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10 Ways to Make Car Rides with Baby Fun

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We hear from lots of moms of young babies asking how to help their baby deal with rides in the car. Some babies fall asleep almost instantly, but for those little ones who just don’t love being in the car, this gallery is for you!

Make Sure Baby is Comfortable Before Leaving

a mom changing her baby's diaper

Sometimes the solution to a big problem can be simpler than you thought. Is your baby fussy in the car because you’re leaving at the wrong time? Give yourself a half-hour extra when getting ready to make sure that baby has a full tummy and a fresh diaper. This will set your baby up to be more relaxed, making the car ride better for both of you.

Check the Angles on Your Car Seat

a mom installing a car seat

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 75% of car seats are installed incorrectly. If your car seat is installed at an angle that has your baby either too upright or too reclined this could cause discomfort and fussiness in the car. Also, be certain that the chest straps are at or below shoulder level when rear-facing, and that the chest clip is at armpit level when buckled.

The only way a baby can tell you that he’s uncomfortable is by crying—so making a visit to the local car seat installation facility (check with your police department for locations) might help if you’re not sure if everything is positioned appropriately.

Install a Sun Visor

a mom smiling while the sun shines through the car screen

While a sun visor may not up the fun of a car ride, it is one more thing to consider if your baby is uber cranky in the car. Since babies should be rear-facing until they are at least two years old it’s almost impossible for you to tell if part of their car meltdowns have to do with the sun in their face. Sun visors are easily stuck to passenger windows with suction cups, so it doesn’t take too much effort to eliminate another possible irritant.

Find Your Baby’s Favorite Tune

musical notes

Finding just the right song to calm your baby may take a few tries, but even newborns have musical preferences. When baby is fussy or crying, keep trying different tunes until you happen upon the one that your baby really focuses on. Don’t be afraid to branch out to different styles—the perfect song can be anything—maybe your baby is a metalhead or classical conductor at heart. Don’t give up too easily—the right song can be a real life saver.

Buy a Better Travel Mirror

Baby Einstein Music and Discovery Travel Mirror

Installing something like the Baby Einstein Music and Discovery Travel Mirror might cure the car seat blues. With four play modes and different timer settings this travel mirror will not only let you keep an eye on your little one, but will keep her entertained while in the car.

Sing a Song

a family singing in the car

Your baby has been intently tuned in to your voice since the moment he could hear, so singing a song when he starts to get upset can stop a meltdown in its tracks. Even if you sound more like an ogre than an Aguilera when you sing, your voice sounds lovely to your little guy. Sing your heart out and see if it calms the crying. Bonus points for making up your own lyrics to refresh the old standards.

Designate a Special Toy for Car Rides

kids toys piled up

If you happen to find a special toy that your child seems particularly drawn to, try keeping it for car rides only. Maybe it’s a squeaky giraffe or a rattling blanket—whatever it is, save it for when your baby needs soothing. For bigger kids, a plastic tub with special trinkets, puzzles, and toys can ease boredom as well.

Bring a Snack

potato chips

Once your baby is old enough to hold his own bottle, car rides should get a lot easier. If he starts to get fussy, pass his bottle back to help him feel more comfortable. Once he’s older and has control of his pincer grasp, a small tub of something soft and small like puffs or Cheerios will help him cope with being in the back seat.

Tell a Story

a mom driving a car

Whether you tell an actual story or just keep describing what’s around you, the sound of your voice can be incredibly soothing to your little one. Think back to something funny that happened when you were young, share the plot of your favorite book or movie, or read all of the other license plate numbers aloud—just speak in a happy and engaging tone to keep your angel feeling happy.

Get a Portable DVD Player

a portable DVD player

If all else fails and your baby is older than two (the age at which the American Academy of Pediatrics gives the greenlight for screen time), there’s always the ultimate distraction. Pop in a Disney movie or something educational--anything to help your wee one get her mind off of being miserable in the car. If DVDs aren’t your style, a tablet or smartphone will do the trick. Install a few age-appropriate apps or get a Netflix account loaded with favorite kids’ shows to help pass the time more pleasantly.

 
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