Does Your Child Get Carsick? Here’s What You Should Do

Motion sickness is a common condition that causes one of your balance-sensing body parts (i.e. ears, eyes, sensory nerves, etc.) to feel movement while the other parts do not. These mixed signals can cause a number of symptoms, including nausea, fatigue, dizziness, vomiting, and a general feeling of not being healthy, all of which fall under the “motion sickness” category. 

If you’ve ever experienced motion sickness, you know first-hand that it can be incredibly uncomfortable and debilitating. As such, motion sickness is usually the last thing you’d want your child to experience. If your child does show signs of motion sickness, it’s likely they are doing so between the ages of 2 and 12. The symptoms of motion sickness vary depending on a child’s age.

For example, dizziness is generally the main symptom of motion sickness for children under the age of 6. On the other hand, children over the age of 12 typically develop nausea or a mild stomach ache as their primary symptom.

Prevalence of Motion Sickness

The main cause of motion sickness is a sensitive inner ear, the part of the ear’s anatomy that helps maintain balance. According to Seattle Children’s Hospital, motion sickness can develop in the following situations:

  • As a car passenger driving on winding roads, 25% of people will develop motion sickness symptoms.
  • Under extreme conditions, such as boating on the high seas, over 90% of people will experience motion sickness.
  • Did you know? Motion sickness is strongly genetic. In fact, if one parent suffers from the condition, there is a 50% chance the children will have it as well. 

It’s important to note that motion sickness is not a mental or emotional ailment, which means cognitive therapies cannot make this condition go away. We bring this up because there is a common misconception that motion sickness can be remedied through “will power.” This is not true – only conservative techniques and some medications can help prevent and relieve motion sickness.     

Motion Sickness Care Advice 

There are a few simple remedies you can employ to prevent and alleviate symptoms related to motion sickness. To prevent motion sickness from occurring, here are a few self-care tips that may help: 

  • Discourage reading or watching movies during travel
  • Crack open a window for fresh air, whenever possible
  • Pack light snacks, like crackers and water, to keep nausea at bay
  • Keep a stock of plastic bags in an easy-to-reach location in case of vomiting
  • If your child is old enough, have him or her sit in the front seat so they’re looking out the front window. If they haven’t met the age or weight requirements for the front seat, have them sit in the middle back seat. Looking out the front window will help limit motion sickness, as the side windows can cause dizziness.

If your child has already gotten sick from the car or boat ride, here are a few ways you can reduce their discomfort: 

  • Have them lie down immediately after their travel
  • Encourage small sips of water during and after the car or boat ride
  • If your child has thrown up, place an ice pack on his or her forehead. The colder temperatures will help alleviate headaches and fever common with vomiting.

When to Visit Good Night Pediatrics

If your child’s symptoms become worse or do not go away after 8 hours, call or visit a Good Night Pediatrics clinic immediately. These symptoms could indicate a serious condition or health problem that requires immediate medical attention. For more information, please visit our Locations page to review our clinic hours and the best phone number to reach our team. We would be happy to answer questions or concerns you may have!

The advice and information contained in this article are for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.