How to help kids with motion sickness

Posted by: Cal on 29/08/2014

Category: General

After hours of packing and organising a family holiday road trip, it is difficult to see your children struggling with car sickness. If you are only half an hour into a multi-hour trip, it can be hard to navigate your way along the journey without a mishap.

However, there are tried and tested ways to reduce, prevent and help children with car sickness.

How do children get car sickness on long journeys?

It could be surprising to see your children feel unwell during a trip because on the way to school or to the shops they are fine. On a road trip though, there is excitement and a sense of the unknown that is lacking on a normal day.

Combine this with children reading or concentrating on a task, and they can easily experience car sickness. It can also be caused by children being unable to see outside the window for an extended length of time.

According to the Mayo Clinic, motion sickness is caused by the child's inner ear sensing motion but their eyes or body not. This imbalance can cause a range of symptoms including an upset stomach, cold sweat, fatigue or even vomiting.

So what can you do to help?

Vehicle maintenance

One of the main problems that can caused this imbalance is poorly maintained car tyres. On a long road trip, badly aligned and balanced tyres can shake and create vibrations in the vehicle.

As children are usually sitting in the back seat, any problems in the rear two tyres will affect them the most. As well as this, ensure the tyres are inflated to the recommended pressure as this can make the journey smoother for all occupants.

Clean, fresh air

A well ventilated vehicle could also assist children who are struggling with car sickness. Ensure that some windows are down to allow clean and fresh air to circulate around the car to clear out any strong odours.

However, make sure the air conditioning is off during this period as it can dry out the atmosphere.

As well as this, take the opportunity to stop regularly for a walk around outside. This will burn some of their energy off and could stop the symptoms of car sickness. You could also offer your child to lie down on the grass for a time and you can place a cool cloth on their forehead.

Offer distractions

Parents hold an important key when it comes to preventing the affects of motion sickness. If your child is prone to this, the power of distraction could cause them to 'forget' about being sick and begin to feel better.

Encourage them to talk with you about random topics or listen and sing songs. Once their mind is off feeling poorly, they can begin to enjoy the journey.

It is also suggested that parents make children look at objects, such as forests and beaches, outside the vehicle. If their eyes are trying to concentrate on books, games or movies, they are more susceptible to motion sickness.

This doesn't mean you can't have a break by introducing these tasks, but they should be used in short periods. 

Plain food

Planning meals on a family holiday road trip can be a logistic nightmare, but if you take into account the possibility of motion sickness, it becomes a lot easier.

Avoid spicy, greasy or even large meals prior to car journeys as this can contribute to the symptoms of car sickness.

The best foods to give children on long car rides are dry crackers, fruit and small drinks of water. It is also best to avoid giving your children food while driving as the action of eating can onset symptoms.