re putting them in the car seat as you’re doing it and explaining that they’ll be safe. Babies understand a lot more than we give them credit for!

How To Make Car Seats More Comfortable: The Do’s & Don’ts

Do:Don’t:
1. Check straps for comfort
2. Check for anything that can cause your baby discomfort, such as the sun in their eyes, uncomfortable temperature, uncomfortable clothing
3. Play music or videos to distract your baby
4. Use a mirror or a mobile
5. Check the angle of your baby’s car seat to help with acid reflux
1. Turn a rear-facing car seat around
2. Place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat if the airbags are enabled
3. Dress your baby in bulky clothing
4. Get distracted too much by your baby! Remember you are driving a piece of heavy equipment!

FAQs For A Happy Ride With Your Baby

Do reflux babies hate cars and car seats?

If a baby often suffers from acid reflux, being in a car seat can be very uncomfortable and the slightly inclined position exacerbates the condition. If your baby suffers from acid reflux try to position their car seat so their head is higher than their feet.

Can babies go on long car rides?

Follow the 2-hour rule for long car rides. If you need to take your baby on a long car ride, make sure to break it up into two-hour portions.

Most manufacturers say that you shouldn’t put your baby in a car seat for more than two hours as it can put strain on baby’s developing spine, and restrict air-flow to your baby’s lungs.

How often should you stop on a road trip with a baby?

Following the 2-hour rule, stop at least every two hours when you’re on a road trip with your baby.

How do I keep my baby happy on a long car ride?

Traveling with a newborn by car can be very stressful, but if you check for anything that can be causing discomfort and give your baby enough distractions it should become easier.

Use car seat mirror to keep in contact with baby | Babyjourney
Use a car seat mirror to keep in contact with your baby during a car trip as a way to minimize discomforts. Source: GOSO Direct

Conclusion

Some babies will happily ride in the car for hours, but some babies will put up a fight, which makes any car trip, no matter how long, a nightmare for parents. If your baby is one of those babies who screams in the car seat, don’t give up right away.

With a little detective work and a few small changes, you can figure out what makes your baby hate his or her car seat and make car trips a more positive experience for everyone involved.

There are a few common things that make babies hate car seats, and many of them are easily solved. You can use a car seat mirror or mobile to keep your baby entertained, or add some extra padding with a soft snuggler.

Even if these solutions don’t help, just remember to stay calm and collected as best you can. Remember that your voice and emotions can affect your baby and increase their anxiety. It always hurts to hear your baby cry, but just remember that it won’t last forever!

We hope you find this little guide on resolving baby hates car seat situation useful. Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions, comments, or concerns!

baby hates car seat

The Author

Schianne

Hi, my name is Schianne, wife to my high school sweetheart and mother of a beautiful and clever little girl. Click here to learn more about us.

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