Does your toddler get sick when travelling in the car? If so, it’s most likely motion sickness. Although it’s quite common, that doesn’t stop you from worrying every time your little one is sick.
To ease your worries, here you’ll discover everything you need to know about toddler car sickness. From what it is, to why it occurs and how you can deal with it, we’ve got you covered! Of course, if nothing works and the motion sickness is severe, you should seek medical advice from your GP or pediatrician.
What Is Motion Sickness?
Motion sickness is a temporary form of nausea, brought on by travelling in a vehicle. It can occur at any age, but typically starts in children as young as two years old. It can occur in any type of vehicle, whether it be a car, train, plane or boat and vary in severity.
It can come as a shock when your toddler first starts experiencing motion sickness. They may have been perfectly fine travelling in the car before. In fact, it’s common for parents to take their babies for short car rides to comfort them and ease them to sleep. However, as mentioned above, car sickness doesn’t usually start until a child turns two years of age, so that’s why it may seem like it’s been brought on suddenly.
Motion sickness can lead to either just nausea, or actual vomiting.
What Causes It?
Some toddlers are more likely to develop car sickness as they’re naturally more sensitive towards the brain’s motion response. This means, their brain is receiving completely different signals from the parts of their body which are used to sense motion. These include the inner ears, eyes, joints and nerves.
Think of it like this – If your toddler is sitting playing with a toy, it signals to the brain that they aren’t in motion. However, other parts of the body will be sensing the motion of the car, signaling to the brain that they are in motion. It’s the conflicting signals sent to the brain which trigger nausea.
It’s also worth noting that if your toddler is excited or stressed, it can also make the motion sickness worse. The good news is, although it won’t provide much comfort now, most toddlers do grow out of motion sickness so it is usually a temporary problem.
Can It Be Prevented?
Unfortunately, car sickness in toddlers isn’t easy to prevent. Medications are usually required, but they’re generally unsafe for children under two years of age. So, if your toddler is three, you may be able to use medication. However, it’s highly advisable to seek advice from your doctor or pediatrician before giving your toddler any medications.
There are a few other things you could try to reduce the likelihood of motion sickness developing. These include:
- Ensuring they eat something a couple of hours before traveling
- Aromatherapy oils
While you should avoid giving them anything to eat or drink immediately before or after travelling in the car, it can help to ensure they eat something a couple of hours prior to travelling. This can help to settle the stomach somewhat.
If your car doesn’t have airbags installed in the front passenger seat, you could also try having your toddler in front with you, if this is legally allowed in your area. Just be sure to strap them into their car seat to ensure you’re sticking to the law! The front passenger seat position will enable your toddler to see bends and corners better, helping to keep the balance system stabilized.
Finally, aromatherapy oils may work, but you will need to be careful they’re suitable for use for young children. Some experts advise using a little peppermint oil massaged into the chest prior to travelling. However, we do recommend talking to your toddler’s healthcare provider before using any aromatherapy oils as a potential solution.
Best Ways To Deal With Toddler Car Sickness
While preventing toddler car sickness isn’t easy, there are ways you can deal with it. You’ll discover some of the best tried and tested methods below.
Acupressure Bracelets – Although these won’t work in every case, many parents have found acupressure bracelets really useful. They feature an embedded plastic hard ball and are designed to place pressure onto a specific point on your wrist. This supposedly helps to relieve nausea.
As they’re fairly cheap, it’s worth giving these a go as many parents do swear by them. Just make sure you’re buying one in a child’s size.
Encourage Sleep – If you’re going to be going on a long car journey, it could be worth encouraging your toddler to sleep. If they’re asleep, they’re not going to feel nauseated and it can make the journey so much more relaxing!
Phenergan – Antihistamines such as Phenergan can be safe for toddlers as young as two, but again check with your doctor first. This is a really common medication used to treat motion sickness in children. However, it can make them feel really drowsy, so you will need to keep this in mind.
Make Sure There’s Plenty Of Air – Fresh air can ease nausea, so if they start to experience motion sickness, make sure the windows are down and fresh air can circulate. Alternatively, you can have the air conditioning on, gently blowing onto your toddler.
Distraction – If all else fails, distraction can be your best friend! Motion sickness is sometimes just in the mind. So, if you can distract them by singing together or even just chatting, you may find that works temporarily.
These are just some of the great tips you can try out to ease your toddler’s car sickness. It’s no fun watching your little one suffer, but the tips above should help to at least minimize the nausea if nothing else. Remember, before giving your toddler any medications or alternative treatments, it’s important to talk it through with their doctor or pediatrician.
Additional Reading: 10 Top Tips To Survive Car Journeys With A Toddler
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or licensed medical professional before making any medical decisions.