After around 6 weeks of life on this complex planet, my baby made things even more complicated by screaming her soul out whenever she sniffed the car seat. I sweat even thinking about that time. This is why I used to leave my suburban area only when I had to, and I mean – life or death situations.
Driving has always had a relaxing effect on me. I focus on the road, the engine sound, and the freedom that the car provides. So, when Z. started acting as if it was the worst torture in the world, I was lost. To add to that, diagnosing her allergies, and taking care of her tummy issues meant I often had to drive across the city. For a previously enthusiastic driver, across-the-city trip become an unimaginable pain.
I mastered emergency stops in the middle of a busy street in the rush hour. She would choke on her own saliva from crying so hard for so long, or was out of breath and needed me to blow in her mouth, or would simply vomit from all the stress. Cars horning, me jumping to the back of the car – Supermommy to the rescue!
People claimed it was the Maxi Cosi car seat that was so uncomfortable (they were not right), or that it was her reflux and tummy pain (maybe but unlikely).
Some of the advise seemed reasonable (“give her time, she will outgrow it”), some of it was scary (“put her in the car and drive till she stops crying”). My mom on the other hand, was turning her head from the start not understanding why Z’s seat was placed in the back and not beside me (she was rarely same hysterical when I was sitting next to her, but mom! the air bag!).
Sounds familiar? Well, this is how I dealt with it.
When Z was 5 months I had enough of it. We have tried everything but one – moving her to the front. My husband switched the front passenger’s seat air bag off, placed her beside me and we have never looked back since.
Not only was she finally a cheerful baby, but I also became a focused driver again. Before that I would cry, sweat, and be totally stressed behind the wheel. After the change we were safe again. You can read sometimes that mothers are less focused when baby is next to them. Well my experience is different: I was less sweaty, and more focused.
Without moving my eyes away from the road I was able to touch her, comfort her. I was able to look her in the eyes on the red lights, give her the dummy or her plush toy. She was calm and quietly happy. She was cooing, smiling, and looking at the world outside the window. She would also fall asleep in the seat not because she was exhausted from crying, but because she was tired and it felt like a safe place to sleep.
We used to drive together like that till she was 18 months old, and I sometimes miss those early months of having my buddy next to me.
Before you do anything please check your local legislation. In some countries/states it is illegal to place the seat in the front regardless the fact that the air bag has been deactivated.
I am not claiming that everyone should keep their baby in the front. In some cars you can’t switch the air bag off and in that case, no matter how hysterical your baby is, never ever put him/her in the front.
But if you dread every car trip, even the one that will only take few minutes, and your have the possibility to switching the air bag off manually, then why not trying it out? Here’s a great article on the car seat in the front by CarSeat.se – Are Car Seats in Front Seat Safe? The answer might surprise you.