My sister often drives the kids in the car to help them go to sleep, but I started thinking today – what about kids who get carsick? I knew plenty of those types of children growing up – especially from school carpool!
With summer ending – families are about to take their last summer vacation this Labor Day. Loading up the minivan and heading out on the road – but what to do if your kid gets motion sickness? Eeks!
What is motion sickness, anyway?
Essentially, motion sickness results from a conflict between the eye and ear: the inner ears detect that the car is moving, but the eyes– focused within the car– do not. The brain gets conflicting signals, and nausea results.
According to WebMD.com: “Motion sickness occurs when the inner ear, the eyes, and other areas of the body that detect motion send conflicting messages to the brain. One part of your balance-sensing system (your inner ear, vision, and sensory nerves that help you keep your balance) may indicate that your body is moving, while the other parts do not sense motion. For example, if you are in the cabin of a moving ship, your inner ear may sense the motion of big waves, but your eyes don’t see any movement. This leads to a conflict between the senses and results in motion sickness.”
Usually the child will first complain that he or she feels cautious and queasy — allowing some time to fix the situation before actual vomiting starts.
Prevention is key!
Here are some quick tips that should help “do the trick” and prevent any mishaps in the car:
- Encourage your child to focus on a distant point outside the car
- Play car games like “I Spy” that get the child to look outside
- Bring along books on CD’s so your child can listen while looking out the window
- Limit activities such as reading or playing hand-held video games where the eyes stay focused within the car
- For toddlers in car-seats, position the seat so that the child can see outside
2. Avoid Rear Seats
- Many families have mini-vans, and kids seem to feel the van’s motion more in the rear seat
3. Fresh Air
- A child on the verge of queasiness may feel better if the window’s open
- Avoid strong-smelling foods or snacks
- Do not overdress your child – if you notice they may not be feeling well, strip off a layer of clothing to keep them cooler
4. Settle the stomach
- A child fighting queasiness may feel better if he/she munches on a dry cracker
- An empty stomach is not best for avoiding motion sickness
- Avoid greasy and hard-to-digest food – no MacDonald’s on the road!
5. Smooth Driving
- The less braking and swaying the better
- Make sure your suspension in the car is in good shape because bad suspension equals a bumpy ride
6. Make FREQUENT STOPS!
- Plan enough time on your trip to stop and let your child(ren) get out of the car
Stop at free playrooms of fast-food restaurants, for picnics, or at rest areas and toss a Frisbee or ball… and the more stops you make, the less you’ll have to deal with fidgety kids and “are we there yet?” Fortunately, infants seldom get motion sickness. Toddlers and preschool ages are most susceptible.
Remember: it’s in everyone’s interests to stop the car before the child actually gets sick!
7. Watch for early signs of motion sickness
- Make sure to listen, if your child says he’s feeling sick or dizzy. Also, pay attention if she loses her appetite, or appears pale or sweaty.
Last but not least – prepare, prepare, prepare. For more comfort’s sake have a mini hygiene pack on hand packed with wipes, sanitary bags etc. – things to help clean up “little accidents,” or help refresh your kids to help them to feel better. It is also good when you are travelling for the holidays to have clothes on standby – try to include face washers, wipes, a hairbrush and little things that help keep them feeling refreshed.