Car sickness, medically known as motion sickness, is a common issue among children that can turn any road trip into a less-than-enjoyable experience. As parents, it's important to understand why this happens, how to identify the symptoms, and most importantly, how to prevent and ease the discomfort.

Why do kids get car sickness?

Car sickness, like all forms of motion sickness occurs due to a mix-up in the signals the brain receives from the inner ears, eyes, and other parts of the body about the body's motion. When these messages conflict, it can lead to the unpleasant symptoms of motion sickness. Children are particularly susceptible to motion sickness because their developing sensory systems are more sensitive.

Why do kids get motion sickness?
Hand in cold water: This may seem weird. But if you have a bowl or large water bottle, put their hand in and the cold water on their wrist will relieve nausea.

Causes of Car Sickness in Kids

Car sickness isn’t caused by the car itself, but by the brain's reaction to motion. In a moving car, our inner ear sense motion, but our eyes, looking at the stationary interior of the car, send the brain conflicting signals.

This confusion can result in symptoms of motion sickness The problem is often exacerbated when children are doing close-up work such as reading or playing video games during a car journey.

Don't put the child that often suffers with travel sickness in the middle seat as they need quick access to a window.

Symptoms of Car Sickness

Motion sickness symptoms in children can include dizziness, fatigue, excessive yawning, a cold sweat, and ultimately, nausea and vomiting. Anxiety and restlessness can also be symptoms, especially in children who have experienced car sickness previously. It's crucial to keep an eye out for early signs of discomfort in your child, as symptoms can escalate quickly.

Put your hand out the window to stop nausea

Preventing Car Sickness

Preventing motion sickness is always better than cure. Learn what can trigger motion sickness in your child. Here are some strategies you can try:

  • Plan ahead - Try to schedule your road trip during times when your child is well-rested and in a good mood.
  • Avoid heavy meals: Eating a light meal before the journey can help reduce the chances of car sickness.
  • Positioning: Seat your child so they can see out of the window and focus on a fixed point as this can help reconcile the conflicting signals being sent to their brain and prevent motion sickness.
  • Distractions: Keeping your child engaged with stories, car games or sing-along songs can help distract them from any burgeoning feelings of sickness.
  • Fresh air: Keep a steady supply of fresh air in the car to avoid any strong food or car odors that could potentially trigger nausea.
Try keeping some ginger ale or ginger snaps in the car. Ginger is known for helping with nausea.
Take short breaks to prevent car sickness

Dealing with Car Sickness

If your child still suffers from motion sickness despite taking preventive measures, here are some tips to help ease their discomfort:

  • Provide small snacks: Give your child some dry snacks, such as crackers, to nibble on. This can help settle their stomach and reduce nausea.
  • Have a bag handy: Keep a bag or bowl nearby for those that suffer often. You can keep these close by in a back seat car organizer. Last resort, out the window or in the car trash can.
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Sorry kids, but devices like phones and tablets can worsen motion sickness so these may need to stay stowed away!
Tablets can cause motion sickness

Motion Sickness Remedies

If your preventive measures don't work and your child still gets car sick, here are some remedies to treat motion sickness:

  • Short breaks: Taking regular stops can give your child's sensory system a break and help reduce symptoms.
  • Hydration: Encourage your child to drink water. It can help to soothe the stomach and keep your child hydrated, especially if they've been vomiting.
  • Over-the-counter medication: There are motion sickness medicines you can buy that can help prevent the symptoms of car sickness. Always consult with a pediatrician before administering any medication to your child. For kids with severe motion sickness, you may need prescription medications.

Motion Sickness Mayhem

Every child is different, and what works for one might not work for another. It might take a bit of trial and error before you find the techniques that work best for your child.

Remember, car sickness is a common problem and there's no need to worry - with time and a little patience, it can be managed effectively.

Happy travels!

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Kids Car Sickness FAQs

Still think you need a but more information on this topic? Have a read of these FAQs.

What is the best age to travel with kids?

The best age to travel with kids varies for each family. Some parents prefer traveling when their children are very young, while others wait until they are older and can better handle long journeys.

Is car sickness a form of anxiety in children?

Car sickness is not considered a form of anxiety in children, but it can lead to anxiety and restlessness. If your child experiences severe or frequent car sickness, it's best to consult a pediatrician for further guidance.

Can car sickness be prevented with medication?

There are over-the-counter medications available that can help prevent the symptoms of car sickness. However, always consult with a pediatrician before administering any medication to your child.

Can car sickness be outgrown?

Yes, many children eventually outgrow car sickness as their sensory systems mature. However, some adults can still experience car sickness in certain situations.

Are there any natural remedies for car sickness in kids?

Some parents have found that essential oils, ginger products, or acupressure bands can help ease the symptoms of car sickness in children. However, it's always best to consult with a pediatrician before trying any natural remedies. Remember, what works for one child may not work for another. With some patience and experimentation, you'll find the right strategies to make your travels smoother and more enjoyable for everyone involved. Happy trails!

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