How to travel with a crying baby
When your child is young, a road trip up or down the coast is usually the quickest and easiest holiday to organise – however, safety is always your first priority, especially when it comes to your baby. Once bub learns to walk, they love being on the move, and hate being restrained. The majority of babies cry once they are strapped into their car seat. It becomes very difficult to control them and concentrate on driving.
Besides point a of safety, it’s a legal requirement to have your child in some form of car seat until the age of seven – depending on the state you’re in. It’s a great point of concern for new parents to help their young children understand the reason for keeping them harnessed – who simply don’t feel comfortable sitting restrained in a car seat, and are not afraid to let you know. Try using some of the following strategies to deal with your crying baby while travelling in the car.
Prepare your baby
Talk to your baby calmly; tell them how you understand their feelings about the car seat, but it’s for their safety and it’s very important to follow this rule. Slowly pat baby’s back and put them in their harness. Although they cannot understand your words, your reassuring and measured tone will put them at ease. Over the time, as they age and their vocabulary expands, they will begin to accept their chair as standard practice.
Keep your baby entertained
Make the backseat a fun area, so that bub always associates it with fun. Bring toys to help keep your child busy, to take their mind away from being restrained. Think about what activities they like to do or what toys they like to play with, such as listening to nursery rhymes or watching a baby show. Some babies also like to play with activity cubes or toy cars.
You can also try bringing picture books which they can flip through as you drive along. Alternatively, you could also hang a small mobile across their car seat, so they can play with toys hanging above them. Read more on how to entertain babies here.
Taking care of your baby’s appetite
Babies may also cry more because they feel hungry. Pack snacks, fruit and milk for the baby, and try giving them different things to eat whenever you feel your baby is crying due to hunger. Small snacks may also keep bub entertained for a while – if they’re not hungry, they may end up playing with the food instead, which will give you a short reprieve until you’re able to pull over and take a break. Read more on how to know if your baby is hungry here.
Taking regular breaks
Your baby gets bored and lonely if they’re by themselves in the backseat, and you’re driving non-stop for hours. It’s a great idea to take regular short breaks – not only for bub, but also for yourself. As you’re driving, keep your child updated on your progress, letting them know that a break is coming up soon and that you’ll be able to spend some time together. Your short breaks will give your baby the idea that you are not abandoning your baby forever.
Try avoiding travelling alone with baby
You can always get help from your family or friends when you plan to travel in the car with your baby, in case your partner is not available. Try making shopping plans with your siblings or parents. They would be able to help you to take care of your baby while you’re driving. Your travel partner can keep your baby busy by talking or playing music, or divert their attention by playing fun games with them such as peek-a-boo. It will be great relaxation for you, since you can focus on driving without worrying about your crying baby.
Check and resolve baby’s issue
Chances are, your baby might be upset because of some issue or discomfort such as the need for a nappy change. You should also see if your baby is getting uncomfortable because of getting too much sunlight – you must provide some shade to protect your baby from direct sunlight. Conversely, your baby might be feeling very cold because of air conditioner. In that case, adjust the air conditioner according to your baby’s comfort. There’s also the possibility that the harness may be very tight. Check to see, and if so, loosen it a little.
There is no need to get panicked, upset or angry while your baby is crying – it sounds like the end of the world, but they are very much safe in their car seat. Just stay calm and do not lose focus on driving. Listen to your favourite music and try to entertain your baby by singing or chatting with them. Tell the baby that you really love them and soon you’re going to be able to focus on them again. Describe the situation and talk about the things you see around while driving. Some parents also try telling stories, or talk about their favourite cartoon characters. Just remember to keep in mind that your baby is safe, and never forget to focus on driving, otherwise it can be dangerous for both of you.
It is always best for you to always travel with your partner whenever possible, as you both know how to handle your baby, and two pairs of hands are better than one.
Try to travel when you feel your baby is ready to sleep. Put your baby into the car seat without the harness at first. Feed your baby some milk, and pat them until they fall asleep. As soon as they have nodded off, you’ll be able to do up the harness.