‘Daddy, I feel sick.’ So came the call from the back. Seconds later, he was covered in vomit. So was his seat, his toys, and the surrounding area.
We were 10 miles away from the next stop. What the hell do I do?
This was my Son a few days back. He always used to be a good traveler in the car, but recently, he suffered from motion sickness.
I learned from this life episode that I thought I would pass on to you because car/travel sickness is widespread with toddlers and babies.
Motion sickness – the cause
The reason some people get motion sickness when traveling is simple:
Your eyes are lying to your brain.
Your body is moving left and right. It is slowing and speeding up. Your eyes must be telling your brain that these things are happening, but sometimes they do not do an excellent job.
My Son was sick because he was reading (or looking at pictures) on the side of a new toy we had just bought him. While his eyes are transfixed on the box, his body moves from side to side, slowing down and speeding up.
His eyes tell his brain, ‘I am not moving, man,’ but his body was telling a different story. This causes his brain to get a bit confused. You get to see what he has just eaten, but this time it doesn’t smell as good.
Reducing motion sickness
Some tips below that you can follow to help reduce motion sickness when traveling with a baby or toddler. Ultimately, it would help if you got them to look out of the front window.
This is not a total cure because some people will get motion sickness to help stop it. If that is you or your child, then it is worth speaking to a clinician, as they will suggest some medication that will help reduce motion sickness for children.10 tips to reduce motion sickness when traveling with a baby or toddler
Here are the 10 tips
Number one is the most important because you need to be prepped for any cleaning! Traveling with a baby doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you prep well.
1. Prep a puke survival kit
Failure to prepare is preparing to fail!
You need to prep an in-car sickness survival kit. Get a bag. Any bag. Fill it with these things:
- Wet wipes – which you should ALWAYS have anyway.
- Anti Bacterial Cleaner – not for use on the child!
- Spare Clothes – remember to replace them as they get bigger!
- Trash Bags – because you will want to wrap everything up, so the car doesn’t smell too badly.
- Kitchen Cloths – because that stuff gets EVERYWHERE!
- Water – to rinse things.
Also, it would be best to always carry water for you all to drink. Do not drink the water in the survival kit because it has probably been there a while if you are like me.
2. Do not give them anything to watch or read
iPads or tablets are great! They keep your child occupied while you are getting on with those little tasks in life that are easy…but seem impossible when you need to give your child attention.
In the back of the car, they are also great! Give your child something to watch while you do the hard work.
They are not great if you have a toddler who suffers from motion sickness. It can be the cause of motion sickness!
When your eyes are focussing on a screen or a book, your brain is thinking ‘hang on, I can’t see that I am moving, but my body is. I had better send an evac command to the stomach because that will surely help’.
Yeh – I don’t understand it either, but it is what it is.
3. Open the window
Fresh air can calm a sick feeling.
When you feel like you will vomit, it doesn’t help when you feel ‘stuffy,’ like you can in a car. It would help if you had freedom and space around you.
Opening the window can help you feel less stuffy, and it has the added benefit that some of the vomit might go out of the window. However, it is much easier to clear the side of your car than the car seat/child.
4. Use the air conditioning
This is very similar to the above.
When you are going to vomit, your body temperature feels like it is rising the sweat begins to pour down your face like you’ve been caught leaving work early.
Ramp up the air-con to cool them down. You might be fighting a losing battle, but it is best to unleash all possible weapons. You never know; it might just stop the mass clean-up.
5. Play games that force them to look out of the window
‘I spy’ is a great game. It keeps them entertained, but it also forces them to look out of the window.
When you look out the window, your brain knows that you are moving. So if you are approaching a bend, your eyes will prep your brain, so it doesn’t come as a shock.
I like to play a game that is ‘the first one to see a blue car is a winner.’ You can pick an unusual color to prolong the game, but they get bored eventually, so keep on your toes.
Speaking of games, you can distract a toddler with a steering wheel toy to reduce car sickness!
6. Play some music – but not too loud
Plying some music will keep their brains busy while they try to make sense of the words.
The distraction may also make them forget that they feel sick, and you never know.
Do not play the music too loud, though; you don’t want to miss them being sick while singing Bruce Springsteen at the top of your voice. However, if this does happen, you will be pleased to know that the smell will hit you sooner than you think.
7. Get them to have a nap
Aha, sleeping child! Is there a better feeling as a Dad to look at your child and realize they have fallen asleep?
I don’t think so.
As they are asleep, they are unlikely to be feeling sick. A word of warning, though, can still be ill, but the chances are much lower when compared to a fully lucid child.
Again, don’t have the music too loud. It could wake them up for a start, but you will also want to know if they wake up feeling sick or have vomited!
8. Check their snack and drink intake
What prompted me to write some tips on avoiding toddler car sickness was the recent episode of my Son evacuating his stomach contents in my car.
I didn’t tell you above, and if quite relevant, that he had just finished a medium-sized bottle of banana milkshake.
I can’t be sure that this was the vomit trigger, but I can tell you that it made the vomit sell so much worse than usual. It also put me off eating Bananas for a few weeks!
Have a reality check on what you are feeding them and how often you feed them. Try to stick to water and dry foods if you can. I know it is difficult because a toddler doesn’t want water and dry foods, but it is worth the argument.
9. Clean the car before you leave
A packed car full of ‘stuff’ that hasn’t been cleaned in a while can induce vomiting if your child suffers from motion sickness.
It is primarily due to being enclosed, which is not great when you feel sick.
Cleaning the car will give it a pleasant, fresh smell. Give it a go.
10. Check the driving modes on your car
I have a few driving modes in my car. The sports mode will toughen up the suspension and the steering and make it much easier to overtake people. I tend to use this mode when there is no one else in the car because it can make the journey uncomfortable.
There is another mode, called ‘Comfort.’ It makes sense (primarily because of the name) to have this mode switched on when you have passengers who suffer from car sickness.
The journey is much smoother, with fewer jolts and fewer’ speed up, slow down’ elements.
Have a look at the modes on your car (if you have any) and pick the right one for the circumstances.
You never know, it could save you money on gas too!
Toddler or Baby Car Sick Survival Guide – Conclusion
When traveling with a baby or a toddler who suffers from car or motion sickness, it is best to be prepared. Not just being prepared for when it does happen, I also mean you need to be ready, so it limits the chances of happening.
Motion sickness is no fun. It is no fun for the person who suffers from it, and it is no fun for the person who has to clean it up. That is you, by the way.
The critical thing is that you are prepared and have a survival kit if it happens.
Good luck on your travels!