Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tricks For The Car Seat

I have seen kids who can sit quietly on the car seat without any problems, and also difficult kids who does not like to be restrained. Unfortunately, my 1.5 year old son is the latter. For a couple of months, when I tried to strap him onto the car seat he would wail out loud non-stop until I had to give up. I simply wasn't able to drive with a wailing child inside the car. The car seat was installed at the back seat of the car.

Since the time he can walk until about a month ago, we always ask him to sit on the car seat but it was impossible. The longest duration he can stay on the seat was for about 30 minutes unless he was sleeping. Then he would jump around, annoying his Mama and I have always been worried because it's dangerous.

It wasn't once or twice that he fell onto the car floor, or hit his head to the window or other plastic parts in the car. Plus we are worried if we hit something or get hit, he would fall and be badly injured.

As he grow older and is now less dependent on breast milk, I can now occasionally take him out on my own so that my wife can take some "me-time" or when she has work to do. As a work at home Mama this time is very important to have.

Since this is the case, I had to move the car seat to the front passenger seat. Although the safest place for a child is at the back seat, I have no choice. I configured the front passenger seat so that it reclines to the back as much as possible, to minimize issues with the air bag (knock-on-wood).

Since my compact MPV does not come with a DVD player as a standard configuration, I tried to look for DVD players and flat panel. Big brands does not seem to have any model that are installable at the sun visor, so I had to improvise. I bought a Philips portable DVD player that comes with a mounting pouch meant to be used for the headrest. It's a misuse to strap it onto the sun visor but it works.

Problem is, my son is just like his parents - he gets bored easily. When he gets bored he would want to move around, stand up, dance, and jump even while watching DVDs.

So we tried to give him something to munch on. At first we gave him junk food like corn snacks (e.g. Twisties, Chickadees) but we are concerned about his tiny kidney.

Right now we try to vary the food we give him in the car. We look for his favorites. So far he loves to munch on everything so it's hard to identify his favorites. Well, good thing that he also likes dry food otherwise it would be very hard to feed him something like rice inside the car.

It takes time to train, but he's becoming better. In the early stages we had to give him food so that he becomes occupied even before strapping him onto the car seat. So far it worked. He just need to feel safe, and be assured that it's not so bad to sit quietly on a car seat.

One thing about this method is that a hand-held or small vacuum cleaner is necessary to suck those little bits of snacks from the tight corners inside the car. It's going to be a mess.

Last night I took him out on my own to fill up gas for the car. The journey from home was fantastically stress-free even without food. I was amazed when he agreed to be strapped, even without bribe and without the DVD player. At the gas station I bought some yellow raisins (Ligo) and on the way back he was happily munching them.

(I was actually cheating since I already know he likes the raisins. It's my wife's favorite snack too.)

It was a good night, and I was (and still) so proud of him for being such a good boy.

I am still thinking of healthy snacks to introduce to him, especially since I am planning for a vacation this year and it's going to be a longer journey in the car then what he is used to.

I liked the idea of something like Heinz's Rice snack but the flavoring is too light.

Do you have any idea? What kind of snack do you give to your children in the car? Or do you have a better suggestion on keeping children quietly strapped on the car seat?

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