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Car seats--torture for some.
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Q Several families in my practice are concerned that their infants and toddlers scream relentlessly while sitting in a car seat in the family vehicle. The behavior started at 3 to 5 months of age. It persisted past 1 year, even when the car seat was turned to face forward. These are healthy, happy, thriving children who display the behavior only while in the car seat.
The families have tried without success to distract the children with music (singing, tapes, or CDs), pacifiers, books, and toys. Some parents have even resorted to reaching into the back seat to touch and try to comfort the child, but that doesn't seem to help either. The constant screaming causes a great deal of stress to parents and siblings riding in the car.
Two of the children are now older than 2 years, and the problem has resolved spontaneously with age. Unfortunately, I do not have advice to offer families of younger children who are in the screaming stage. What strategies do you recommend?
Safety first. A car safety expert made three main points when I asked her about this situation:
If the problem persists after attending to these matters, consider recommending the following behavior management techniques designed to help children adapt to annoying but necessary situations:
The techniques of advance warning and praise for compliance, which are useful for older children, might not apply to infants under 1 year of age.
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Behavior: Ask the experts. Contemporary Pediatrics 2002;8:35.