There are lots of happy things that come along with the holiday season. But when taking long trips to enjoy time with family, it’s common for children to experience some uncomfortable motion sickness.
The good news is that if we have an idea of what causes that nauseous feeling, we are better equipped to prevent it.
In short, a few body parts report to the brain during movement:
- Liquid in the inner ears senses motion.
- Eyes witness surroundings.
- Skin receptors feel if we are touching the ground.
- Muscle sensory receptors tell how the body is positioned.
With that information, the brain tries to put together a total picture of what is going on. If some of the information doesn’t match, we can feel ill.
For example, when your child is reading or playing a handheld game while in motion, ears and skin receptors detect that he is moving forward, but the eyes and muscle receptors tell the brain that he is sitting still. This causes the brain to get confused, which may lead your child to feel tired, dizzy or sick to his stomach.
To avoid motion sickness:
- Put your best face forward. Have your child facing forward if he is old enough. This helps keep the motion sensed by his eyes and ears the same. Sometimes it helps to have a booster seat to elevate your child so he can see better, or remove the headrest from the front seats.
- Examine the great outdoors. From inside a car, tell your child to look at sights far away, like the barn up ahead or a mountain, as opposed to a book or DVD player. If feeling seasick on a boat, lead your child to the top deck (in the middle of the boat) and look far out into the horizon where the sea and sky meet. On an airplane, your child should try looking out the window. This way, his eyes won’t be fooled into thinking he’s not moving when he actually is.
- Get to the middle of things. Whatever your child is riding in, tell him to find the place with the least amount of movement. This means sitting closer to the center of a plane (in the aisle seats over the wings) or in the middle of a boat, rather than at the sides or the front, where he’s more likely to feel seasick.
And if your child easily feels bad during any kind of movement, it’s a good idea to go to the doctor to make sure there’s nothing wrong with any of his body parts that sense movement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares additional details about helpful medications and other preventative measures.