Dreading the car ride with your little one?

How to keep your little one entertained in his seat

You’re all prepared for a ride with your little one. You’ve installed the seat properly, strapped your baby in snuggly, all set and off you go. But before you turned around your first corner your little angel is already crying his eyes out and trying to wriggle out of the 5-point safety harness. He acts as if the whole world is crashing down upon him and you can’t do anything about it because you are stuck behind the wheel. Oh the joys of car rides… But there’s hope! Like anything, it takes time, patience and discipline to make these rides pleasant as well. Because they sure can be.

It all starts at home. Plan to spend one or two weeks to intensively work on the “problem”. Make sure your baby is used to the car seat and let him play with it. Take the safety seat into your home and let your child play the mother or the father. Carefully buckle in one of their favorite toys and help them explain to the toy how important the seat is for their safety. Let them create make-believe trips to their favorite destination and everybody can only arrive there if they all stay in their seat. This is the start of your little one learning to identify the right behavior. If all goes well and they reach their imaginary destination, everybody gets a treat and the play has been a success.

This kind of exercise really helps your little one to get familiar with the whole situation and will translate well into the real deal later on.

Some hard tips you can consider for every trip:

  • Schedule enough time. If your child is misbehaving during the trip, stop the car and talk to your child. Coach him through the experience and reward him afterwards. If done properly from the start, you will reap the benefits for many years of car rides to come.
  • Play audio cassettes your child likes – rotate them to prevent boredom.
  • Give your child special toys for in the car – All children look forward to having special toys for special occasions. (Do make sure they are soft and harmless and won’t pose a threat in case of any accident)
  • Play car games with your child - It’s a perfect opportunity for some quality time:
    1. Count all the dogs / cats / green cars / busses / you get the gist… you can spot
    2. Play “I spy” with colors
    3. Name all the different transportation methods you can see

Kids have no concept of time. They live in the moment and that’s what their life is all about; No obligations, no deadlines, no plans. It’s all about now and the car ride is just another opportunity to have fun. So treat these moments like that as well. Be in “the present” together with them.

If you as a parent already treat the situation like this, then it’s easier for your child to follow your good example. Make sure to keep some nice rewards for when you’ve reached your destination and before you know it, your little one is asking you when your next trip is!

Young boy with curly hair strapped in child car seat on backseat of the car.

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