• Tips to Prevent Kids from Getting Car Sick

two children in a car with beach toys and vacation items packed in the back

Packing up the kids for a road trip can be difficult. Making sure they are stocked with things to do to keep them occupied can be a tough battle on its own. If car sickness, a common type of motion sickness, is thrown into the equation, road trips can be even more of a struggle.

“Car sickness occurs when the brain receives mismatching information from the ears, eyes and nerves in the extremities,” says Jodi Breska, M.D., family physician at Mayo Clinic Health System. “The results of this sensation are upset stomach, fatigue and, of course, vomiting.” Dr. Breska says this experience is fairly common for children ages 2 to 12.

Although the reasons children are so prone to car sickness are still unexplained, Dr. Breska offers some suggestions that may help you keep your child from getting car sick on your next trip:

  • Cut down on sensory input. Loading up your kids with movies and books during a road trip may not be the best thing for them, especially if they are easily car sick. Encourage them to focus on things outside the vehicle instead.
  • Offer distractions. Talking, listening to music and singing songs with your child could serve as a good distraction during a car trip.
  • Provide adequate air ventilation. Make sure the car is free of odors and there is a decent amount of ventilation.
  • Be careful with snacks. Greasy and spicy foods are not going to be good for your child before a car trip. If the trip is going to be long, feed your child a small, bland snack before you leave.
  • Try medication. If your child is age 2 or older, ask your child’s health care provider about over-the-counter medications available for car sickness. Dimenhydrinate is available for children ages 2 and older, and diphenhydramine is available for children ages 6 and older. Drowsiness is a common side effect of these drugs.

“If you follow these suggestions and your child is still experiencing car sickness, ask your child’s health care provider about other options. Identifying car sickness triggers can aid in making difficult car trips a thing of the past,” says Dr. Breska.

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