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We have a 2-month-old baby that will start crying as soon as we put her in the car seat and absolutely will not stop until she is out of it. She could be fed and asleep with a new diaper before the car ride, and it doesn't matter. Almost immediately, she will cry. Having her suck on a pacifier helps but more often than not, the pacifier falls out after a few minutes.

And in fact, our oldest daughter acted in a similar way and didn't stop until we had her front-facing. We thought it might be the car seat, but our pediatrican says that would be very unusual. My wife and I have talked about trying a new car seat, but that's a lot of money to try something unproven. It's gotten to the point where we don't want to take her anywhere any longer. Help!

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This is our son exactly... –  David Oneill May 29 '11 at 13:37
    
My baby is 9 months old and just started screaming like this 2 days ago .before then, she loved her carseat.... I can't figure it out –  user3126 Aug 26 '12 at 21:50
    
My second son now is 1 yet still cry n scream ever since birth. We now have changed the car seat, put him face forwarded, gives toys, fed or not fed..etc..still not working. Cries from a to z nonstop. My husband n I gets headache every time we go anywhere. I need help badly. –  anna le Mar 3 at 11:35
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7 Answers 7

Many people get motion sick when moving backwards for any length of time. I suspect that this might be the case for your daughter because her older sister did better once she was front-facing. If this is the case, the second your daughter hits the car seat, she knows that horrible feeling is coming, but she doesn't know why or how to tell you.

I would test this by putting your daughter front-facing for a small trip (use a parking lot if your locality doesn't allow children your daughter's age to face front on public streets). If she does fine facing front, you have a choice between a motion sickness remedy and facing her frontwards as a rule; I'm sure that both your locality's car seat regulations and your pediatrician's advice would inform that decision.

Here is a link to the car seat laws for US states.

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Yup, we had the same problem when our daughter was a bit older - she hated the car until she got a seat where she could see out the window. (Though I doubt that is the problem at the moment). Though, possibly being able to see the parents in the front would be reassuring too. Maybe she doesn't like the noise of the car? –  Benjol May 29 '11 at 20:17
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You cannot legally put a 2 month old forward facing. A 1 year old can legally be forward facing and I know of at least one 1 year old who was turned forward facing despite the best practice being to rear-face until between 2 and 4 years of age. However I don't believe in providing illegal advice. –  justkt May 16 '13 at 12:20
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Both of our daughters did this, and it wasn't just the car seat, it was strollers too. They hated to be strapped into something. We made sure the straps weren't hurting them in any way. One thing our pediatrician suggested was to make sure that we didn't just feed them before putting them in a stroller or carseat because the sitting position could be uncomfortable with a full belly.

My theory though, was that they just didn't want to be set down, separated from their mom. My wife is a stay-at-home mom, and the girls were used to being around her all the time, and if they needed something, they could cry (0-6 months old) and mom could fix it for them - except in the car seat. I think my girls were upset because they wanted to be held, and knew mom was sitting right by them but wouldn't pick them up.

We became nearly anti-social during these periods of our girls' lives because driving anywhere with them nearly drove us insane.

One day, I finally recorded my second daughter in the car. This was a 45 minute car ride, and I am not even joking - she screamed like this the whole time. We made the mistake of pulling over and trying to comfort them one time - yes, they stopped crying as soon as we had them out, but then we had to put them back in to finish our trip and the screaming was 10 times worse. If we were going to make the trip, it was best to make it as quick as possible. This sounds harsh, but we made sure that everything in the seat (we tried different seats too) was comfortable, they weren't in pain, etc. I really believe they were just mad that we weren't picking them up when they cried - in fact, I even called my 3 month old daughter spoiled on one or two of these trips! :)

They eventually grew out of it. Our first born still did this on occasion until she was about 14 months old (even in a front-facing carseat). Not consistently, but when she got it in her head that she wanted out of the carseat, she would scream for the rest of the trip.

I guess this really isn't an answer but more of a "You're not the only one". I can't help but wonder if babies who are around their moms all the time are more prone to this?

I just had to share the recording too, so others could agonize like I did... Just crank up the volume and put it on repeat for 45 minutes ;)

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+1 for the recording. –  RHPT Jun 3 '11 at 3:56
    
That recording sounds pretty similar to what my little guy does. Not sure why he flips out in the car seat. Nice to know that I am not alone. –  Kelly Nov 12 '13 at 21:38
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Do you have a mirror in your car - the type that attaches to the headrest to let you see the baby? When I removed the mirror, my son was much better about crying in the car seat. The mirror does some perspective distortion and I imagine it is confusing seeing things in reverse for them. I also removed the headrest from directly behind the car seat which helped him see out the back window more.

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This is a good idea. Removing the mirror adds a little extra mental distance because after all, mommy can't come help right now because she's driving. Plus, I'd argue that being able to check on the baby is a negative safety factor - just accept that you can't assist right now and focus on driving the car. If necessary, you should pull over and stop before focusing on the baby. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Mar 19 '12 at 20:38
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I realize this is an OLD question, but I wanted to add that babies with reflux can sometimes become more uncomfortable in carseats based on the angle of the seat. My daughter had silent reflux and was pretty miserable in her infant carseat until we finally moved her up to a larger seat and she was able to sit more up-right. I know many parents of children with reflux will tell you that putting their babies in their carseats helped wonders, but it isn't true for all children.

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This affected all three of our children, confirmed with a doctors diagnosis of reflux issues. Luckily this meant we could keep the kids safely rear-facing, and just upgrade to a better bigger seat. Only affected them in their new-born baby seat. –  Alex Dec 26 '12 at 8:15
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One thing that seems to help our 4 month old is to cover his car seat with a light sheet or blanket. This helps him to sometimes eventually fall asleep.

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Our daughter is slightly happier when she has a higher seat where she can see more out. With infant seats this can sometimes be achieved by buying a base that you mount permanently and snap the seat in and out of, as opposed to strapping in the seat itself. Since you don't mention what type of seat it is, it's impossible to say if this is a factor or not.

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My daughter screamed in the car seat from about 1 month old until about 4 months old. She could not fall asleep in the car seat due to her Moro reflex. So if I attempted to drive anywhere during nap time she would get overtired and scream. In retrospect a product like the Swaddle Me which allows for swaddling while in a harness safely would have helped that situation. Whenever a newborn is not sleeping he or she is usually hungry, so if I attempted to drive my daughter when she was not tired she would be crying because she was hungry. It was pretty miserable.

At 4 months she was old enough to be awake at times when she wasn't hungry as well as old enough to grasp and mouth toys. She was also old enough that her Moro reflex had diminished to the point that she could sleep unswaddled. So at 4 months I could either hand her a toy to play with on a short car trip or get her to sleep for a long one. At that point things got significantly better.

As a 1 year old my daughter still complains in the car seat if she is hungry and does not have a snack, but other than that she can be content.

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