When it comes to planes, trains and automobiles (automobiles, mainly), there are precious few journeys my children haven’t ‘freelance redecorated’ with the contents of their stomachs.
Although I remain suspicious, doctors reassure me my offspring are not vengeful creatures hellbent on destroying both my dignity and the interior of my car, but – like 25 per cent of the population – simply prone to motion sickness. Children between the ages of two and 12 (bingo) are particularly prone.
Got kids who are similarly inclined? Load up on the rigid-rimmed vomit bags (I always like to pick up a few every time we present at the children’s hospital ER – which is often) and take heart, there’s plenty we do to save our sanity – and the interior of our once sweet-smelling cars.
Motion sickness is believed to occur when there is a communication error between the information that the brain receives from the inner ear balance mechanism and what the eyes see when in motion. Some kids will eventually grow out of it, many won’t, but planning with military precision before you hit the road can make all the difference.
Firstly, ensure your child isn’t gorging their body weight in dairy products, fatty foods and, as unlikely as it may be, spicy foods before getting in the car. Light meals are best, and in many cases a few dry crackers with a few sips of water can assist.
Kids, no matter their age, will try to smuggle contraband into the vehicle, so do a quick check to ensure they haven’t got any books, drawing pads or tablets under their jumpers. Looking down at a screen or a page is far more likely to increase the chances of them getting sick.
If your child is really susceptible to motion sickness, plan longer trips at night when they’re likely to fall asleep, or during nap times during shorter ones. Added bonus: you’re less likely to have to listen to the joyful sounds of The Wiggles if you opt to do this. Medications such as Kwells Kids can work wonders, but be warned that it can make most children drowsy.
Placing your child in the middle back seat can also assist, as they’ll be able to look out the front window rather than the side (younger children or pocket rockets will require a car seat or booster), and remember to have plenty of ventilation. Nothing encourages illness quite like a hot and stuffy interior.
Whether your child grows deathly silent or articulates clearly their very real need to decorate their lap/sibling/your headrest, it’s time to act.
Driving along a particularly windy road? Put your car in sport mode if it has this feature (doing so compensates for the rollover), and keep the window closest to them wound down somewhat so that they have plenty of fresh air.
Should you stock up on some travel bands and travel sickness lollipops? What works for some kids will not work for others, so you might need to have a bit of a play. On the market? Acupressure bands that apply pressure on the wrist, the aforementioned lollipops in various flavours, and ginger chewables. Gin Gins Ginger Candy works well with my girls, but others maintain capsules can be just as successful.
Just don’t forget those vomit bags. You’ll never know when you need them.