How To Cope With Your Child’s Car Sickness

At Westchester Health, an issue that a lot of people don’t think about but one that causes a lot of problems is car sickness. Car sickness is the most common form of motion sickness in children, but stress, excitement and/or the fear of vomiting also can set it off. To help parents deal with this troubling condition, Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician in our Westchester Health Pediatrics group, has written a great blog on the subject.

5 ways you can help your child cope with car sickness


Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

If your child starts to develop the symptoms of motion sickness, the best approach is to stop the activity that is causing the problem, when possible. Obviously, on a bumpy plane, there’s not much you can do to stop the motion.

  • If it occurs in the car, stop as soon as safely possible and let your child get out and walk around. If you are on a long car trip, you may have to make frequent short stops, but trust us, it will be worth it in the long run. If the condition develops on a swing or merry-go-round, stop the motion and take your child off the equipment.
  • If your child has not eaten for three hours, give him/her a light snack before the trip. This also holds true for a boat or plane ride. The snack relieves hunger pangs, which seem to add to the symptoms.
  • Try to focus your child’s attention on something other than the queasy feeling. Try listening to the radio, singing or talking.
  • Have your child look at things outside the car, not at books or games. Playing the “license plate game” or some other activity that requires looking outside of the car often helps.
  • Stop the car and have your child lie on his/her back for a few minutes with eyes closed. A cool cloth on the forehead also tends to lessen the symptoms.

Medications can help, too

If you are going on a trip (car, plane or boat) and your child has had motion sickness before, you may want to give him/her medication before you board to prevent problems. Some are available without a prescription, but ask your pediatrician before using them because they often cause side effects, such as drowsiness (when you get to your destination, your child might be too sleepy to enjoy it), dry mouth/nose or blurred vision.

When to call a doctor

If your child has symptoms of motion sickness when he/she is not involved with a movement activity—particularly accompanied by a headache or with difficulty hearing, seeing, walking or talking—tell your pediatrician about it. These may be symptoms of problems other than motion sickness.

Wondering what you can do about your child’s car sickness? Come see us, we can help.

If you’d like guidance for preventing, or at least dealing with, your child’s motion sickness, please make an appointment with Westchester Health. One of our pediatricians will examine your child to rule out any physical causes, listen to the symptoms, answer your questions and offer tips and advice so that hopefully, you and your child can actually enjoy taking trips without getting sick. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

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To read Dr. Adler’s blog in full, click here.

by Blog