The other day, as The Mister and I pulled into the driveway after dropping M1 and M2 at their Grandma’s, we stopped to absorb the quiet for a while. Silence is a rare thing nowadays. We looked at each other and then at the back seat where M3 was asleep. He exchanged a knowing look, because only a few months ago, he was screaming tirelessly every time we’d buckle him into his car seat.
Fortunately for some of us, car seats are not mandatory in Jakarta traffic. It’s actually more common for moms to hold their babies in the car while a driver takes them to their destination. Or for nannies hold their babies while mommies drive (yes, that was me.) But when there were no more drivers and no more nannies (also known as the time when luxury instantly vanished), I had no choice but to buckle my kid at the backseat while I drive them to and from their routines. It was a painful fight in the beginning, but let me tell you, it was completely worth it! Because now I seem to have it really easy – road travel wise.
It also seems like safety awareness has increased here in Indonesia and everyone is more aware of the importance of buckling a baby down. (Yeay! Good on us!) Even so, to be aware of the importance of buckling a baby down is not the same as actually buckling the baby down.
I know that some would hesitate to start the process, because well, it can be really painful and the noise can be a lot to take – I won’t lie to you about that. But we are highly adaptable creatures and our children are too. What’s two weeks of haranguing cries from our babies compared to long term safety and social responsibility? Because if noise is all you’re worried about, there is really nothing that a pair of earplugs won’t fix.
How I eased my baby into the carseat:
- Do a test drive. Take your baby on test drives in a carseat. Go for short distances first and increase the distance as he gets used to it. He will cry at first, but he’ll find his own comfort. Start with a 15 minute drive to the nearest grocery store or another nearby place. His reward will be when you hold him in your arms and tell him that everything is okay. But don’t just drive around the block, set a destination, so he learns that when he’s in a carseat, you’re both going somewhere.
- Make sure he’s well-fed and clean. Cranky babies are harder to work with. Before you go for a drive, don’t occupy yourself with thoughts that he’s hungry or that his diaper is dirty. The focus should be on making him learn to be comfortable in the carseat. It’s better to go on a full stomach and a dry nappy.
- Put on a nice music. This one, in particular, always helps us. I got a playlist of possible songs they’d like to listen to. Even when they’d be screaming at the top of their lungs, hating they fact that they’re strapped to a seat and not swaddled, I would just sing along even louder. Somehow, they would tire and start listening to the songs instead, because in fact, they really like it. Sometimes, we’d get lucky and they’d would fall asleep through the entire ride.
- Give him something he can hold on to. Let him hold his favorite toy, or a snack, or even a bottle when it’s time for him to have one or when he’s old enough to hold one on his own. I found that letting him hang on to something brings him comfort into what seems like a really strange process.
- Always remember why you’re doing this. Sometimes when your baby is screaming at the top of his lungs, you will question yourself as to why you are torturing this poor creature. You are not. Nobody ever likes change, but we know and we know that we are highly adaptable creatures. As long as you think your baby should be comfortable, minus the carseat drama, then he should learn to get comfortable.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been behind the wheel, stuck in Jakarta’s(b*tch!) traffic with a crying baby in a backseat, and my mother beside me telling me just how much pain and trauma I’m bringing upon my child like as if I didn’t have enough headache as it was already. The noise combo in the car made me want to pull the hairs out of my head and whack the player playing the kid song over and over with a bat! But you know what? My son was not in pain. He was not traumatized. He was just learning. In fact, about a month after those daily road dramas, he happily climbs into the carseat and he even falls asleep at times.
Focus on the “why” you are doing this – because you know strapping your baby to a carseat is the right thing to do. Your baby will adapt, and you both will be okay.
Our forward-facing carseat is Britax’s First Class. Available at all Mothercare.