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  Car Seat: Keeping baby happy
 

My baby doesn’t travel well.  How can I make him happier?  My friends have babies that go to sleep in the car...

You just have to accept that some babies find going in the car soothing and restful, while some babies really find it difficult to cope with. This behaviour is not unusual, and is not likely to improve as your baby grows and becomes more active. The restraint of car travel is even more difficult for an active toddler to cope with than a small baby. For this reason you need to concentrate now on making car travel a happy experience for your baby, as this will pay off dividends later!

Start by having a good look at your seat and make sure there is no obvious reason for the baby to be uncomfortable in it. Check for lumps and bumps. Next time you strap him in, check the straps on the car seat. They should be loose enough for you to get two fingers between. If they are too tight then he really is going to complain. However, if they are too loose, then a small baby can slide down in the car seat and end up crumpled at the bottom – neither comfortable nor safe! If your baby is still very small, then make sure that you use the inserts that keep the baby snug in the car seat and stop his head from flopping. Make sure that you monitor when he is big and strong enough for you to stop using the inserts.

The other factors that can really affect a small baby are having the sun directly on him, or being the wrong temperature. It can be hard to gauge the temperature in the back of the car, and may be worth having an adult travel in the back periodically to check that the baby is not getting cold or over heated. Also check that air vents do not blow directly on the baby, which can be very uncomfortable.

  • A mirror positioned so that baby can easily see you can make a big difference.
  • Chat to your baby as you drive.
  • Make a game of the trip.
  • Play special music – you can choose between trying quiet relaxing music or a fun cd of baby songs.
  • You are going to have to try all the tricks in your repertoire until you find an activity that your baby enjoys in the car.

  • Maybe you can find a favourite toy and make it a dedicated car toy.  Make sure that the toy is strapped to the car seat to avoid the trauma of dropping the toy.
  • Whenever you have another person in the car with you, they should travel in the back and have fun with the baby in his seat.
  • Another idea to try is to strap the baby into his seat, but in the house and not in the car. Then sit with him and do a fun activity and be very attentive and appreciative of his company. This is a way to change his negative connections to his car seat.
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