My eldest son hated the car. This was not particularly helpful when we needed to drive in the car with him for 40 minutes minimum every single day. To this day the thought of getting in the car with him when he was a newborn fills me with dread. The gut wrenching screams from the back of the car. My anxiety levels rising with every minute of being trapped in there with him. The stress of repeating “its alright we’re almost there” even through we were no where close. The inability to do anything because I was stuck in traffic and couldn’t reach him to comfort him. The choice to turn up the music and try to ignore the cries so that I could focus on driving safely. It was the definition of hell!
Even now two years late we can have ‘hell-rides’ as I like to call them. The exception is that this time they’re caused by my son dropping a toy or book, and the crying is just his frustration that I can’t just magically pick them up whilst driving and give them back to him. To date my second son likes the car but only when it’s moving and he generally falls asleep which causes other problems but let’s not go there right now.
So here’s a list of things that have helped reduce our hell-rides that work… most of the time:
Check the car seat: Our sons first car seat was a capsule with a suede like lining. We think it made him too hot and uncomfortable. We replaced it with a Britax Safe N Sound Graphene Convertible which has bamboo fabric that keeps him cool. The change was instant, the crying stopped!
Check the car seat straps: I find when you pull the car seat straps tight they really dig into the shoulders. After pulling tight I pull on the leg straps which always gives a bit, then I move that give up to the shoulder area and pull tight again. This creates a more even firmness across the hold harness. My boys are more comfortable and more secure this way.
Time your car rides: For newborns make sure they’re fed, have clean nappies, and if you can do some tummy time beforehand so that they’re worn out and more likely to sleep. For toddlers tell them the night before that you’re going in the car the next day and where they’re going. This helps the next day because they’re prepared. When I had regular car rides to work I used to put my eldest straight in the car when he woke up pyjamas and all. That way he was still sleepy, then I’d dress and feed him at my mums house. This way we weren’t rushing activities at home or interrupting his play. Now days I’m at home so car rides are more casual. I always make sure he’s got a clean nappy and we pick a book or toy to take in the car with us.
Music: My toddler loves music in the car and has become quite picky! He now tells me when he doesn’t like a song, or when he wants to hear one on repeat. I got a much needed reminder this week when he commented the music was too loud. It wasn’t louder than usual but he found it too much. Remember you have little ears in the car, so maybe try changing the volume levels and see if it helps. Also try changing up the playlist and see if different styles make them more comfortable.
Avoid rewards in the car: Whether its food or technology try to avoid things in the car that you’re not willing to give them every single car ride. This may be hard because you want a quick fix but I promise its worth a few hell-rides sticking to a safe car routine then dealing with tantrums because they want rewards every time you need to go somewhere.
Good luck mumma, the crying in the car will pass!
Mumma Z xxx