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Why kids get carsick – and what to do

Carsickness is common in children, which is no surprise given that young kids can't see past the seats in front of them.

Does your child suffer motion sickness? Here’s how you can make long trips easier for you and your child.

If your child gets car sick every time you travel, you understand how disruptive motion sickness can be. Motion sickness is most typically noticed in children aged six to 12 but can affect kids of all ages. Even babies are susceptible to the sensation.

What causes motion sickness?

Motion sickness ensues when the brain receives contradictory information from the joints and muscles’ inner ears, eyes, and nerves.

Consider a little child sitting low in the rear seat of a car with no view out the window – or an older child reading a book in the car. The inner ear of your child will detect motion, but their eyes and body will not. As a result, your child may experience an upset stomach, dizziness, nausea, cold sweat, or vomiting.

It is unclear why some youngsters are more susceptible to motion sickness than others. While most newborns and teens appear to be unaffected, children aged two to 12 appear more vulnerable.

Symptoms of motion sickness in children

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Mild stomach ache

How to limit car sickness in children

You could try the following measures to prevent car sickness in children:

  • Limit your child’s sensory input: Encourage your child to gaze about the car rather than at books, games, or screens.
  • Plan your pre-trip meals carefully: Do not feed your child a substantial meal right before or during car travel. If the trip is going to be long or your child needs to eat, give them a little bland snack before you go, such as dry crackers and a small drink.
  • Allow for adequate ventilation: Adequate air ventilation may aid in the prevention of motion sickness.
  • Keep a stock of plastic bags in an easy-to-reach location in case of vomiting.
  • Provide distractions: If your child is prone to motion sickness, consider diverting them by talking, listening to music, or singing songs during car rides.
  • Make use of medication: Ask your child’s doctor about using over-the-counter medications to prevent car sickness if you’re going on a road trip.
  • If your child develops car sickness, pull over as soon as possible and allow them to get out and walk around. Applying a cool towel to your child’s brow may also be beneficial.

If these suggestions do not help, or if your child’s car sickness makes travel difficult, consult with their doctor about other options available.

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