As a parent of a toddler, there is no limit to the things that will turn your normally happy, exciting, and fun child into a screaming, tantrum-throwing monster. One of those big culprits is trying to get a toddler into a car seat.
What makes the meltdowns even more frustrating is they tend to pick the perfect time. It knows that you’re in a hurry seems to put my toddler into a tailspin. So we’re here to provide you with a few tools to help you convince your opening thinking toddler to buckle up.
Give your baby car seat options.
Toddlers like to feel in charge. So by negotiating with them, we can convince their tiny independent brains to do what we need them to do. A little trick I use with my toddler is to ask him if he wants me to buckle him in, or pick him up. Or does it want to do it by himself?
Making your child feel like he’s a big boy and not a baby helps convince him to go along with what you need him to do.
Explain car seats to your baby.
It’s never bad parenting to negotiate with your child. Not only are you building a strong foundation for them to use at adults. But it teaches them that talking through their problems instead of throwing a temper tantrum. For getting in the car seat and buckling up, my toddler gets to play with car only toys, but snacks are also great tools to use.
I’ve noticed that the biggest obstacle I face with my 4-year-old is to get him to understand. Sitting down with him and explaining to him. “Hey, I know you don’t want to get in the car seat, but I need you too,” is what works for us. My son loves just to understand what’s going on. It’ gives him that sense of control; they often feel like they are missing.
Games or Music
Don’t be afraid to get creative, sing, be funny, and having fun with your toddler while in transit. It’s very hard for them to sit still, with all that energy coursing through their little bodies. I act out a scene of dinosaurs chasing us, like his favorite show Dino Dana.
Bilingualkidspot.com has a great list of 10 games you can play in the car.
- Fun car games
- I Spy
- Don’t Say It
- I’m going on a picnic.
- Who am I?
- Alphabet Race
- Car Colour Game
Distraction is another great way to keep your toddlers mind off of being strapped down. Take this time to talk to your child, asking them how their day is, ask them what they had for lunch (and it’s ok for you already know the answer, you’re trying to distract them). Talk about the cars driving by, or the colors on the trees. Teach them to recognize stop signs or stores along the way.
The Escape Artist
Does your toddler unbuckle their seat belt? What about pulling their arms free on the shoulder straps?
Here’s a little trick that may help curb this dangerous habit:
- Place your toddler in a button-up shirt
- Leave the shirt unbuttoned
- Strap your toddler into his car seat (like you normally would)
- Button up the shirt, covering the latches
Focus on the destination.
Talk to your toddler about all the adventures you are going to do. If you are headed to the park, get them excited to go play, talk about the swings or the slide. If the destination isn’t so fun, talk about smaller parts that they might find fun, like riding in the grocery cart, or seeing Aunt Bettie.
If you notice your toddler heading into the downward spiral of a temper tantrum, take a second to find a way to distract them. Breaking out in a silly song, or dance is a sure way at my house to stop a meltdown.
Stay calm and be firm.
The most important advice I can give is to stay calm. We understand that some days your toddler has his agenda. But, when it comes to buckling up, there is no other option. So stay firm, and stand your ground.
The waiting game
If you have a toddler, like mine, then eventually they will give in, getting bored of the game and let me win. I take this time to explain to him about all the fun things you are missing out on. He doesn’t get to get up and play, as then he associates it with something fun, but we sit in the car and talk for a few minutes.
When it comes to buckling up in a car seat, there is no limit to the imaginative things you can do. Take a deep breath; it’s going to be ok. This hurdle is just a small step to creating an amazing person. And, with the right attitude and tactical plan, this, like all of your toddlers, meltdowns, will soon pass.
Having to sit in one spot is difficult for even the oldest of people. Now imagine being a child.
Now take it a little further and imagine being a baby and having to sit still in a car seat when there is so much fun stuff to do in the car while it is moving.
Your baby wants to get up and move around, dance to the music. And she wants to play on the floor. She wants to do so many things besides sitting in that seat, but it is just not safe.
Car seats are needed. Read this article to find some helpful tips on how to keep your little one safe in her car seat even when she would rather be doing other things.
Make sure that car seat fits properly
Since babies can’t communicate well, a simple rule of thumb is always checking for comfort first. In almost every situation, check to see if your child is uncomfortable. The car seat is no different.
If your baby is crying in the car seat, first check to see if it is too tight, pinching, or hurting her in some way. Look for redness or marks where the seat may be causing discomfort and adjust.
If this relieves pain and still keeps the child safe, then you may have solved the problem with a simple adjustment.
Be careful not to adjust the seat so much that you cause the straps to be so loose that the seat is now unsafe. That will defeat the purpose of the device altogether.
Sometimes your baby is just unfamiliar with the seat, and they just dread getting in it in the car. They like the freedom that they have in the house.
While at home, they can roam as they please and climb up on things. They sit in people’s laps. Also, they lay on beds, but in the car, they are strapped in and can’t move. Because they can’t comprehend that this is for their safety.
Thus, it is recommended that you use the car seat while in the house sometimes. Try putting them in the home as a chair.
If you allow your baby to have “television time,” put them in the car seat in front of the television during that time. This will give them some time to become more familiar with it.
The car seat will eventually not feel nearly as foreign to them as they get used to it in the home.
In a world of ever-growing technology, all babies are watching videos and movies in the car by the time they are weeks old.
It would only be right for you to integrate a television or tablet with Wi-Fi to hang for baby to see to keep their attention while in the vehicle.
This would definitely keep most children quiet. It would even introduce learning opportunities for children of all ages during commuting times. There are many different ways that this can be done depending on what age your child is at the time.
Look for a new innovative car seat
Car seats are changing and morphing into new and creative styles every day. They are becoming more comfortable with many more styles to choose from. This is aiding in the process of making it easier to help our babies with their crying spells.
Many car seat makers have even designed a forward-facing newborn car seat, which helps with one of the main factors that incited cries from babies in the past.
Most car seats now have cup holders and places for snacks, as well as padded straps for comfort. All of these additions, coupled with other adjustments, make babies’ cries disappear as we speak.
Use hanging toys or mirrors to keep the attention
Babies have been pacified with items as simple as mobiles since the beginning of time. It is no surprise that hanging toys and mirrors would be used to keep the attention of a baby in a car now.
You should try to hang soft toys for the baby. Hang colorful toys around the baby. You should even try to hang some of their favorite toys within reach to distract the baby.
Mirrors on the back of the seat in front of the baby will be a good distraction. This will cause infectious laughter within the baby. She will be consumed with the little face that she sees in the mirror.
There are many more items that you can use as distractions that will soothe cries and buy you time to travel in the car.
Babies are not known to be still beings. That doesn’t change because they are sitting in your car. It doesn’t help because they are behind you while running the many errands that you have to go each and every day.
This makes it difficult for parents everywhere. It is not only the law, but it is also safe to make sure that your baby is sitting in her car seat.
Following some of the tips listed in this article, you will find that your baby can sit still much longer. She will be able to endure the ride more. These tips will be sure to make your life easier:
- Make sure that the car seat fits properly
- Establish familiarity
- Use electronics
- Look for new innovative car seats
- Use hanging toys or mirrors to keep the attention
These tips will make your ride more pleasant. They will make your baby happier and will ensure that your baby will remain safely tucked in her car seat for the entire trip each time you must go somewhere.
Is It Safe for My Baby to Sleep in the Car Seat?
Sleep is important for a few reasons. During this time, the brain refocuses its energy to compartmentalize the new information and commits it to memory, which means a baby who sleeps in the car seat is a smart baby. Still, curious parents may still wonder why their baby sleeps in the car.
There are many reasons why your baby falls asleep in the car. You are going to learn about those reasons here.
Get to rocking
It is not strange to see a baby who sleeps in the car seat, but even adults fall asleep while traveling, and you might be surprised to learn that this habit is picked up in your mother’s womb.
Keep in mind that babies are rocked inside the womb since they are floating in water most of the time, and mothers move around getting their babies used to sleeping when there is movement. Taking this into account helps explain why your baby sleeps in the car.
White noise rises
Another reason a baby falls asleep in the car has to do with the white noise created in your vehicle. You might not think your car makes soothing noises, and you are probably right. But what it does do is provide repetitive noise or white noise.
However, you are probably asking yourself, “where is this white noise coming from?” You know it isn’t coming from your radio. You are right; it is just your engine working.
This kind of noise has been proven to be quite effective at getting the brain to quieten down so that you can finally sleep. This is yet another reason your child sleeps in the car seat.
You probably know that your brain strives to make things clearer for you; for example, the scent of vanilla or cinnamon sometimes makes people think of home.
The reason this happens is that the brain has associated those scents to memories of your house, making them pretty nostalgic. The same thing happens when your brain associates your bedroom to sleep, which starts when you are a baby.
The strange thing is your brain only needs a place to resemble a bedroom to make you think about falling asleep. The car is cushioned and warm, which is another reason your baby sleeps in the car.
You might be surprised to learn that sometimes a baby falls asleep in the car simply because he or she is bored. There is nothing to do when a baby is riding around in your car except look at the view or watch you drive.
It might not be something you want to hear, but driving looks pretty boring after some time. That boredom ends up forcing your baby to relax and slowly drift into dreamland, which is where you want this bundle of joy to be.
This is yet another reason your child sleeps in the car seat. It is so effective that parents use this trick to get their children to fall asleep. Sure, you can try to play with your child all day to tire him or her out, but why go through the trouble when you’re only a car ride away from a good nap?
This one might be a little strange, but the reality is that the highway can actually hypnotize some people and could explain why your baby sleeps in the car.
There are countless cars passing by, signs, road markings, and many other things you see on the road continually, which can hypnotize you.
Your baby’s brain may lose interest in the images, which is always hungry for stimulation. These images do not engage the brain all that much and force it to calm down. This overwhelming calmness is too much for some babies, which is why a baby falls asleep in the car.
One of the most straightforward reasons your child sleeps in the car seat could be that he or she is just tired. Yes, sometimes, it seems like a baby has an endless amount of energy, but that is not the case.
Your baby is human, just like everyone else, and gets tired just the same. Your baby sleeps in the car at times simply because you tired him or her out throughout the day, coupled with the fact that a car ride is all of the above and more.
Those who know their baby is just tired should extend that car ride a bit because you know sleep is important for the child’s brain’s overall development.
For the most part, there is no reason to bat an eye when a baby falls asleep in the car. But that is not always the case. Sometimes, there are underlying issues that could be making your baby a little more sleepy than usual, like sleep disorders. A baby can have sleep disorders like the following:
- Overwhelming stress like when a baby had a crying spell
- Sleep apnea could be possible as well
- Night terrors may be to blame
Of course, those who suspect something may be wrong should contact a health care specialist as soon as possible because these problems may only get worse.
Sleep apnea means there are moments in your baby’s sleep where he or she is not getting enough oxygen, which is vital for brain development.
Now you know everything there is to know about your baby falling asleep while you drive. You can use this knowledge to your advantage. It could even be helpful to you if you get a little drowsy when you drive.
As a parent, you want to do everything in your power to keep your child safe. Especially considering car accidents are the number one killers among children.
The best way to keep your baby protected from these accidents is to learn about car seat safety.
There are so many different articles and studies regarding babies and car seats that it can get overwhelming.
If you are struggling to learn about car seat safety, here are a few things that you should know:
Choose the Right Car Seat
There are a lot of different brands and styles of car seats to choose from.
Before you even purchase one, you should take the time to learn about all of the different ones. Some are made for newborns while others are made for toddlers.
The three main things that you should consider when you are buying a car seat are your baby’s weight, age, and whether the seat meets safety standards.
There should be a manufacture date and label that will let you know if it is safe.
Learn How to Install It
Your car seat will come with instructions on how to install it.
There are also numerous videos on the internet that you can watch to learn how to install it.
The best place to install it would be in the back seat, preferably in the middle seat, if it will fit. You will want to make sure it is in the right position and you have secured it properly.
Even if you are very confident in your ability to install a car seat, it never hurts to get it double-checked.
You can stop by your local police station or fire department and they will be glad to help you.
Don’t Use It as a Crib
Babies tend to fall asleep better on car rides.
This means they will be likely to fall asleep in their car seats. If you are driving, it is fine to let them sleep.
However, once you have stopped and got to your destination, you should take them out.
It isn’t safe for babies to spend extended periods of time sleeping in their car-seat. Babies who sleep in their car seat are at an increased risk of experiencing SIDs.
This is because their heads are too heavy and they can fall forward, making it difficult for them to breathe.
Keep Your Baby Rear-Facing
You should keep your baby refacing until they are two years old.
A lot of parents try to move them out of their seats before they are ready. This can be dangerous if you were to get into an accident.
Your child should reach the maximum age and weight requirements of the current seat before you move them to a bigger one. You may want to check with your doctor depending on how your child is growing.
Know Exactly How to Buckle Them Up
When you put your child in their car seat, you should make sure you have them buckled up correctly. There shouldn’t be a single doubt in your mind as to whether your child is safe in his/her car seat.
The chest strap should be flat against their chest and even with their armpits. You want to make sure all the straps are flat against their body and there isn’t any extra slack.
If your baby is wearing a large winter coat, you will want to take that off before you put them in. These coats can prevent a secure fit.
Stay Away From Used Seats
Car seats can be expensive, so it may be tempting to buy a used one.
If you do choose to buy a used car seat, make sure that you do your research beforehand. You will want to make sure that the seat isn’t over six years old.
It should also come with the instruction manual and a label that has the manufacturer date and model number. There should be no damage to the car seat and it should have never been in any moderate or severe car crashes.
Ensure Your Baby Is Properly Positioned
When installing your car seat, you should make sure it is going to be in the proper position.
You don’t want your baby’s head to fall over or be at an uncomfortable angle.
If you are struggling to get a secure fit, you can put rolled-up washcloths or blankets in the seat to create a more secure fit.
Be Conscious of Toys
Giving your baby toys while they are in the car may seem like a good way to keep them calm and quiet.
If you do want to give them toys, make sure they are soft and tucked close to their body.
Hanging their toys above them does allow them to see it better. However, they can become flying projectiles which can cause an accident or hurt your baby.
Keep Them Safe Outside of the Car
Car seats are designed to keep your baby safe while riding in the vehicle. They can also be used to make it easier to carry your child from place to place.
If you are taking your child out of the car while they are in their car seat, you need to make sure you are keeping them safe. You will want to place them on a solid surface.
If you are taking them into the grocery store, make sure you put the car seat in the large part of the shopping cart.
Every parent wants to keep their child safe. Whether you are just running to the grocery store or going on a long road trip, it is important to keep your baby safe in their car seat.
Sure, it might add a few extra minutes to your trip at first. But as you practice, it will get easier and become like second nature.