Getting toddlers to sit in their car seat and buckle up can sometimes feel like the fight of the century. It’s so much easier when they are tiny little babies who don’t struggle to get in their seats! Once they start voicing their opinions, though, it can definitely be a challenge to convince them that sitting in their car seat isn’t that bad. And, let’s face it, they don’t have a choice when you have to leave the house — safety comes first. With all that said, here are a few tricks you can use to smoothly get your toddler in his or her car seat without a resulting tantrum:
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1. Books: I like to give my baby boy a book just as I’m about to slide him into his seat, which distracts him from the fact that he’s about to be buckled up. Board books work great at this stage, of course, but if I don’t have one around, I use whatever is available — a magazine, flyer, brochure, etc.
2. Keys: My boy loves playing with our keys, so sometimes I give him my keys as I buckle him up. I do have to make sure I have something else to trade for the keys once I’m ready to start the car. I have to note that toy keys just don’t work for him — believe me, I’ve tried!
3. Snack/drink: Giving him a snack or drink (sometimes both) really helps to get him in his car seat easily. This only works if he’s receptive to a snack at the time. If he just ate, then there’s no point in even trying.
4. Plush toy: I know that having a friend to cuddle with often helps make this transition a smooth one. Though my baby boy doesn’t yet have a favorite lovey, he will still snuggle with a plush animal.
5. Notebook & pencil: Baby boy loves to scribble! A notebook, notepad, or even a scrap piece of paper with a pencil brings him some joy. I’ve always got both in my purse because I know it makes for some quick entertainment.
6. Silly games: Sometimes as a mom, you just have to get silly. Singing silly songs, playing silly games or making silly faces while getting baby boy into his car seat often is enough to get him laughing, allowing for me to buckle him up.
7. Let him help: Now that he’s older, baby boy can help fasten the top buckle. I suppose it makes him feel like a “big boy” so I usually let him do this part of the car seat process.
I hope these tricks help avoid a tantrum next time your toddler needs to go in his car seat! What tricks do you use to make the car seat process a smooth one?