1) Get to the Root of the Problem
So for starters, you’ve got to get down to what really makes your little one prefer to steer clear of the car/seat. Is something uncomfortable about the actual seat? Or is it more that he/she gets bored/lonely riding in the back seat solo? For our little guy it was a combination of both these things…. Go figure!
2) Use Pairing
Pairing is a term used to describe combining two things, one favorable and one unfavorable, in order to make the unfavorable thing become favorable over time. That’s a fancy way of saying make the “bad” thing fun! Our little guy has a favorite stuffed giraffe. Don’t know why, but he loved it from the moment we bought it…. So, we hung it up around the backseat of our car. We never take it inside, so he only sees Mr. Jerry the Giraffe when it’s time for a ride. Pairing is most effective when the desired thing is only present during the undesired thing. That way, getting what LO wants outweighs whatever he/she doesn’t like about the situation. This is a good solution if your child doesn’t like something about the actual seat.
3) Take it Slow
If your little one is still uncomfortable or leery of being in the seat bored and alone, the best thing to do is take it slow. Baby will learn to trust the process when it isn’t too daunting. Start by putting him or her in the car seat in his or her room- a familiar place. Then move to the car, but don’t actually go anywhere. Just stand next to him or her (outside of the car is better so you riding backseat doesn’t become an expectation) and provide some encouragement. Eventually you can take actual trips, which brings me to my next point….
4) Take it Short
Take short trips initially and work your way up. Start with 5-10 minuets, then 15, then 20, ok you get it. The goal is to get baby right to “the point.” You know, that point where he or she is a little agitated but not full blown fussing yet. Little nudges as opposed to big pushes is the way to go.
5) Just do it
You’ll probably see this tip again! It’s one of my favorites for basically any issue. Sometimes, you just have to do it! Baby may cry and you may feel bad, but it will be worth it. Trust the process and stay consistent. My spiritual mom said something to me when we dealt with this with our son and I will never forget it; Kids don’t grow out of stages, you parent them out of stages. We had to parent our son out of his fear of riding alone and his frustration of being uncomfortable in his car seat. It was a tedious process, but I’m thankful we did it. Now we go anywhere and everywhere (almost) hassle free.