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Reality Check: Road-Weary Baby

Q. My 2-month-old hates to be in a car seat and wails every time we go for a drive. Any suggestions to make driving easier for her -- and me?

A.
Knowing that your baby's behavior is common won't make the ride any easier, but it may help put things in perspective. Infants who fall asleep minutes after you pull out of the driveway may be in the majority, but there's a sizable (and vocal) minority who apparently didn't read the "What to Do on Car Drives" chapter in the baby manual.

Your little bundle of lungpower probably isn't in pain (although you should check out that possibility with her doctor -- she could have motion sickness, which can be worse in certain positions, but that's rare). She may simply need to adjust to the sensation of being a mere speck of cargo in a vast moving machine, in which case all you can do is give her time and make her as comfortable as possible. See if these strategies help:

  • Make sure the buckle isn't pinching her and the straps aren't either too tight or too loose.

  • Try wrapping her up in a blanket (looser around the legs) before you put her in the seat and using a rolled-up receiving blanket alongside her, to stop her head from flopping over.

  • Rig up a shatterproof mirror so she can stare at herself (and you can see her in your rearview mirror) and string up a few soft toys where she can see them.

  • Leave a back window open in good weather -- the breeze and white noise may help knock her out.

  • Chatter about where you're going and what you're doing so she knows you're still there -- and to remind yourself that crying doesn't change the fact that you're late getting to Aunt Margaret's or that you're out of everything and you absolutely must get to the store.

  • Don't take her crying personally, and hold on to your sense of humor. Go out by yourself whenever possible. The upside: Running errands alone will feel like a day at the spa.

    Trisha Thompson is a contributing editor to PARENTING and a former editor-in-chief of BabyTalk.

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