Jun 26 , 2020
Motion sickness often causes trouble for toddlers, preschool-aged kids, and parents during family trips and long drives. While experts can’t exactly pinpoint a reason for it yet, it’s generally believed that car sickness is more common in people with developing brains and other underlying systems—i.e., babies, toddlers, and sometimes even teenagers. Fortunately, there are many ways to help kids relax while traveling.
Why Do Kids Become Car Sick?
The inner ear, eyes, muscles, and nerves usually transmit similar messages to the brain. If you’re jogging or working out, your body parts will inform the brain that you’re in motion. But when your eyes or inner ear aren’t able to agree on whether or not you’re really moving, that’s when you become prone to car sickness.
It’s believed that car sickness tends to be more common in young kids since their brains are still developing. In other words, a child with a brain that isn’t equipped to receive opposite messages from the brain, inner ear, and other body parts is very likely to feel queasy during long trips. Tiny toddlers who aren’t able to look out the window are also very prone to motion sickness since their eyes aren’t able to tell the brain that they’re moving. On the other hand, kids who are tall enough to see the road don’t have to deal with motion sickness that much since their eyes and inner ear are able to tell the brain the same thing: “We’re going forward”.
How Do I Know If My Child Is Car Sick?
The most common sign of car sickness in babies and young kids is an upset stomach. You can tell if your child is feeling queasy by observing their behavior. Babies and toddlers might become less lively than usual, have trouble sleeping, act restless and irritable, or start to cry if their stomachs aren’t agreeing with them. Other signs to watch out for include pale and clammy skin, cold sweat, little to no appetite, and vomiting.
Remedies to Prevent Car Sickness
1. Make regular stops
Your child will need to rest and take breaks during your road trip. While planning your road trip make sure to choose routes or highways with enough gas stations, lay-bys, and other rest areas. If you’re traveling with a baby, allow them to lie on their backs for around 10-15 minutes after every hour of driving. Toddlers and young kids should also be allowed to walk around for a bit and go to the bathroom as needed.
2. Watch for early signs
You’ll need to stop driving once your child starts to show symptoms of motion sickness. It’s best to ask someone in the back seat to watch over your child so that you can address vomiting, sweating, fatigue, and other symptoms as soon as possible. It’s also important to make sure that whoever you assign as your ‘watcher’ knows how to recognize and soothe symptoms of car sickness in your child.
3. Adjust their seat position
It’s not a good idea to let kids sit in the very back of a car or van since this is where they’re most likely to feel car sick. Instead, have your child sit in the center rear seat as they’re less likely to see fast or blurry objects from there.
You can also prevent problems with car sickness by letting your child sit in safe and approved car seats or booster seats. That way, they’ll get to see out the window and feel more at ease. If your child is younger than 2, make sure to place them in a rear-facing car seat until they’ve outgrown the maximum height and weight limit set by the manufacturer.
4. Keep them entertained
Distractions like music, movies, or simply fun conversation can reduce your child’s chances of becoming car sick. You can make long trips more fun for your child by singing songs with them, letting them listen to music, or doing relaxation exercises like deep breathing. Focus on activities that won’t make your child dart his eyes around so much since that tends to make car sickness worse.
5. Let some air in
Your child’s car sickness will only get worse if you keep the windows closed. It’s much better to open the windows just a bit so that your baby or toddler can breathe enough fresh air. Kids who are prone to car sickness will feel much better if they get to breathe in fresh air during a long drive. Do avoid food, drinks, fresheners, and other objects with strong smells since those will only make your child’s car sickness worse.
6. Prepare an emergency kit
Car sickness can’t always be avoided. It helps to have an emergency kit filled with food and medications for motion sickness. Ginger candies and crackers are great snacks to bring along since they can soothe upset stomachs and stave off hunger. You should also consult your child’s doctor to find out what medicines they can use for car sickness. Remember to follow the instructions when giving medicine and to check whether or not your child is old enough to use anti-nausea medication.
7. Drive smoothly
Even adults often have trouble traveling on winding, bumpy, and curvy roads. As much as possible, drive on routes that don’t require you to make many sudden brakes, turns, and sways. You should also check to see whether your car is in good shape as faulty equipment can turn a smooth sailing trip into a disaster. Your child’s brain and stomach are bound to suffer if the long drive home is way too bumpy for comfort.
8. Don’t always go digital
Portable DVD players and game systems might not be good solutions for motion sickness. The bright colors and fast-moving motions from a movie or game can overstimulate a child’s brain and worsen symptoms of car sickness. If you plan on using gadgets, go for music players instead. It will be much easier for your child to relax if he listens to music or audiobooks than if he tries to keep up with a movie, cartoon, or video game while on the road.
9. Keep your kid fed
Your child is more likely to get car sick if he or she is forced to travel on an empty stomach. When kids aren’t able to soothe their hunger during long drives, they end up with nausea due to abnormal stomach rhythms. It’s much better to feed your child meals that are easy to digest and high in protein. Ginger-flavored crackers are the best snack to bring on a trip since they can easily soothe any upset stomach.
10. Try acupressure bands
Acupressure bands work by pressing against certain pressure points on the wrist to reduce nausea. Since these bands don’t really have any serious side effects, they shouldn’t cause your child any problems while they’re on the road. You can try using acupressure bands to help your child relax and lessen any sense of imbalance in their bodies.