Every child is unique, and their reactions to new experiences can be equally distinctive. While many youngsters find immediate comfort in their car seats, others might require a bit more patience and understanding. It’s essential to remember that if a child feels uneasy or uncomfortable, there’s usually a reason behind it. Delving deeper into these reasons can help tailor a more comfortable experience for them during rides. Recognizing and addressing these concerns not only ensures a child’s comfort but also enhances their safety. In the following sections, we’ll explore some of the common reasons children might feel uneasy in their car seats and offer solutions to foster a more positive and secure journey for everyone. If you have a toddler who hates the car seat, check out this post.
What To Do If Baby Hates Car Seat
Problem #1: Discomfort
If your child has just recently decided they hate the car seat, it’s probably not random! Young babies and toddlers grow so quickly, that the straps may not be fitting correctly anymore. Double-check everything and make sure it’s fastened and adjusted properly.
Remember, you shouldn’t be able to pinch any slack near the child’s shoulders. For rear-facing babies, the harness straps need to be just below the shoulders. The harness straps should not be twisted. And, double check your owner’s manual regarding infant padding, the baby may have reached the limit already.
If you’ve checked that all over, and you have an infant who’s still struggling, we have some more ideas below. And, if you have toddlers who are still uncomfortable and even unbuckling their seats as a result, check the other potential problems in this post and find chest clip unbuckling solutions in this post.
Problem #2: Too Hot or Too Cold
Another reason kids hate the car seat is temperature control. Even if you’re pretty comfortable in the front seat, the back seat could provide a much colder or warmer environment for your child depending on the situation.
For example, on hot days, they’re surrounded by padding and dark-colored harness straps that retain a lot of heat, making the car seat much hotter than your front seat. If you don’t have vents in the back seat, you can try pointing the front vents up at the ceiling to get the air into the back or you can try out one of our favorite tools, the Noggle, which will work for cold weather as well!
You can also use the car’s climate control to pre-heat or pre-cool the car before your child gets in the seat. Find more tips on keeping kids warm in their car seats and keeping kids cool in their car seats on the blog.
Problem #3: Boredom
Your child could also just be bored. At certain ages, sitting in the seat is kind of boring. Especially for the older babies who are working on new skills like crawling or walking! If you’ve never given your child toys in the car seat, try grabbing a few of our favorite car seat-safe toys. Keep these toys in the vehicle only, making car rides a special opportunity to play with these special toys.
If toys aren’t interesting to them, you can also try singing nursery rhymes and telling stories. Or, task an older sibling with keeping your younger child entertained with silly faces and interactive play. Here’s more on how to keep toddlers entertained in the car.
Problem #4: Trips are Too Long
Everyone has their limit of how long they want to spend in a car—even a happy rider. It gets uncomfortable after a while!
A good rule of thumb is to take breaks every 2-3 hours to get the blood flowing and burn a little energy. If they’re getting antsy before you hit 2-3 hours, try toys, games, and other activities to keep them occupied. You can find our list of family road trip essentials here.
Problem #5: Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety could be another reason your child hates the car seat. This is especially common in infants and toddlers. A car seat-safe mirror may help them stay calm during the drive, but having an adult or older sibling sit next to them may be the best option to keep them happy.
Problem #6: Car Sickness
Motion sickness is most common in children between 2-12. If your child struggles with motion sickness, no one enjoys the car ride! Your baby may hate the car seat because of its association with motion sickness, so try these car sickness tips to make your driving more pleasant. Extra airflow, car sickness glasses, and changing the car seat placement are just a few ways you can help get rid of car sickness. Shop the list here.
What Not To Do If Baby Hates the Car Seat
Don’t turn them forward-facing too early.
Car sickness, discomfort, or separation anxiety are not reasons to turn your child’s car seat around early. You’d be putting your baby at much greater risk of serious injury or death in a crash. Here’s more on rear-facing vs. forward-facing positioning.
Don’t invest in aftermarket car seat devices.
Car seat manufacturers do not consider aftermarket car seat devices safe and do not approve them. Car seat covers, head “support” straps, tray tables, and other aftermarket products should not be considered.
Don’t reach right for the bottle or snack cup.
Though we don’t strictly say no eating while in the car seat . . . it’s not advised, and we definitely don’t advise babies eating in the car. There is a huge risk of choking. Read this post to understand the risks of eating the car.
Don’t entertain them with a tablet. (Not for the reason you might think.)
No, we’re not criticizing your screen time choices. Tablets can become projectile risks in a crash because of their weight and size. Use car seat-safe toys instead.
Don’t improperly buckle them or unbuckle them.
No matter how uncomfortable or irritated your child is, never compromise safety by loosening their straps too much or unbuckling them. And, if they’re unbuckling themselves, use these tips to keep them strapped in tight despite their protesting.
Determine the reason your baby hates the car seat to find a solution!
Car seats are essential. Whether our child dislikes or likes their seat, they have to be in it. To help make riding more pleasant and comfortable, try these car seat hatred solutions! We hope you find the source of your problem and can keep everyone content and safe. For more tips on car seat safety, visit the Safe in the Seat blog. We have tons of resources for every car seat situation!
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