Babies and little kids aren’t necessarily the most patient bunch in the world. They usually resort to crying whenever they get impatient from trying to get the things that they want. While this can happen at any time, one of the worst places where it can occur is during a car ride. There’s something about having a kid cry in the enclosed space of a car that could just grind the gears of any parent. We have some tips and tricks you can use to prevent your child from crying in his or her car seat.
Choose the Right Car Seat
The first thing you can do to prevent car seat crying is modify the seat your child uses. Or better yet, take the time to choose one that suits his or her needs the best. While a good car seat may seem expensive, it will prove to be a good investment over time. There are child car seats that face forward, while some face the back of the car. Some require a special installation process, while some can just be strapped on to an existing seat. Finding the right combination of these factors can lead to a more comfortable car ride for you and your baby.
If you have a younger child – under two years of age – it would be better to get a rear-facing car seat. This type of seat provides additional protection for your little one, since it’s designed to better distribute the force of a crash. Much younger children don’t have enough strength to withstand this if they were facing the front of the vehicle. If your child is older, then he or she can use a front-facing one. Remember, don’t rush your child into “graduating” to a front-facing car seat. Their safety is of the utmost priority.
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Try to get a car seat that has “wings” on the side. Aside from providing extra protection, these also provide comfort and support if your child decides to rest his or her head. If you can, get a car seat with easy to remove padding and cushions for easy cleaning and deodorizing. Get a car seat whose seatbelts have padding so they won’t hurt your child if ever you need to tighten them. Some kids just despise the feeling that they’re being held down against their will. Car seats these days are also easy to modify. They have different recline settings from sitting straight up to lying down. This will help make your baby comfortable, especially on longer trips.
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Provide Healthy Distractions
The next thing you can do to reduce the occurrence of car seat crying is to provide distractors. These distractors could come in the form of your child’s favorite toys, or if they are older, their favorite books. You can also try distracting your crying child with a bit of music and singing. Just make sure that you resort to “screen time” – using smartphones and tablets – as little as possible. Too much of this can impede a younger child’s speech and social skills. Another good distractor is a small plastic mirror. Most children get awestruck whenever they see their reflections in the mirror.
Be careful when you’re the one providing the distractions to your kid as you’re driving. One wrong move could lead to an accident. You’ll end up paying a sizeable amount for damages and someone might even get hurt. If you can, have someone with you to help manage your child’s crying. They can play with your child as you drive, or you can have them drive the car while you keep your little one company. Having more people in your car can also help teach your child appropriate social skills. You could also try hanging toys above your child, if the car seat allows it. This provides a hands-free approach to keeping your child quiet in the car.
Be sure to have variety in what you present to your child. It is important to plan ahead for this, especially on long road trips. The same toy can get boring and repetitive. If you keep giving them the same thing over and over again, they will eventually throw a tantrum upon just hearing or seeing it. If your baby likes a particular song, but has been listening to it far too much, try playing something in the same genre or by the same artist. Older kids may even appreciate listening to something completely different compared to what they’re used to. You can also give them different books and toys to prevent either tantrums or rigid behaviors from surfacing.
Keep Calm and Carry On
One more thing you can do to prevent your child from crying in his or her car seat is to try your absolute best to stay calm. Every parent knows how tough this is, but if you try your best to be calm, your child will do so as well. This works the same the other way around as well – if you get stressed out, your little ones will also get stressed out. Same with providing distractions, you could also try to enlist the help of another person in trying to settle an unruly child down. Also, try your best to drive as slow as the law in a particular area allows you to.
In the event that this happened despite your best efforts to be calm; however, try using gentle reassurance. Use kind words in a soft, soothing voice. You could also try giving children positive reinforcement every time they try to calm themselves down. This could be in the form of kind words or in material objects such as toys. Avoid giving your child candies and chocolates as reinforcement. This may cause them to be hyperactive, which could prove difficult for any driver. You could give snacks, but consider their nutritional value.
If a verbal way of calming your child down doesn’t work, try a more visual approach. Many parents have found that putting a photo of themselves where the child faces is an effective way of getting them to calm down. Just make sure that the picture you put is a happy one – maybe one where you’re smiling or laughing. You could also include your kid in the picture. An angry picture may only serve to scare or stress your child out even more. Also, try to make sure that the picture you use is big. Use an A4-size piece of paper if you can. If you do this, you can be sure that your child won’t miss it no matter which way they move their precious little head.
Ensure Maximum Comfort
Keep your child as comfortable as possible. This is as important on a five-minute trip to the store as it is on a six-hour drive to another state. We’ve already touched a bit on this topic a while ago when we were discussing how to choose a car seat for your child. However, it is so important that it deserves its own section. Keep an assortment of pillows and blankets in the backseat so your child can sleep comfortably on longer trips. You can also bring their favorite stuffed toy as well if they happen to have one.
It would also be a good idea to plan for different temperatures. You could crank up the heater in your car if it gets cold, but you can’t really control the the climate of the great outdoors. In the same vein, you could turn the air conditioning all the way up, but the heat of the sun can still blare through the windows, especially if they are left without a tint. Bring items for both hot and cold conditions on any trip involving a child. It is also important to remember that if it’s cold and you’re planning to turn the temperature up a bit that you should make sure your baby gets enough air to breathe.
Time it to Perfection
Like with many things in life, timing your trip is also very important. It would be good to plan your trip to coincide with your child’s nap time. Even better, you can get your drive over and done with early in the morning, so that your child will be fast asleep the entire time. Driving in the wee hours of the morning also ensures that there will not be much traffic, which means you’ll get to your destination faster. You’ll also have the rest of the day to enjoy with your family and friends.
You should also try to plan your trip according to your baby’s feeding schedule. A number of moms swear by feeding children right before a trip. After feeding, they recommend burping the child and rocking him a little until he dozes off. This is an opportune time to put them in their seat. Giving your child a bottle of milk right before leaving ensures they won’t get hungry. A full stomach also triggers their desire to sleep. Just be sure to bring extra diapers in case an “accident” – not one of the vehicular variety – happens.
So now you know how to keep your child calm even on long trips. If you follow this advice closely, the trip may end up being just as fun as the destination. Plus, if you don’t get stressed out in the car, both you and your little look one will look awesome in your vacation photos.