The American Academy of Pediatrics advises to keep screens turned off around babies younger than 18 months and to limit screen time for toddlers. However, these recommendations are easier said than done, especially when it comes to long trips in the car. While the on-board entertainment system is a surefire way to quiet a fussy child, these four tips can keep your toddler calm without resorting to screens.
Bring Along Comfort Items
Most toddlers have at least one special item, such as a blanket or toy, that brings them comfort. It might be tempting to leave treasured things safely at home on trips, but having a security item to hug and cuddle can reduce your child’s fussiness and crying. Remember to have a plan for keeping up with lovies on trips to avoid a meltdown at home when they turn up missing.
Provide a Headrest
Toddlers often become fussy in the car because they have nowhere to rest their head. Car seats can be uncomfortable on long trips, and little ones get tired more easily than adults. Provide a small pillow or stuffed animal so your toddler can rest comfortably. You can also find special travel pillows for toddlers. For example, we found fun football pillows at a toy store and a cute hooded travel pillow at a store that sells toddler girl accessories.
Play Soothing Music
While rocking out to your favorite road trip tunes might be fun for adults, loud music can hurt toddlers’ ears and make them fussier. Make a playlist of soft, soothing songs to keep your child at ease while traveling. Children’s lullabies are an obvious choice, but classical music is a great alternative for parents who don’t want to listen to kiddie music in the car.
Nothing takes a child from happy to fussy faster than dropping a toy in the floor where they can’t reach it. Avert disaster by attaching your child’s toys to the car seat so they can’t be lost. Use safe materials like Velcro and avoid long cords or ribbons that can cause strangulation. You can also purchase toys that are specially made for attaching to car seats.
Although limiting screen time is good, don’t feel bad if you have to resort to playing a movie in the car occasionally. The most important thing is to keep your toddler content in the car. A calm, quiet child makes the drive safer and more pleasant for the whole family.