Kids’ motion sickness usually begins with an upset stomach. A cold sweat, loss of energy, and appetite may follow. Sometimes this progresses to vomiting.
Your child might not be able to say how they feel exactly but will demonstrate it by becoming pale and squirmy, then lots of yawning and crying.
What Exactly Is Motion Sickness?
Any form of movement can cause motion sickness, car sickness in kids being one of them. It occurs when your child’s brain receives conflicting messages.
When your kid is in the car, their body will sense that they are moving, but if they cannot see outside the window, their eyes tell them that they are not moving.
Motion sickness will not affect all kids in the same way. And while the problem does not seem to affect most infants and toddlers, children aged 2 to 12 are particularly susceptible.
If your kid develops car travel sickness, stop the car at the soonest possible opportunity and let your little one get out and breathe fresh air.
Here we’re going to share our top tips on how to prevent motion sickness, along with advice on how to clean up your car should the motion sickness get the better of your child.
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To prevent car sickness in children, you need to pay attention to what your kids eat or drink before a trip. You should avoid greasy, heavy, or sugary foods if your kid becomes nauseated.
On the flip side, some kids get car sickness on an empty stomach. If that is the case, give them a small bland snack or meal. Encourage them to take sips of water instead of chugging it all at once.
Other strategies for coping with motion sickness in children include:
Provide Air Ventilation
If your kids start to feel ill, adequate fresh air can relieve car sickness. You can open the window or sunroof a bit to allow fresh air to flow. This way, you will settle the queasiness.
If you have air fresheners in the car, consider removing them from the car before your trip. Mostly scents and odors cause sensitivity that might also lead to feeling ill.
Seating Position Matters
Whilst with adults, being the driver of sitting in the passenger seat can greatly help with motion sickness, your child under 12 doesn’t have this option.
If they are prone to motion sickness, have them sit in the middle seat instead of the side seats so they can have a clear view of the windshield. Encourage your kid to look at things outside of the car so they are looking directly ahead.
Reduce Sensory Input
Steer clear of books, games, and movies during your road trip, as they also contribute to travel sickness in children. Instead, you can play games that involve them looking out of the car window instead of activities that require them to look down.
Time Your Travel Right
If your road trip goal is getting to the destination than sightseeing, you should start your trip late at night. This can also be very early in the morning or when your kids usually have their naps. This will allow you to cover a good portion of the trip as the kid sleeps.
Choose Bland Foods Over Spicy Or Foods
If your child needs to eat before you begin your trip or will be snacking along the way, then they should eat bland, easy-to-digest snacks that will not upset their stomach. Avoid sugared snacks and drinks as they can be harder on the stomach prompting stomach upsets which can trigger motion sickness in kids.
Dry cereal, non-spicy crackers or toast, and plain snack bars are safer choices as they are easy to digest. And if you plan to travel after meals, give your kid time to digest their food before moving again.
Avoid Winding Roads
Although sometimes it can be unavoidable, if there’s a way to reach your destination taking a straighter road rather than a winding, mountainous route, this may help your motion sickness sufferer.
If there’s no option, only drive short stints at a time. Pull over regularly when its safe, at viewing points, for example, and have them get out of the car and focus on the horizon before continuing your journey.
Think About What Your Child Can See From Their Car Seat
With younger tots who many not be looking out the windows yet, do you have things hanging in the car that moves when going around bends etc? The moving objects can make it difficult for your child to focus and cope with the vehicle’s motion. You can instead have more static objects for your baby to look at.
Let Your Child Keep Their Head Still
Have your kid press their head into a headrest. This will help keep their head still and concentrate. Your kid keeping their head still will also allow them to look at one place far away, such as the horizon. The head should be well-supported in the car seat.
Clothe Your Kids In Cool Clothing
Feeling overheated can exacerbate the nausea. Choose cool clothing that can be stripped down in layers when they are feeling overheated.
Ask Your Doctor If It’s OK To Give An Over-The-Counter Medicine
Although opting for medication is not the best, it sometimes becomes inevitable. The key is ensuring you follow the dosing directions and use medications only as needed.
Give the medication to your kid about an hour before travel begins so it has time to begin working. Read the product label carefully to help you determine the right dose and be prepared for side effects like drowsiness (not great if you have activities you are stopping for en route or at your destination)
Popular brands include dimenhydrinate (Gravol) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Tummy drops are another organic over-the-counter solution that won’t leave your child feeling groggy.
Not that motion sickness patches are not recommended for children under 12(1).
Try Essential Oils
Many parents swear by the benefits of using essential oils in the treatment of nausea caused by motion sickness. Blends that include chamomile, spearmint and ginger are all known to support digestive regulatory and can bring relief to motion sickness sufferers.
You can roll them on your child’s wrists or through the use of an inhaler as directed.
Use Acupressure Bands
Another method that is safe to try with children is acupressure bands. They go on your child’s wrist and apply pressure to the P6 joint, just below the wrist. This stimulates the median nerve, interrupting the signaling between your brain and belly that say’s I’m feeling sick(2).
They need to be a snug fit so look for motion sickness bands specifically made for a child’s small wrist.
If you have tried all the above preventive measures and nothing seems to work, you should remove your kid from the car and have them lie down on their back for a few minutes. You can dampen a cloth and place it on their forehead, which also helps prevent and heal motion sickness for toddlers.
Sometimes it is unavoidable that your child will be unwell, resulting in a stinking car. How do you get rid of the smell of sick from the car?
1. Try to clean up the sick from the car as quickly as possible before it has time to soak into the car upholstery
You can do this by wiping the interior of the car, thus removing stains that might produce odor. Using a soft cleaning cloth, dampen it with an all-purpose cleaning spray and wipe down where the vomit might have come into contact. You will need to be keen while doing this so that you do not miss any spot that might have been spilled and now produces the odor.
If your car seats are leather, use an appropriate leather cleaner, but you can also vacuum or shampoo if you are not dealing with leather.
2. Use baking soda directly on the area
Sprinkle the baking soda all over the affected area and leave for ten minutes to soak up. Baking soda is high in alkaline, so it helps to break down the acids in the sick and removes unpleasant odors.
After you have let the baking soda sit for 4-5 hours, you can use a regular vacuum cleaner to vacuum up the baking soda.
Always sprinkle the baking soda on dry surfaces, as it forms tough to remove paste when sprinkled on wet, stained surfaces.
3. Get a clean cloth, soak it in white vinegar, and scrub where the sick stain is
The white vinegar will react with the baking soda, and this will help to work off the smell.
Remember, when applying vinegar to remove the odor in your car, steer clear from anything electrical, like the window buttons.
4. Continue to repeat the above steps until you have eliminated the smell
It might take 2-3 times, depending on the extent of the sick. You can also use activated charcoal, as it is a natural way to eliminate the horrible smell in a car. Get charcoal bags or a chunk of charcoal and leave it in the car for a few days. Remember that the more charcoal you use, the quicker it will eliminate foul odor in the car.
5. After you have tried all the above methods and the smell of sick still prevails
You should take it for professional cleaning. Professional cleaners use heavy-duty products, cleaners, and tools to clean your car thoroughly.
More Road Trip Tips With Kids
We hope that this family travel guide helps you deal with the unpleasantness of motion sickness in children should it strike during your next family road trip.
You may also want to check out our guides to:
- Road Tripping With A Toddler – A survival guide to travelling long distances with tots in your car.
- 14 Essentials For Kids On A Road Trip – Don’t leave home without considering these essential items for your children on a road trip
- How to Road Trip With a Puppy – making sure your furry kids are happy on the road, too!
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