Motion sickness in kids

Have you ever been sick on a boat or during a car ride? If so, you know how uncomfortable motion sickness can be. Le Bonheur Pediatrician Elisha McCoy, MD, shares some helpful tips below for families whose children experience motion sickness.

What causes motion sickness?

Motion sickness occurs when the brain receives mixed signals from the motion-sensing parts of the body (i.e., inner ear, eyes, extremities). It most commonly occurs in children ages 2 to 12 years and can occur during travel in a car, boat, plane or even on amusement park rides. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, cold sweats, pale skin and headaches. Fortunately, most children outgrow motion sickness, but not all.

How can you prevent motion sickness?

Prevention (non-medical):

  • Don’t allow them to read or watch movies, as this will result in “mixed” signals to the brain
  • Have your child look out the window, especially toward the horizon (non-moving object)
  • Give your child a small meal before travel, as a full or empty stomach can induce motion sickness
  • Allow for fresh air, either sitting by a window that can be rolled down or near an air vent
  • Offer distractions by talking, singing or playing games like I-spy
  • Schedule travel during naptime
  • Alternative remedies: motion sickness bands to wear around wrists (come in children’s size); ginger (in the form of ginger snaps or ginger ale) has also been shown to help with nausea

Prevention (medical):

  • Dramamine, Benadryl and other prescription medications can be used to combat motion sickness, but you should speak to your pediatrician before using these treatments, as they carry side effects