Safe in the Seat

Why Kids Hate the Car Seat

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’re probably a car seat science pro — you know the why and how when it comes to proper car seat installation and harnessing. But, at the end of the day, does that matter if your kiddo doesn’t even like the car seat? (Yes, but it makes a hard thing that much harder.) Trust me, I had a screamer too. Plus, when your little is screaming every time you’re in the car, you can get distracted; and distracted driving took the lives of over 3,000 drivers in the U.S. in 2017

Here’s the main reason your kiddo likely isn’t a fan of the car seat: 

Not buckled in properly and/or car seat is installed incorrectly, causing discomfort

That’s right, you may know the basics of car seat science but still make common mistakes — and you’re not alone! To make sure your little one is safe (and comfortable) in their seat, schedule a consult with me or find a certified car seat safety technician near you

Wondering what else it might be? Here are a few other potential reasons:   

  • Separation anxiety. Being in a car seat “alone” (as opposed to mama or papa’s arms) makes no sense to an infant or a growing toddler.
  • Too hot or too cold. Already regulated the vehicle temp to avoid extreme weather outside the car? What’s comfortable for you may not be comfortable for them.
  • Vision issues/wants to move and see the world. Babies are curious — and seeing almost everything for the first time! Before they go forward-facing, littles who can’t see get FOMO pretty hard.
  • Baby got gas/tummy/acid reflux issues. If your little gets extra gassy, a tight space may not be the place for them after big meals.
  • Not a fan of being constrained/restrained. Is your babe a roaming, free bird? The car seat may not be a fun alternative to running around the house, park, etc.

Work with your pediatrician to nail down the cause of your baby’s displeasure, and please do visit a car seat safety technician to make sure every other aspect of the vehicle seat fit and the harnessing is on point. Remember: Rear-facing for as long as possible is still best (and will not change anytime soon), so don’t let crying be a reason to go forward-facing. One other thing to consider — if your unhappy little one is in an infant car seat, try switching to a convertible car seat (a seat that rear- and forward-faces). 

In addition to the reasons listed above (and with all the love in my heart), I most commonly see parents project their own feelings on how their kiddo must feel in the car seat. “I’d be uncomfortable if I were sitting like that too.” Parents think they must do something, add something or change something to fix that “discomfort.” But, good news: It could just be that baby is crying, and we have to choose safety over that heart-wrenching sound.