The silver lining to our car-seat troubles.
March 06, 2012

My daughter has loathed the car-seat since the day we brought her home from the hospital.  (Remember this?  And this?  Yeah, I was wrong about her out-growing it.  It was just a temporary break to lull me into a false sense of security.  Babies are wily little buggers.)  When I see tiny infants snoozing happily away in their car-seat, I always feel a little amazed.  HOW DO YOU PEOPLE DO THAT?!  Charlotte did more screaming than anything else in her car-seat.

My daughter is now thirty-one months old and she is still rear-facing.  She is somewhere around thirty-eight inches tall and weighs about thirty pounds, which places her firmly in the GIANT category.  So if she didn’t like the car-seat because her legs are all squished up, I WOULD TOTALLY GET IT.  She’s always bending them up or shoving them to the side or banging the headrests to the side of her with them and it doesn’t look comfortable at all.

But that’s not the problem!

The problem is just…driving.  She.Does.Not.Want.To.Drive.  She doesn’t get car-sick, she’s just bored AND I QUOTE “I like your face, Momma.  It is so good.  I need to see your face,” which UNDERSTANDABLY is the tiniest bit IMPOSSIBLE.

The kid is also a suck-up in the making, apparently.

Any time we are planning to drive somewhere, the two of us must be out the door AT LEAST twenty minutes before we need to leave.  Charlotte needs that much time to reconcile herself to the inevitability of being strapped into the car-seat.  Seriously.

It’s been driving me up the wall, but this morning I realized that for the first time in, OH, THIRTY-ONE MONTHS, I actually had enough time to read two entire library books without having to renew them.

Sometimes I think that parenting a toddler is all about finding the silver lining.  Kid found the butter and took a big huge bite out of it?  (SHUDDER, EW).  It fits better in the fridge compartment now.  Kid drew a mural on the kitchen wall?  It’s prettier than boring plaster.  Kid deposited her poop on your bathroom towel ten seconds before you exited the shower?  At least you don’t have to worry about her shitting her pants at the park later.

Kid tries to make you a hermit?  You actually get to find out what all this fuss is about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  OH YEAH.

** Charlotte is two years and seven months old.


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  1. By on March 06, 2012

    Maybe she would like it better if she could face forward and see you driving and have a better view? My kids hated the car seat too but after they turned one I used forward facing car seats and no problems or tears since! IMO your daughter seems a little old to be still facing backwards, especially if she is a “giant”! That has got to be super uncomfortable. I asked my kids pediatrician before I switched to forward facing and he assured me it was perfectly safe. It might make a world of difference for both of you!

  2. By on March 06, 2012

    Do you mind me asking why she is still backward facing at 31 months? I would love to know!

  3. By Heather on March 06, 2012

    Our child will also probably still be forward facing at 31 months because, as her daddy says, and as I have evidenced in my driving career, mama is a terrible awful excuse for a driver and our kid will rear face until she is 21, at least in my car. Ha.

  4. By momiss on March 06, 2012

    You are raising a free spirit.  I doubt she will be too thrilled with seatbelts either!  lol
    The one good thing about her being a “giant” is that she will not have to sit in one of those booster seats that they made the new law about.  I really feel for people with little kids now, it is much more complicated than it used to be.  Good luck!

  5. By on March 06, 2012

    Good for you for keeping her rear facing this long! I am a firm believer of rear facing till 36 months as long as the child can still fit in the seat (which most can). It is so much safer for the most part. I’m sorry it’s been so horrible with the screaming and all, hopefully that will stop when she is turned around.

  6. By Sara on March 06, 2012

    Maggie hated the car seat too - screamed. (and AJ isn’t much better sadly!)  It got a bit better when we started giving her books she could read on the drive. (And now you’ll always fine a stack of children’s books in our car!) But, around Christmas we turned her around, and now she’s totally fine with it. It seems that Char would be uncomfortable rear facing.

  7. By Alicia S. on March 06, 2012

    I was just informed a few months ago by our doctor that now they say all children should remain rear-facing until 36 months. Some people tell me it’s been that way for a while. *shrug*

  8. By Alicia S. on March 06, 2012

    Also, my mil warned me when we had our first that my husband screamed like a lunatic everytime he went in the car seat. My children love it. In fact, it’s been the only way Matthew would ever nap since he was like one and a half.

  9. By Sarah Christensen on March 06, 2012

    Tieraney and Amanda - The current recommendation is that children remain rear-facing for a minimum of 24 months.  Our pediatrician recommends a minimum of 36 months and cites that nations with the lowest number of child fatalities per car accident tend to require between 42 and 48 months of facing backward.  His perspective is that every child is different, but the bones in the neck tend to fuse within a certain age range and that children are safer rear-facing until that happens.  After all, in children who are forward-facing, it is not uncommon for their neck bones pop apart as a result of pressure during a crash.  There is also significant research that demonstrates that children are safer rear-facing until they are 3-4 years old.

    For our part, Charlotte doesn’t know the difference so although I’m certain she’s uncomfortable she’s also fine.  I completely understand parents who operate under former safety laws and recommendations or who operate under current laws and recommendations - safety information is updated every few years and is therefore hard to stay on top of and, furthermore, studies regarding safety are difficult to find, may be biased, and are not always easy to decipher.  For our part, our pediatrician plus our own research into the matter lead us to believe that Charlotte will be safer rear-facing until she is past her third birthday, and then we’ll play it by ear to determine when the right age is for her to be turned around.  She probably has another six to ten months rear-facing if I had to guess.  She might not be super cozy back there, but I’d rather she feel a little cramped than have a broken neck.

    The problem with her hatred of the car-seat is not her comfort.  She’s hated the car-seat even when it fit her perfectly.  She just hates driving and not being in control of the situation.

  10. By on March 06, 2012

    Thanks for blogging about extended rear-facing! My toddler will turn 3 in two months and is still RFing. We get a ton of strange looks at pre-school! She’s actually riden forward-facing in a friend’s vehicle two times and called it “going backward!“

    My toddler is not a giant like Charlotte, but she’s probably 28 pounds and 35 inches. She’ll stay RFing until she’s 3 and then we’ll reevaluate things.

    She’s not a huge fan of the car either, but if I surrender my iphone, she’s happy!

  11. By on March 06, 2012

    You do need to make sure they are within the weight and height limits to still be rear-facing.

  12. By on March 06, 2012

    does she have a mirror fixed to the headrest ?

    i made one for Alice, so we could see each other (i’d see her in my mirror, she’d see me in hers, but couldn’t see herself) and it helped…

    i know there are some you can purchase, but i just made one out of a big pocket mirror that i taped on cardboard that i cut in the shape of a cloud and covered in fabric, and i glued little stuffed animals on it..

  13. By christy on March 06, 2012

    the whole carseat thing is the roughest part of parenting. yes it is not safe for me to do so, but i often have to wear earplugs in the car. one time he scream-cried hysterically for THREE STRAIGHT HOURS.  that is the kind of torture they should inflict on prisoners.  nothing worse in the world than being in a small space with your child screaming like he / she might die at any moment.  it has been almost 20 months now with no signs of outgrowing this issue.  :(

  14. By Naomi on March 06, 2012

    With one child I think they do get kinda board in their carseat. I also think you have to take into account how often you drive, where you drive and your child’s personality.  My almost 2 year old is still rear facing. She will until she reaches the max height and weight for her particular seat.  She looks to the third row of our van and sees her two brothers so is entertained. We don’t drive often, none of us love being in the car not need to be in it that often luckily. My MIL is concerned about her legs all bunched up but my daughter does not care that much..really, have you seen the contortions that little kids fall asleep in? It IS easier to cast a broken leg then the likely injury in an accident for a forward facer. I always remind myself that some EMS call the rearfacing carseat ‘The Orphan Seat’ because in severe crashes… well, you know what I am trying to say.  Of course we all do our best and I understand why some people are so excited to turn their kid around.  With my second child we would rotate between a forward and a back facing carseat (I had an extra in the car because I babysat) this was exciting enough to be moved to have a different view point but at least half the time he was supersafe!

  15. By Sarah Christensen on March 06, 2012

    Kristine - Charlotte still fits within the height and weight restrictions for a rear-facing child for her car-seat.  We’ve actually toyed with selecting a different car-seat (Sunshine Kids/Diono is set up for a child to be rear-facing up to 45 pounds) for her that will accomodate a taller and heavier child rear-facing if she grows out of the restrictions on her current seat too soon, but we’ll see.  It depends on how we feel about it at the time, I think.  Our current car-seat only supports rear-facing through 35 pounds and she is only an inch or two from exceeding the height restrictions.  If it happens before Charlotte hits 40 months, there is a good chance we’ll switch to a Radian to keep her as safe as possible - rear-facing, within limits.

    Emilie - No, I’ve never done the mirror thing, but that’s a good idea!  That might help!

  16. By Phase Three of Life on March 06, 2012

    I can see how this would be totally frustrating… but she “needs to see your face”?! Holy cuteness!

  17. By on March 06, 2012

    Try giving her a picture book! Not one that you by, but one filled with pictures of you and your husband and Charlotte! When you travel in the car take pictures of the places you’ve been and put only those pictures in the photo album. Let this be her special book. Let her choose new pictures to put in it when it’s full. That will show her the places you’ve already been via car and will get her excited about the new places she’ll visit if she sits patiently in the car. She’s young, but not too young to learn how to be patient, even if she’s bored.

  18. By Courtney on March 06, 2012

    Well, despite all of that I am really glad she suffered through that and we got to go to the zoo together! Harper is still taking about it!

    Also…damn good book! I’ve read all three plus seen the movies. Perhaps we need to discuss these over the phone? :)

  19. By Lindsay on March 06, 2012

    Thank you so much for posting about rear-facing Charlotte. I hope a lot of people read this and it encourages them to do the same.

    On that note, Ethan has hated the carseat with a fiery passion since birth. I couldn’t stand when people thought I meant he was just whining or that “all babies love the car.“ I’m talking kicking, screaming, crying-until-he-pukes if we even take a 1 minute drive to the grocery store. It’s brutal. Not to jinx it, but at almost 9 months it’s getting a tad bit better. Twice in the past month, he fell asleep in the car. Whoa.

  20. By Jordan Marie on March 06, 2012

    Hi hi hi!

    Scarlett use to be the same exact way, until we got our van a couple weeks ago.  We switched her from a carrier seat to an upright at the same time.  Now that she can see out the window she doesn’t hate it as much.  But our main secret weapon is music.  I have her favorite cd on my phone which I can play through the speakers.. Life saver!

    Cathy Fink is the artist, and Grandma Slid Down the Mountain is the album’s name.

    Have you tried music she likes while riding?

    Good luck.

    <3xojo

  21. By tara pollard pakosta on March 07, 2012

    Mine never liked the carseat either, esp. on LONG trips. YOu can buy those little mirrors for her that hook to the seat so she can see you and you can see her!!! try that!
    tara

  22. By kbreints on March 07, 2012

    I am willing to bet once you face her forward and she can see you and everythign around her it will be much better. Not that you have to turn her now—but it will be interesting to see what happens when you do.

  23. By on March 07, 2012

    My children, 4,2 &1 are all rear facing.  The mirrors you can buy that attach to the headrest really help them, they can see me and like seeing themselves, too!

  24. By Camille on March 08, 2012

    Definitely true about the silver lining. :)

    They sell a mirror thingy that really helps for rear facing car seats. Don’t feel bad, until we turned my daughter forward facing, we couldn’t really go anywhere unless someone else was driving and I was sitting next to her. And I’d have to sing, play, read, or even get unbuckled and stretch myself into pain positions and nurse her. Now, she is 3, and I still have to sing a lot, but I can sit in the front, and that is very nice. On a bad day, I still have to get in the back and risk my life to give her some boob, or we all go temporarily deaf from her shrieks.

  25. By on March 08, 2012

    We turned our munchkin’s seat to forward facing for precisely this reason but no dice. She still screams. Have I mentioned that she’ll be 3 in two months? I’m thinking of getting one of those portable DVD players. Something, anything to get her to like car rides.

  26. By Mary @ Parenthood on March 08, 2012

    The mirror helped us (as did going forward facing).

    I’d be cautious with books and DVDs, but maybe that’s because I get SUPER motion sick if I don’t keep my eyes out of the car. Being rear facing would be a special kind of hell for me, so we opted to turn forward earlier than I might have based purely on safety in a crash. But we realized that statistically we probably let our daughter do stuff that is much “riskier” than her chance of injury in a car crash. Feeling horribly uncomfortable at that age can result in meltdowns, and while I’m not saying that that’s Charlotte’s problem, I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand either.

    Playing road games like I-Spy, taking turns “pretending to drive” and having special music for the car also made car trips easier for us (we started with child who screamed to the point of being ill. It was not a good driving atmosphere!).  I spent the first year riding in the back with her though. My tummy was glad to get back into the front!

  27. By Christy on March 11, 2012

    I love a good silver lining.  My husband just got new glasses and he said that if looks at something just right his glasses insert a orange or blue line into his vision. And he hates this. I keep telling him the glasses are just decorating his world. 

    Anyway, my daughter is 39 months old and also still rear facing. In fact we just invested in the highest rear facing limited car seat available so she could live backward for much, much longer.  She also HATED the car until we put in one of those little mirrors on the head rest on the back seat.  Now she can see us in the rear view mirror and we can see her. It really made a difference. I was shocked.

  28. By Sarah Christensen on March 11, 2012

    Christy - After talking about it for the last few days, we just bought the Diono Radion RXT yesterday, so Charlotte is now set up to be rear-facing until she reaches 45 pounds.  I definitely am going to look into that mirror thing, though.  I don’t have it as bad as some other people do, judging by the comments here, but I am really over the car-seat blues lol.


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