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My family and I joined the masses on the open road to take a family road trip from Washington, DC, to Nashville, Tennessee, which takes 10-plus hours. We anticipated making frequent stops to eat and stretch our legs. But we quickly discovered that our four-year-old gets carsick. Our daughter got nauseous and vomited about 30 minutes are each meal while we were on the road. We made some adjustments for our return trip home that reduced nausea and discomfort.
[Updated December 2022]
What is car sickness?
Car sickness is a type of motion sickness that occurs when the brain senses movement by getting signals from your inner ears, eyes, muscles, and joints. When the signals are conflicting, like when you’re stationary in a car, but your eyes see movement, you can get motion sickness. This most commonly affects children from two to 12 years old.
What are the symptoms of car sickness?
Some symptoms of motion sickness are:
- Cold Sweats
- Pale and clammy skin
Ten Tips to Avoid Car Sickness in Kids
Taking a road trip with kids requires planning but if any of your kiddos suffer from car sickness you have to do a lot more planning. to car sickness, here are a few strategies to help alleviate symptoms:
1. Travel during bedtime
If you can, hit the road at night or early in the morning. On our return drive home, we left at 4 am and Austen slept a good portion of the way home.
2. Stop Frequently
If you can’t travel during bedtime, plan to make a lot of stops along the way.
3 Change Positions
Position your child’s car or booster seat in the middle row, so they can have a clear, unobstructed view out of the front window. You can also encourage your child to lay down, which may help reduce symptoms.
4. Have your Child Eat Small Bland Meals
Avoid rich and greasy foods. Small bland snacks like pretzels and small drinks of water really helped.
5. Put the Screens and Books Away
We discovered that looking at a tablet while the car was in motion only exasperated Austen’s motion sickness. Have your child look out of the window or play a car game. We played a game where we would yell out when we saw a red car on the road.
6. Open a Window
Fresh air can also help to prevent car sickness.
7. Apply Pressure
We haven’t tried this yet, but next time we will use acupressure bands to see if they help. If you don’t have an acupressure band, you can apply light pressure to the inside of the child’s wrist to help eliminate motion sickness.
8. Try Quesy Pops
These are candies that come in an assortment of flavors, and they are made with ingredients to help calm the stomach.
9. Watch for Symptoms
If your child tells you or indicates that they are feeling sick, open a window or turn an air condition vent toward their face.
10. Use Over the Counter Medication
Finally, Be Prepared
Even with taking precautions, car sickness might still be inevitable for some kids. So it’s best to be prepared. Pack a barf bag or bucket, and towelettes or other wet wipes for the little ones, and disinfectant wipes to clean up any spillage in the car. Always keep a full change of clothes in the car. I usually pack a full set of clothes in each kid’s book bag.
If you’re ready to start planning your next family adventure, the following articles will be helpful:
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