Is It Okay to Let Baby Cry In Car Seat?

Crying is a baby’s primary means of communication, but what should you do if your baby cries while in their car seat? This article aims to answer this question. 

We’ll look at why babies might cry in car seats, the potential harm of letting a baby cry it out in this situation, and techniques for soothing a distressed baby. 

We’ll also discuss safety precautions, the ongoing debate between allowing a baby to cry it out versus immediate soothing, and when it might be necessary to consult a pediatrician.

Understanding Why Babies Cry in Car Seats

Babies cry in car seats for a number of reasons. 

They may be uncomfortable, overstimulated, bored, or simply objecting to being restrained. 

Some babies also experience motion sickness in the car. 

Understanding the reason behind the crying can be helpful in addressing your baby’s needs. 

It’s important to note that every baby is different and what works for one may not necessarily work for another.

Risks and Potential Harm of Letting a Baby Cry in a Car Seat

Risk of Hypoxia

Prolonged crying in a car seat can lead to hypoxia, a condition characterized by inadequate oxygen supply to the baby’s tissues. This happens because crying for a long period can cause the baby’s oxygen consumption to increase, leading to potential oxygen deprivation​.

Emotional Stress

Leaving a baby to cry for extended periods can cause emotional stress. It is essential to provide comfort and reassurance, helping the baby develop a sense of security and trust​​.

Physical Stress

Excessive crying can lead to increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and elevated stress hormone levels in the baby. These physiological responses can put unnecessary stress on the baby’s body​​.

Increased Risk of Illness

High levels of stress hormones due to prolonged crying can compromise the baby’s immune system, making them more susceptible to illnesses​5​.

Risk of Choking or Vomiting

Intense and prolonged crying can lead to gagging or vomiting, which, if unsupervised, can potentially lead to choking, especially when the baby is in a reclined position in a car seat​6​.

Potential for Developing Sleep Problems

If a baby is habitually left to cry without comfort, it may lead to chronic sleep problems. The baby may begin to associate the car seat (or sleep environments in general) with distress, making it difficult to establish healthy sleep patterns​​.

Risk of Flat Head Syndrome

Continuous time spent in car seats can contribute to plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome. This condition can occur when a baby’s soft skull becomes flattened in one area due to prolonged pressure​​.

Comforting Techniques for a Crying Baby in a Car Seat

When your baby cries in their car seat, it can be stressful, especially if you’re driving. Here are some comforting techniques you might consider:

  • Check the basics: Make sure your baby isn’t hungry, doesn’t need a diaper change, and isn’t too hot or cold.
  • Use soothing sounds: Some babies are calmed by white noise or music. Consider playing soft music or a white noise app during the ride.
  • Provide entertainment: Hanging a soft, baby-safe toy from the handle of the car seat can give your baby something to focus on.
  • Try a mirror: A mirror that allows your baby to see you can sometimes be comforting.
  • Practice makes perfect: Some babies just need time to get used to the car seat. Try doing practice runs with short trips around the block.

When to Pull Over: Safety Precautions

If your baby’s crying becomes intense and you are unable to soothe them while driving, it’s safer to pull over when you can do so. 

Never attempt to take your baby out of the car seat while the car is in motion. 

It’s also important not to allow your baby’s crying to distract you while you’re driving. 

Your safety and the safety of your baby is paramount.

The Debate: Crying It Out Vs Immediate Soothing

There is an ongoing debate about whether it’s okay to let babies “cry it out” or if they should be soothed immediately. 

This debate extends to car rides as well. 

Some experts believe that as long as a baby’s basic needs are met and they are safe, it’s okay to let them cry for a bit. 

They argue that this can help babies learn to self-soothe.

Others believe that babies cry because they need comfort and ignoring their cries could cause them stress. 

They recommend pulling over and comforting a crying baby.

Ultimately, the decision is up to you as a parent. 

It’s important to do what feels right for you and your baby, and to consult with your pediatrician if you’re unsure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs:)

Q1: Is it harmful to let my baby cry in their car seat?

A: While it’s never pleasant to hear your baby cry, sometimes it’s unavoidable, especially during car rides. If your baby is safe and secure in their car seat, it’s generally okay to let them cry until you can safely attend to them. However, prolonged periods of distress can be harmful, so try to soothe your baby as best you can.

Q2: What can I do to soothe my baby in the car seat?

A: There are several things you can try to soothe a crying baby in the car seat. These include playing soft music, hanging a mobile for them to look at, or providing a comfort object like a small blanket or soft toy.

Q3: What if my baby always cries in the car seat?

A: If your baby always cries in the car seat, it might be worth checking to make sure they’re comfortable. Check for things like a too-tight harness, an uncomfortable car seat angle, or a need for more head support. If your baby continues to cry every time they’re in the car seat, it might be worth discussing with your pediatrician.


To conclude, while it can be distressing to hear your baby cry in their car seat, remember that crying is their primary form of communication. 

Your response should be guided by a balance between understanding their needs and ensuring safety during travel. 

If your baby’s crying seems excessive or unusual, or if it’s causing you distress or distraction while driving, it may be worth seeking advice from a pediatrician or child safety expert.

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