“My baby hates the stroller/car seat!” Any new parent will tell you that is a terrible phrase to hear. Is there any way to help stop, or just ease this pain? Yes, yes there is, but it’s going to take a little work on your part.
I remember talking with my brother on the phone and not being able to hear him for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth going on with his little one who was in his stroller. When I asked what was going on in the background, my brotber just nonchalantly answered…”What can I say, my baby hates the stroller/car seat.” He seemed much more calm about it than I would have been had I been in the same situation. I was fortunately blessed with a baby that zonked out as soon as I put him in the stroller. I am so thankful for that blessing, Lord.
Now getting back to the answer of how we can stop this problem. In our role as a parent, we wear many hats. In the baby hates the stroller situation, we need to put on our detective hat, because we are going to have to be especially observant. We are going to really study her, trying and learn what she likes and doesn’t like…study her like your sanity depends on it. Quick hint…IT DOES!
Maybe a lion tamer’s hat might be more appropriate for Phase 1…blonde wig a la Sigfried and Roy?!? That might be the better choice after hearing my nephew in his stroller. (ADD Side note: How does such a tiny thing produce such a loud roar?)
Phase 1: Train your little one to like the stroller / car seat
1. Start by first just putting her in the stroller and taking her out right away…no straps! Make a game of it. “In you go! Now out of the stroller!”
2. Once she isn’t crying the moment she is put in the stroller, play peekaboo or another game that makes her happy. The goal is to make the stroller a fun place where she wants to be. Play with her until she gets comfortable just being in the stroller.
3. Once she seems comfortable in the stroller, try strapping her in and then quickly unstrapping her. If she doesn’t get fussy right away while she is strapped in, play peekaboo or another happy game with her. Again, we are just trying to get her used to being strapped in the stroller.
Remember, oh great lion tamer, every baby is different. Your baby may take to the stroller or car seat quickly, or it may take longer. It may take 30 minutes of doing this, or it may take a week. If you feel yourself getting frustrated, just think about the long quiet walks you are going to be able to have with you little one. This is the path to your regaining your sanity. Its worth the effort!
4. Now it’s time to take off the lion timer’s blond wig, and put on the detective hat. Start experimenting with short trips down the driveway or into the back yard. Again, this is all about getting her to enjoy being in the stroller, so bring her back in if she appears to be upset.
5. Adjust time and distances in stroller from there.
While you are on these short strolls, pay attention to what seems to bother your baby, and more importantly, what doesn’t. Ask yourself these questions: When does she start crying? When does she stop crying? Does she always cry or just sometimes? Does anything make her happy in the stroller?
Become a detective. This may be a bad analogy, but pretend you are that over-acting, red headed, actor who was on that Miami CSI TV show. Pretend you are starting your own TV series…CSI Baby Stroller. (I don’t have a TV, so for all you die hard fans of the red-headed actor I just besmirched, I’m sorry.)
Phase 2: Variables you can control and check Time of day. Does your baby like to be outside in the morning when its cooler? Maybe in the afternoon when she’s had a long day of laying on her back and staring at the ceiling. I’d want a change of scenery myself. Time of day definitely may play a role in this process.
Position. Some babies dont line not being able to see you. All it takes is to put her in a position that is facing you. This way you can interact with her more. Give her eye contact and speak to her.
Sleepy. Some parents try strolling when she is sleepy…not tired, big difference. Sleepy = Nap. Tired = Melt down for your child AND you. That one I can attest to. I made the mistake of planning an evening outing with the A-Bomb after a long day at the park. Let’s just say that night ended rather badly.
Straps may be too tight? Who wants to sit in something that constricts or pinches? Not me! Check to make sure the straps are snug, but comfortable.
Sun in her eyes? Afternoon walks sometimes are bright and sunny. A sunshade could be all it takes to make strolls more fun for everyone.
Too hot/cold. Remember, you are walking, moving around, and warming up. Your baby is just sitting there…and if you are jogging in a stroller, catching a breeze. If it’s cool out, be sure to bundle up your baby and keep her nice and warm. If its warm out, make sure you help keep her cool. We don’t want your baby catching a cold.
I wrote an article about how to prevent your baby from over heating in a stroller on a hot summer day. Here is a link to it.
Persistance. Babies change quickly. What may bother her today won’t tomorrow or in a week. Keep trying. My nephew who hated the stroller? It was funny, one random day, he didn’t mind being in the stroller. After that, no more crying. What was my brother’s method? They just kept putting him in the stroller and kept putting up with the crying.
Phase 3: Distract that baby!
There are many options for distracting a baby. One of the more popular ones is the Mobile. Mobiles have lots of dangly, things that just naturally attract a baby’s attention. When they are thinking about that swirling, yellow, dangly, thingie right before their face, you know what they are NOT doing? You guessed it, crying because they are miserable in the stroller.
Mobiles are a popular distraction tactic, but they have a limited life span. There are any number of toys to include in this list. You may just need to see what works for your baby.
The A-Bomb loved the remote control. He loved changing the channels, enough that I eventually bought him a real remote. I put batteries in it, so that it lit up when he hit the buttons. I never set it up so that it actually changed the channel though. The point of all that is if it works, go with it. If a remote control works, use it. If a spoon works, use it. What ever makes your baby happy…use it.
I read about a family that used an electric toothbrush to calm their baby down when it was in its car seat. There must have been something about the vibrations or the humming of the toothbrush soothed the baby. They wrote that it was a vital part of their travel supplies.
Food is always a go to distractor. Goldfish are popular because they are bite size, baked, and tasty for Poppy and Mommy as well. One warning, if the little one isn’t facing you in the stroller, beware of choking or the ever popular slurpey / sippy cup spill. They can make a mess of themselves a d the stroller in the blink of an eye. If you are out for a while, there is nothing worse than being surprised with a partially dried slurpey spill all over your baby and stroller when you get home.
With all that cell phones can do now, music and videos are always an option for distracting a little one. I’ve never a big fan of screens and technology as a distraction, especially as it is those screens and technology from which we are trying to escape.
Phase 4: Alternate Options If strollers don’t work out for you, there are still other options yet to consider. Here are a few alternatives that will allow you to get outside a d adventure with your little ones.
Cargo Bikes. Bakfiet is a Dutch made bike that is the gold standard for kid and cargo transport all over the world. I might give my left arm for a Bakfiet cargo bike. They are awesome. I have a friend who started a biking nonprofit here in my hometown. She rides her kids to school in a Bakfiet. I am just filled with envy every time I see her riding, and I see the joy in her kid’s eyes as they ride in it.
Push wagons and push trikes are a fun way to get outside. Kids aren’t typically strapped in and these can be a fun way for kids to particiipate in the walk. With the wagon, multiples of kids can ride together and that is always fun. With the trike, although riding alone, your child can pedal a d feel like they are helping…as opposed to just sitting there in a stroller
Carriers, Wraps, and Slings. Some parents prefer to carry their child. It is a bit more intimate, which can be a good or bad thing. Plus as the kids get older, they have this bad habit of growing and getting heavier. Carrying a child allow moms and dads to keep their hands free to do other things like walk the dog, (see the article I wrote
“How can I get my dog to walk with a stroller”) go shopping, or just clean the house. People all over the world use variations of wraps and4 carriers, so there must be something to them.
When the A-Bomb was born I tried a carrier and a wrap. I used the carrier a lot, and liked it. I was never comfortable with my knot tying abilities therefore the wrap was rarely used. The wrap I used was a long piece of material that one literally “wraps around themselves attaching the baby to one’s back or tummy. I wonder where they came up with that name?!? There are any number of ways to tie it…baby facing you, baby facing away from you, baby on your back or on your tummy. I always worried that something would become loose and he would fall off. Even though many people swear by them, I just never really used my wrap that much.
Two carriers that are popular are the Baby Bjorn and the Ergobaby. I’m planning to do a comparison article on those two carriers, and will provide a link here when it’s done. So look for it soon.
Now that you have a few options on what to do with a crying baby, put on a new hat, your adventurers hat and go have an adventure with that kid of yours.