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Dealing with Motion Sickness in Your Kids

Is there anything worse than driving down the road with a car full of kids and all the sudden you hear that horrible retching and “splat!” from behind you?

While it’s difficult to alleviate car sickness and motion sickness completely, there are steps you can take to help manage it.

Understanding motion sickness

Car sickness is a type ofmotion sickness, which also includes seasickness and airsickness, and it affects almost 60% of children when traveling by car or plane.


According toMayo Clinic, “Motion sickness occurs when the brain receives conflicting information from the inner ears, eyes, and nerves in the joints and muscles.” This is why a child in the backseat, with less visibility to the road, is more likely to experience car sickness than a child sitting up front.


Typically motion sickness causes nausea and vomiting, but it can also trigger yawning, restlessness, drowsiness, headache and sweating.

Preventing motion sickness

When traveling by plane, try to choose seats over the wings of the aircraft. This position provides more air stability and is less susceptible to motion.


When traveling by car, your child should avoid reading, playing video games, and watching movies. Instead, encourage them to look out the window as much as possible. Play games that involve looking outside, like counting the number of red cars that drive by, or finding each letter of the alphabet in order on license plates. 


Playing games can also help to distract them from any motion sickness symptoms that pop up. Other ways to keep them preoccupied (and pass the time!) include talking with them, singing songs, making up rhymes and listening to music.


In addition, make sure you have adequate air flow in your vehicle. Feeling hot and stuffy in the backseat can exacerbate car sickness. 


Dehydration can also make nausea worse, so be sure to keep your kids hydrated with healthy drinks like milk and juice, and avoid caffeinated beverages.

Treating motion sickness

Dramamine and Benadryl can both help prevent motion sickness, but they may also make your child drowsy. For that reason, you may choose to wait and see if your child starts to experience symptoms before administering. The impact won’t be instant, but the medications can still offer relief even after symptoms have started to show. 


For a more natural remedy, lavender and peppermint essential oils have been known to help reduce nausea. 


Of course, if you are headed somewhere and they start to feel sick, stop the car to let your child out for a breath of fresh air. They may also want to lie back for a moment to settle. Placing a cool cloth or water bottle against their forehead will also help, if you have access. 


The good news is, past the age of around 10-12, susceptibility to motion sickness tends to lessen. While some children will carry a sensitivity to motion into their adulthood, it because easier to manage as they learn how to recognize the signs and take preventive measures.