Car sickness is common—probably more common than you think. It’s estimated that 18% of passengers experience motion sickness while riding in a vehicle. However, car sickness is much more common in kids ages 2-12 years old, according to the CDC.
Motion sickness isn’t fun for anyone. Your kiddo has to deal with the pain and discomfort of nausea and dizziness—and often ends up vomiting. Meanwhile, you as a parent have to clean up the mess and figure out how to proceed with the trip. As a family, you can’t avoid riding in the car, but the solution to car sickness isn’t always easy.
Today, we’re sharing our most effective strategies to help or stop motion sickness. This can help make errands stress-free again while putting that dream family road trip back on the calendar! Here are Safe in the Seat’s tips for fighting car sickness:
How to Get Rid of Car Sickness
Improve the airflow and keep them cool.
Keeping the back seat cool and comfortable will help combat motion sickness. Use a Noggle to transport air from your air vents right to your car sick passenger. Even consider rolling down the windows just a bit to get some fresh air moving through the vehicle. If all that’s not enough, these cooling towels and window shades might do the trick! (HERE are more tips to beat the heat.)
Plan meals strategically.
We all know certain meals are worse than others if you’ve got an upset stomach. A light snack of fresh fruit? Probably not a big deal. A heavy dinner of cheesy alfredo? That one might make a gurgling tummy more upset.
Plan your meals accordingly if you’ve got to leave the house soon. Pay attention to your child’s car sickness trends — some kids do better with a full tummy (but again, be careful what food is filling that tummy!) but for others, a full tummy is a guaranteed mess. If your kid falls into the second category, plan accordingly when you can. Offering a snack at your destination or letting your child eat breakfast at school may benefit some car-sick kiddos!
Encourage your child to look straight ahead.
A good tip for preventing motion sickness is to look straight ahead. (You should not close your eyes either.) So, depending on which way your child is facing, encourage them to look out the front or back windshield. If they struggle with facing forward, try these special car sickness glasses!
Have older kids wear sea bands.
Acupressure bands are another motion sickness solution that works for some people. Though studies are unclear, a lot of people report the “sea bands” help relieve nausea or delay the onset of symptoms. Try them out if you have older kids that will keep the band in place for the whole trip.
Adjust the car seat position or placement.
We never recommend switching to front-facing early just because your child is getting motion sick in the rear-facing mode. Their safety is the number one priority, even over the discomfort of motion sickness (especially since forward-facing doesn’t fix the problem for many kids!). And, one of these other solutions will probably work for you, so don’t resort to changing to front-facing! However, there are other things you can change about the car seat to make your child more comfortable.
Consider moving the seat to the middle, so looking out the back window and ignoring the side windows is easier. You can also change the recline (within the manufacturer guidelines) to see if a certain setting alleviates that queasiness. The car seat itself may be uncomfortable as well, so if you’ve tried everything else, look at our car seat reviews and make another selection.
Plan trips around naptime.
Kids who are sleeping rarely get car sick. If you can swing it, try to travel in the car around nap or bedtime to reduce discomfort. This way, you won’t have big messes to clean up, you’ll get where you’re going on time, and you’ll get some much-need quiet time.
We often hear from parents whose kids are fine on shorter drives around town, but get car sick if they’re in the seat for longer timeframes. If this applies to your little one, use that knowledge to your advantage! If your child’s stomach gets upset at the hour or ninety-minute mark, plan a road trip route that allows breaks at those intervals. A planned break with time to reset is way better than an unplanned break to clean up a pukey kid and car seat!
Get eyes and ears checked.
Car sickness can be a side effect of issues with the eye and ear senses like fluid buildup, infections, or vision impairment. So, if you’re not having luck with other tips on this list, see your pediatrician and get everything checked out.
Talk to your doctor about medication or other intervention.
If a doctor can’t find any issues that could be contributing to motion sickness, ask them if over-the-counter or prescription medication is right for your child. You could also use natural ginger remedies like ginger ale or these tummy pops (for before the car ride or when pulled over). The doctor will know best how to proceed!
Teach your child to communicate.
To help remedy motion sickness before it results in vomiting, teach your child to communicate when they’re feeling sick. Give them the language to explain their cold sweats, their upset tummy, and their dizzy vision. That way, when they’re feeling sick, you can pull over and give their stomach time to settle before continuing. During this time, you can cool them, get them a sick bag, and anything else they may need to continue the trip!
Prepare for cleanup.
If your child is prone to car sickness, you’re going to have vomit to clean up at some point. Plan for these messes, so you’re not so stressed while your child is experiencing nausea and vomiting. Large bibs, vomit bags, wet bags, hand sanitizer, and extra clothes are all good to have in your car when one of your passengers is prone to car sickness. If vomit gets on the car seat, use our safe car seat cleaning post to get it ready for the next trip!
Combat car sickness with these helpful strategies!
Remedying motion sickness is no easy task. However, with these strategies, hopefully your kiddo will see some relief. If you’re looking for more car seat and family vehicle safety tips, check out the Safe in the Seat blog and Instagram. And, when you can put that road trip back on the calendar, make sure to check out our road trip safety tips and car seat toy recommendations. We’ve got all the information you need to keep your child comfortable and safe on every ride.
Affiliate links are included above. Safe in the Seat earns a small commission when you purchase through these links with no cost to you. We so appreciate your support.