“How can I stop my baby crying in the car every time we leave the house?”

Posted in Newborn.

Perhaps you’ve been here? A gorgeous but very vocal little person screaming their lungs out every time you hit the road? It’s upsetting for everyone and sadly a very common problem.

Roadtrip blues

One rattled mum got in touch to get to the bottom of this upsetting situation. She asked mothercraft nurse Chris Minogue how she can settle her baby down and make car rides less stressful.

“My nearly six-month-old hates the car,” the worried mum told Chris. “I’ve tried everything and any car ride over five minutes leads to horrible screaming fits which causes me to be concerned about his welfare.”

“I worry he’ll choke or pass out. Please give me some advice … It’s so isolating. I feel I can’t go anywhere. I have tried ensuring the seatbelt isn’t too tight, a mirror, window down, shades, toys and someone in the back.”

Listen to Chris Minogue on Feed Play Love  

First things first

Chris started at the beginning, with a query about how the baby is restrained because she says some older babies find travelling in their capsule uncomfortable.

“Often at six months, if they’re still in the capsule they might be too hot, especially with the weather of late,” she explains.

“We’re generally putting them in the car when they’re tired,” Chris points out. “We’ve been out, we’ve been to mothers’ group, we’ve done a few things.”

“Then we’re popping the baby in the car when they’re tired and we’re getting them home to give them a feed and put them to bed. They’re just too tired to cope.”

Comfort AND safety

Sometimes it’s the elements that are to blame for a restless bub.

“The sun often hits from the back window and from the side window and they get really irritated about that,” Chris says.

Comfort is also a factor when it comes to being strapped in, so triple check that everything is comfortable, but also safe.

Chris notes this is a problem parents are struggling with more and more and thinks that lifestyle changes have prompted it. 

“I think it’s because they get put in the car a lot more than they were 10 or 15 years ago,” Chris explains. “They’re constantly in and out with straps constantly pushing back on the shoulders.” 

These transitions and the constant restraint takes a toll on some babies. 

Baby steps

If all else fails, Chris has another strategy – a type of graded exposure – which helps some babies re-acclimatise to car trips.

“This is not easy,” she admits. “For a couple of days, don’t put him in the car seat. Then put him in the car seat and go a really short distance.

“I would do this on the weekend and maybe have your partner sit in the back, or you sit in the back, but you’re only going to go a really short distance – like ten minutes – so that he’s having a couple of really positive experiences in the car. Then just increase that time in the car.”

If you’re struggling through car trips with a baby on board, we hope these ideas help.


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