There is nothing that can make a long road trip more arduous than car sickness, especially in the case of young children. Car sickness, which is a form of motion sickness is the outcome of our brain getting conflicting messages about our state of motion from our eyes, our inner ears and the nerves in our hands and legs.
This is why it is not advisable for children to read or play video games while travelling in a vehicle. Yes, endless questions about where we are going and how long it would take to get there can be annoying and their favourite book or video game would be useful to keep them quiet so that the driver could focus on the road. Nevertheless, when they read or play video games, these are activities that are done when you are normally at rest and the children would be focusing on the book or the video game. They would not be looking out of the window. Hence, their inner ears would sense the motion of the vehicle but their eyes and their joints would not. This conflict in the messages that the brain receives from different parts of the body can lead to fatigue, nausea, sweating, loss of appetite and cold sweats.
Scientists do not know why some children are more likely than others to experience motion sickness. Surprisingly, infants and toddlers do not experience motion sickness, while those who are between 2 and 12 years of age are highly vulnerable when it comes to motion sickness.
Here are a few handy tips to fend off motion sickness:
1. Avoid Spicy and Greasy foods before the trip: It might be a good idea to avoid spicy or greasy food like burgers and curries prior to and during the trip. If you are taking snacks to munch during the journey, stick to bland options that are less likely to irritate the stomach like crackers.
2. Ensure there is plenty of Air Circulation: Ensuring that there is plenty of air circulation can minimize car sickness. Make sure there are no strong orders and if it helps, crack the windows open.
3. Skip the Video Games and Books: As mentioned before, while books and video games might keep kids quiet, their use can send mixed signals to the brain. When the eyes are focused on the books or games, the brain gets the message that they are still while their inner ear sends the message that they are in a moving vehicle. This conflict leads to nausea. It would be better to encourage the children to look out of the car so that the signal that they are moving comes from all parts of the body. Preferably, they should look out through the front windshield instead of the side windows.
4. Reduce Sensory Input: Reduce or eliminate any stimulus from inside the car and encourage them to read signboards, point out landmarks and keep them engaged. If they would like to nap, this is the perfect time for a short or long nap.
5. Distract Them: If they are prone to motion sickness, distract them with stories, songs and by just talking.
6. Use OTC medicines: In the case of older children in the 2-12 age group, consult your doctor if there are any over the counter medications that can be used to fend off nausea and take them along when you go on a trip.
7. Make Frequent Stops:. It might be a good idea to make frequent stops and allow children to get out and walk around to clear their heads and get a breath of fresh air. Placing something cool on the forehead can also help. Another strategy you can use is lying on the back for a few minutes and closing your eyes.
8. Apply pressure. In the case of some kids, applying light but firm pressure to the inside wrist can help.