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!

  • This is our son exactly... Commented May 29, 2011 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
    Commented Aug 26, 2012 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.
    – user6943
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 11:35
  • My 11months old cries as soon as we put her in the car seat. This happened at around 1 month old anh it get worst as she gets older. Now she cries until she throw up. We tried to take a road trip but all we had to turn around after an hour of driving.
    – user20025
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 15:55
  • Since this seems to be a somewhat common issue and you mentioned prohibitive cost for not trying another car seat: Second hand car seats are incredibly cheap (occasionally as low as $10) If you want to try if a certain item is better for your child but can't afford the money, go second hand.
    – Peter
    Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 19:37

8 Answers 8


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.

  • 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
    Commented May 29, 2011 at 20:17
  • 2
    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
    Commented May 16, 2013 at 12:20

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 ;)

Edit December 2015 I should add that we had a third child after I wrote this answer and he traveled in the exact same car seat as our first two children - he never screamed or even fussed. That leads me to believe that it wasn't due to an uncomfortable carseat, but more the personalities of the our first two children.

  • 1
    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
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 21:38
  • 2
    I have a few kids too & have to say, that personality for sure can be an issue, even when it comes to an uncomfy seat. What one child will find to be totally tolerable, a more sensitive child will show a reaction to. I have 2 boys. One dresses up fine. The other acts the whole time like I am torturing him with stiff clothing & neckties. They are both in the same, well fitting clothing. One just is a lot more sensitive to anything he finds uncomfortable, always has been, so that is always possible too. I think there is something great in 3rd kids too, mine was a dream for car rides. ;)
    – threetimes
    Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 18:12

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.

  • 1
    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. Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 20:38

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.

  • 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
    Commented Dec 26, 2012 at 8:15

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.


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.


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.


It's old to answer, but in case others are still looking for help on similar issues I wanted to add in the carseat might be the problem. I took every tip on my one child & all he did was cry. When he outgrew the infant seat at a year & we switched to a covertible, it stopped, like immediately. I only wish I had realized he was merely really uncomfortable. Infant seats have a tendency to be less comfy than convertibles, the padding isn't as nice, the shell shape is odd. They do make convertibles that can be used from 5lbs up, so birth to probably around 4-5yrs old depending on the growth of a child. The one I have now is used by my 3yr old & I don't expect she will outgrow it before 6 or so, and it starts from birth.

My advice would be to try a convertible seat if you are using an infant one. You have to upgrade anyway if you are currently using an infant one, so it's worth trying it. If it's no help, you can save it for when your child is larger, but if it works, it's a blessing.

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