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How to Prevent Toddler Motion Sickness for Hassle Free Drive

Traveling with kids is already tough but add motion sickness into the mix and the entire situation becomes infinitely worse. Motion sickness is not fun for adults and it is definitely not fun for kids. They are not sure what they are dealing with, they don’t understand it and all they want is stop feeling dizzy, nauseous and just unwell. A severe case will make you want to turn around and go back home. This is now how you want a trip to start. There is great news! There are many super easy and convenient ways you can prevent, ease and diminish motion sickness. All it takes is some planning prior to your trip.

There are two main ways that you can prevent and/or lessen motion sickness; one is with home remedies and another is with medicine. You may want to test one way first to see if it does the trick, or you may want to combine different ways for the best result. They key is to keep on trying and not give up. There is not one solution that works for everyone as every person reacts to different remedies differently.

Motion sickness is actually quite common in both adults and children so it’s a bonus to know how to prevent getting “car sick”. Although children under two years old are said to be resistant to motion sickness, this “advantage” peaks at around 10-12 years of age and then they are as prone as everyone else. We have, however, seen toddlers get car sick when eating while driving. You will notice that motion sickness in children usually occurs during travel in a car, train or airplane, but it can also occur on park rides or during virtual reality games. The main reason why motion sickness occurs is when it receives conflicting messages: the inner ear, which manages balance, and eyes, which perceive motion, don’t match with how you’re feeling. When you ride in a vehicle mixed signals are sent to the inner ear while your eyes are seeing something conflicting, and this then results in confusion amongst your senses. For example, if your child is playing a game or reading a book, his or her eyes are completely focused on one object that is one certain distance away, and this sends a signal of stillness to the brain. During motion, the inner ear picks up on a vehicle’s motion and thus the brain gets confused when different signals are sent from the ear and eye. Now your child feels motion sick, their belly hurts, and they want to vomit.

There are some very simple preventive measures that can be used to help reduce the likelihood of motion sickness. Let’s discuss them in detail.

Reduce sensory input

Ask your children to look outside the car instead of immersing themselves in books, games or movies to prevent feeling nauseous. Not the funnest if they were looking forward to something, but it opens up seeing new things outdoors! Looking at and allowing your eyes to focus on one point makes a huge difference. The best way to reduce motion sickness is to get your child to fall asleep. Also, bright light such as sunlight and glare can make nausea worse so try covering the windows and have sunglasses and hats ready.

Prior-trip meals must be carefully planned

What you eat affects drastically impacts how you feel. You need to make sure that your child avoids any spicy or greasy food items or even any large meals right before your travel or during travel. If you are on a long journey, then giving them small snacks – like crackers and a drink – before you leave is a good bet. Bland items are a great way to prep your belly for motion.  If you are traveling for a short period of time, it is better to avoid food completely.

Try ginger candies. Hard ginger is known to provide relief from nausea associated with motion sickness. Ginger candies come in many different sizes, textures and brands. Pick one that you think your family would enjoy and settle those tummies down. This is a quick and very safe way to calm a motion sick tummy. Always keep ginger candies on hand because you never know when you will need them. There has been a lot of research done on ginger and its advantages that prove that it is an effective treatment for motion sickness. You can look for snacks containing ginger or even peppermint – both could prove to be a big help! If a hard candy is not your thing or you don’t want to give it to a small child, there are plenty of different snacks available that could be used instead. Try them out, experiment and see which one works for your child. You might be surprised at how well some of these work.

Distract them

Do everything you can to distract your child from constantly talking about how sick they feel and how much they want to vomit. The more they talk about it, the more motion sick they will feel. Distract them instead with talking about something they like, listen to and sing songs, play a game; and take their mind off the topic.

Air ventilation; Cool air

Fresh air is extremely important. It helps to prevent motion sickness so open up your car windows and feel the breeze, or at least crack the window a little regardless. This will help especially if there are any strong odors lingering around. Cool air is also much better than warm air so keep your car cooled off if possible as warm air exasperates feelings of motion sickness and always remember that the back seat temperature may be different than what you feel in the front seat.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy has shown to help! Scents like mint and lavender have proved to be pretty effective as anti-nausea agents. There are many more essential oils that can help you prevent motion sickness so look them up, research and see what other parents tried. Don’t forget about handy essential oil rollers that can easily be used without a mess to roll onto wrists or oil sprays that can be spritzed while traveling.

Acupressure

Another tool to help with motion sickness is an acupressure band. There are several different brands available and many are on drugstore shelves. These bands work by putting pressure on the wrist. Although research has not proved its effectiveness in preventing motion sickness, many people have found these to be a very beneficial preventative measure. These are pretty inexpensive so they may be worth a try, especially if you are not interested in giving your kids medicine. The little ones may think it’s very cool to have a “bracelet” on for their trip!

Take a walk outside

If you or your child start to feel sick, stop if possible. Allow yourself and your child some time outside to rebalance all those signals. Fresh air is a sure way to help motion sickness. If that is not possible, then try to get your child to lie down on his or her back for a few minutes to relax; sometimes the stress and anxiety of feeling motion sickness just makes everything worse. It may also help to place a cool cloth on your child’s forehead. Breathing helps so much too. Remind your children to take several deep breaths and to focus on them, making sure they fill and empty their lungs.

Medication

If none of the above methods work you can try medication. If you are going away for a longer trip and you know your child becomes motion sick, it may be a good idea to ask your doctor for advice before you leave. There are different medicines available over the counter and two of the most popular ones is Dramamine and Benadryl. Each one of these works in a different way and for different aged kids so make sure to educate yourself first before deciding what you’ll allow your child to take. These most effective if taken at least an hour before the trip starts. Again, make sure you talk to your child’s doctor about any medication you want to administer to your child.

We hope that you find some of these remedies useful and may these tips help you prevent motion sickness on your next trip. Remember that your child does not have to be uncomfortable. There are many remedies that you can try out and see if they work. You may not figure it out right away, but the right one for you is out there.

Need a little extra safe cozy on your next trip? Remember to check out our car seat ponchos!

Barbara Kent

Basia, mom to two extremely lively children and a German Shepherd named Max, is wife to an Army Engineer officer. She herself is a retired army officer and has recently resided in Alaska, Hawaii and now Virginia. She loves sewing and embroidery, CrossFit, good food and wine.
Barbara Kent

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