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Travel Sickness in Children: Yes, You Can Prevent It!

You plan for your family’s day out at the beach meticulously, put together a picnic, get your kids on the car and just about when are you are about to pat yourself in the back for a job well begun, you hear the all-familiar groan. Before you have even hit the highway, one of the kids is sick.  Not a perfect day for a mom!

Motion sickness usually happens when the inner ear identifies motion while riding a car/bus/boat and it is conflicted by information from the eyes and the joints (they identify the body to be stationary.)

It can be terrible for a child to experience travel sickness, and it takes the fun out of the travel for the entire family as well. Also, it’s an unsettling sight for any parent to see their kid miserable and throwing up. Most children between two and twelve experience travel sickness, but it is still something that can be dealt with- with a little bit of preparation and planning from your side.

Here are some tried and tested ways to deal with your child’s travel sickness.

  • Make the journey interesting: Encourage the child to look out of the front and the rear windows (and never the side windows), you could even play a game around it! Keep the child occupied always – create an interesting conversation, play road-trip games like counting trucks, sing songs or listen to music that your kid loves.
  • Make your child comfortable: Make sure that your child is seated in the most comfortable position where he or she does not experience excessive or rough movement, ideally with a view out of the front or back windows and never the side windows. If your child rides in a rear facing seat, ask your car dealership about making the seating more comfortable. Some new vehicles already include this option by default! Ensure adequate ventilation through open windows or air-conditioning so that the child doesn’t feel stuffy.
  • Take Breaks: Take a break as soon as you notice your child develop car sickness, stop the car and let your child take a walk around. Getting your child to lie on his or her back with eyes closed and placing a wet cloth on the forehead also helps.
  • No reading or playing games on the phone: Discourage reading and playing games on the phone or the tablet as such activities that requires the child to focus its eyes are prone to cause sickness. It might also be a good idea to travel while your child is taking a nap.
  • Plan the meals carefully: If it is a short trip, you could try to keep the meal at the end of the trip. On a longish trip, always make sure that your child has a light snack like fresh fruit or crackers and nothing heavy or greasy. Ginger is known to be effective against travel sickness, it is always a good idea to keep some ginger cookies or ginger candies with you.
  • Be prepared: Keep paper bags, plastic bags, fresh wipes, towels, hand sanitizer and enough water ready so that you can act fast if a kid vomits. In the event of a child throwing up, take a long break to make the child comfortable and rid the car of the mess and the odour before you hit the road again. Acupressure bands can help prevent travel sickness by activating pressure points on your child’s wrist. Keeping a few with you would be good idea!
  • Get your doctor’s help: If all these precautions fail and your child keeps getting sick during every trip, it might be a good idea to consult your doctor. Rest assured that most kids wouldn’t need any medication to get over travel sickness, it’s just a rite of passage.

There is no better way to get over travel sickness than getting used to it. It is often the anxiety of travel sickness that causes it. It is therefore very important to give your child confidence; tell your child that it is okay and that even you had travel sickness as a child and you got over it as you got older.