Some babies will kick and scream when it comes to riding in their car seat so we need to employ a range of tactics here! First check the car seat for comfort. Choose a car seat with ample cushioning and a soft cover to make for a comfortable ride. Some fabrics can be quite rough and leather can be either cold in winter or hot and sweaty in warmer weather . Check that the seat belt straps are comfortable and not pinching your baby and consider covering any metal buckles on hot, sunny days so they can’t burn your baby. Remember to place a sunshade on the window so baby isn’t bothered by the sun’s glare.
Try feeding your baby before traveling so he is more settled and is not crying because he is hungry and it’s getting near to feed time.
If your baby is a little older you could bring the car seat into the house and let them play around it. The idea here is that the more familiar your baby becomes with the car seat, the less distressing it might seem. You could buckle a doll into the car seat and let your baby see that the doll is content to sit there and comes out of the car seat unscathed!
Distraction is a probably one of the best methods for alleviating problems in the car. Make a game out of getting into the car seat. Play a game of peek-a-boo or sing a little rhyme.
An older baby will need to be keep amused on the journey and the easiest way to do this is with a selection of toys. Choose toys that have been specially designed for use in the car or ones which have special suction pads that will stick to the window or the back of the front seat. These are better than loose toys which you will have to retrieve every time they get dropped!
Hang a colorful mobile or attach an activity rattle to the car seat. There are a large range of take-along toys on the market today which are designed especially for the car and clip onto car seats or head rests.
Stock up on kids CD’s or make your own CD “mix” and play baby’s favorite music in the car. One mom has suggested playing a mixture of music and “white noise” or soothing sounds for baby which can be purchased on CD. White noise can have a calming affect for many babies and help them to sleep better.
Toddlers and preschoolers traveling in the car might like to listen to their own music and recorded stories on a portable kids CD player, iPod or MP3 player with head phones. Portable DVD players that attach to the front seat can also keep young children amused on long trips. Make sure the DVD player has a car charger and includes straps or mounts to secure the player. These objects can become missiles in the event of an accident.
If you are going on a long trip consider giving baby some company. Many babies do not want to feel alone, so having a brother or sister to talk to her and play with her in the car can be a real help. If there are no siblings, consider having one parent sit in the backseat with the baby while the other drives. I have used this tactic myself many times over the years. Anything for peace on a long road trip! Even when there were four children in the car, sometimes it was easier for one parent to sit in the back with the baby and then one of the older children got to ride upfront so they were happy!
Of course, you will not always have this option, so if you are traveling solo, try putting pictures of people or a baby car mirror on the back of the front seat so baby has someone to “talk to” – read more.
For older babies and children pack a selection of small snacks. Include some finger foods like fruit slices, fruit bars, dry cereals, popcorn and small rice cakes. Pack some drinks in pop-top style bottles (water or fruit juice) to reduce spills. Make sure you have plenty of baby wipes on hand to clean up sticky hands and faces afterwards.
Try to make the journey as relaxed as possible by checking the route before you set out and allow plenty of time to get there. This way you wont arrive late and anxious if you need to make a number of unscheduled stops. If you are going on a long journey, consider travelling at night. If you are lucky, your baby will be soothed by the motion of the car and will sleep for at least half the journey. The alternative is to leave very early in the morning which I found also works just as well.