Automobile accidents are the number-one cause of death in Americans under the age of 34. One of the leading causes of car crashes is driver distraction. What’s more distracting than a screaming baby in the back seat? Pretty much nothing.
From rising car insurance to putting your family at risk, you should be doing everything you can to make sure your fussy baby isn’t putting your road safety at risk. Here are some tried and true tips for keeping the fussing to minimum.
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Tape or Hang Toys at Eye Level
Unlike toddlers or bigger kids, babies have a hard time keeping their toys or distracting puzzles in their hands or seats when they are in the car. To solve this problem, get custom car toys that hand on the window or the back of the seat in front of the child. That way, the younger baby will always have his or her toy in front of them.
Depending on whom you ask music or white noise works best to soothe babies in the car. Invest in a CD that has the sound of rain, wind or trickling water. Some even argue that the best way to use sound to soothe a fussy baby is by turning up the static of the radio station as loud as you can handle it. If that idea makes you feel like you’re going to lose your mind, you can also try upbeat children’s music.
Incorporate the Nap
Ah, nap time: the literal salvation of mothers across the globe. We all know how mothers hate to interrupt a child’s nap schedule. Instead of seeing the car as an interruption of the nap, start to incorporate nap time into your driving plans. In fact, according to social worker Kim West, “a nap schedule isn’t a rigid, inflexible plan.” And other experts point out the power of motion to help with sleep. West suggests sitting in the car with a book when you get home if you know your baby won’t continue to nap once you’ve gotten out of the car.
If you’re baby hasn’t started drinking formula yet, consider beginning to introduce it into her diet. If you don’t have to depend on breast feeding in the car, you can soothe your child with feeding. There are several automatic bottle warmers you can get to use in your car.
This may not seem like advice for helping your baby to stop fussing in the back seat, but according to WebMD, parent stress does affect babies. They pick up on the parent’s emotions, so if the parent is yelling or upset, the baby will cry more not less. “Babies and children are very sensitive social barometers,” as Doctor Andrew Garner puts it.
Give the Baby a Sense of Your Presence
If one parent can sit in the back with the baby that will be best especially if the baby is fussing because he or she isn’t sure of your presence. If both parents aren’t riding in the car, you could also blow up a picture of your face and place the picture in front of the baby. It may sound crazy, but moms on blogs are swearing by it.
If you are used to procrastinating your departure until the last possible minute, driving with a baby should break you of this habit immediately. Plan for time to stop along the trip so that you and your baby feel relaxed. Plan for extra time in case you can’t get your child to stop crying and you need to pull over. If you know you have time to spare, you’ll feel less stressed, and your child could learn to enjoy the car instead of detest it.
Get a Different Seat
If you’ve tried everything, and nothing’s working, you may consider looking into a new car seat for your baby. They aren’t able to articulate discomfort except in the form of crying, so you may consider listening to their requests. They may simply be uncomfortable. Some chiropractors suggest that back problems can make car seat life for babies very uncomfortable. Once the child is old enough, you can also switch out your back-facing seat for a front-facing seat so that you alleviate their proclivity to motion sickness.
The stress of hearing your child panicking in the back seat is enough to make any parent want to lose their cool. But your safety and the safety of your family have everything to do with dealing with that fussy baby in a way that keeps you from becoming a roadside statistic.