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Your Baby Hates The Car Seat: 10 Tips To Help

Newborn babies don’t usually mind the car seat. They snuggle right into their seat and fall peacefully back asleep. As babies get older, they want to move around.

They’re learning to crawl, scoot, and move their bodies in new ways. Being restrained in a car seat doesn’t fit into what their little plans are for the day. 

Sometimes, your little one might just seem to hate their car seat. As soon as they’re strapped in, you can hear their wails of frustration.

Some babies calm down in the car, but some don’t. Instead, they cry until they are unstrapped. This can not only be a dangerous distraction while driving, it’s important to make sure that there’s nothing wrong with your little one. 

These ten tips will help you finally find the solution to why your little one screams when they are in their car seat. 

1. If Your Baby Suddenly Hates The Car Seat, Check The Straps

If your little one used to love car rides and has suddenly started screaming when you buckle them in, it’s time to check the straps.

A couple of pounds can easily make the straps on the car seat too tight, leading to discomfort and consistent crying. If your little one is dressed in thicker clothing, this can also make the straps too tight. 

To check the straps, buckle your baby in their car seat. Then, slide your fingers in between your baby and the straps. You should be able to fit one finger width in between the baby and the strap.

If you can’t, there’s a chance that the straps are too tight. Adjust them to provide a little bit more room, and then try again. 

Dress Babies In The Bare Minimum

Before leaving the hospital with the grandbaby, the nurse instructed us to dress him in the bare minimum when putting him in the car seat.

It can be tempting to bundle babies in snowsuits or winter jackets during cold weather. However, this can lead to them slipping out of bulky clothing, and then the car seat.

Instead, it was recommended that we dress him in something thinner and use blankets or car seat covers to protect him from the elements. 

2. Pay Attention To Their Clothing

baby bundled for winter

If you do choose to bundle your little one up, it’s still important to pay attention to what they’re wearing. Babies can get overheated easier than we think they can.

Car-seats fit snugly around babies so they can already feel warm. If they’re also wearing thick winter clothing and a hat, they could simply be hot. 

Signs that your baby is hot include: 

  • Red skin
  • Fussiness
  • Sweating
  • Flushed body
  • Higher temperature

To do a quick check, feel your baby’s hands or head. If they are sweating, they are too hot. 

3. Baby Hates The Carseat Because They Are Bored

A baby can get bored in a matter of minutes. Sometimes, looking out the window just doesn’t cut it. If your little one likes lights or music, consider picking up some toys that attach to their car seat to keep them occupied.

These are wonderful for babies that can reach and grab things!

4. Babies With Acid Reflux And Gas Might Be Uncomfortable

When a little one has stomach pain, certain positions can help. A car seat that restricts their ability to move can leave them in an uncomfortable position. 

Try to schedule car trips around their eating and gas schedule, if possible. Babies with acid reflux should be left in an upright position for at least thirty minutes after eating.

Laying back in a car seat can hurt their stomach. Instead, feed them, give them at least thirty minutes of sitting up, and then prepare to leave. 

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to schedule things around when your little one will have gas.

Instead, it can be easier to pick up some gas relief drops for those unavoidable trips. These can usually help at least minimize the discomfort that your baby is going through.

5. Consider Soothing Ideas Like Music If Your Baby Hates The Car

Some babies might simply not like the car or their car seat. Car seats limit how much they can play.

Car rides might be full of motions. They don’t prefer or sights and sounds they would rather do without. Babies that get overstimulated easily might find car rides to be a bit much for them. 

Consider soothing things that you can do with your little one while they are in the car. Singing a song can help.

If you find it distracting to sing while driving, consider picking up a toy that will let you record your voice or recording hours of yourself singing on your phone. The sound of a mother’s voice is often soothing. 

6. Baby Hates Car Seat Due To A Negative Association

If your little one develops a negative association with their car seat, it can quickly lead to them hating their car seat. They might have accidentally been dropped in their seat, been in a car accident, or had another negative incident.

Regardless of the incident, it’s important to help your little one develop a positive association with their car seat to make car rides bearable for both you and them. 

To do this, put your baby in their car seat. You can do this in the car, or simply put them in their seat at home. Then, sing to your little one while they are in the seat.

Play with them and rock them. If something, in particular, makes your baby smile, such as tickling them, make sure to include that as well. 

7. Give Them Someone To Sit With


Babies can benefit from having someone sitting next to them in the car in multiple ways. First, it gives them some company. Babies can get lonely!

Babies that don’t have object permanence yet might think that you’re gone and that they are all alone because they can’t see.  Having someone else in the car also provides an additional soothing opportunity so that you can focus on driving.

The person sitting next to the baby can sing songs, play with toys and let you know if something, in particular, seems to be bothering them. 

When picking a person to sit next to them, keep in mind the age of that person and what you will need. A seven-year-old sibling can play with them and sing to them, but they might get frustrated easily.

Older children might be able to help without getting as frustrated. Last, there are your friends. They probably have more experience with babies, too!

8. Practice Deep Breathing To Make Sure You Stay Calm

Listening to baby cry tears of frustration can instantly rattle your nerves. The longer they cry, sometimes the more frustrated you get.

Being stuck in a car means that you can’t walk away to take a deep breath. Instead, practice deep breathing exercises that you can do in the car to keep your nerves calm. 

When parents are stressed, babies are stressed too. They seem to have a sixth sense that lets them pick up on how their parents and other adults are feeling.

If you’re upset or fighting back tears, it can make your baby feel more stressed. Instead, try to help keep your little one calmer by calming yourself. 

9. Take Some Breaks During Long Trips

Little ones can get fussier on longer trips. If you plan on taking a long trip, include a few rest stops along the route. Make sure to stop to take your baby out of the car seat for cuddles, feeding, or to simply give them a chance to move around.

Keep in mind that this tip only works part of the time. Some babies easily start crying again as soon as they are back in their car seats. 

10. Pick Up A Baby Mirror For The Backseat

A baby mirror straps to the backseat of the car so that you can see your baby, and your baby can see you. Babies that get scared sitting in the backseat by themselves will be able to see you in the mirror.

This alone can be comforting. Most little ones love mirrors, so this could be enough to keep them occupied and happy!

If the mirror doesn’t help your baby start smiling again, it can at least help you figure out why they are crying! If your baby has a car seat toy that they can’t reach, you’ll be able to see them struggling to reach the toy in the mirror.

You’ll also be able to see them squirming if they’re uncomfortable. Or fighting their sleep if car rides make them tired. 

In Conclusion

If your baby hates their car seat, check the seat first. Make sure that the straps fit properly. Then, make sure that your baby is comfortable and wearing clothing that is not too hot or too cold.

Last, check out what’s going on during the car ride itself. One of these ten solutions is bound to finally give you tear-free car rides!