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Traveling with children that suffer from motion sickness

It’s officially summer and that means beach, pools, and plenty of play time. If you are like many families, you have some sort of vacation planned for you and your children. This time of year, with the hot weather, there is no shortage of places to go – almost everywhere is accommodating. But what do you do if your little one(s) suffer from motion sickness? This can be a serious issue for your travels, but thankfully there are some ways to combat the issue.

##What causes motion sickness?
Motion sickness is caused by mixed signals being sent to the brain and can be made worse by stress and excitement, which your child is sure to feel during these trips. Just as in adults, if your little one is looking at a toy, or at a picture book while in the moving car, his or her eyes are sending a message to the brain that they are not in motion. However, other parts of her body are sending messages that they ARE in motion, the exact opposite message. These conflicting signals can cause her to feel nauseous.

Motion sickness is most common in kids aged 2 to 12 but can happen at any age, and it is believed that some children are more prone to motion sickness than others because they are more sensitive to the brains’ reaction. In fact, motion sickness can strike not only during the obvious times: boat rides, plane trips, car rides (even more so if there is turbulence or rough waters), but also during something as simple as swinging on a swing!

##What can be done to help my child’s motion sickness?

Thankfully there are a few things that you can do to help prevent or alleviate motion sickness for your little ones. It is important to be patient, as they are feeling pretty terrible, and try these tips:

– Be alert. Prior to actually getting sick, a child typically develops a cold sweat and a loss of appetite. If you notice these signs, try taking a break. If you are driving, pull over and give your little one some rest. If you are on a plane and can’t take a rest, try having them look out of the window. A cool cloth on their forehead will also help. Symptoms usually subside within 15 minutes.

– If in a car, or on a boat, have your child look ahead to a spot on the horizon. And object in the distance will send visual signals that you are moving, helping to resolve the conflicting messages that your brain is receiving.

– Distract your child. As we said earlier, motion sickness is the brain sending mixed signals about what is going on around you, and this can sometimes be curbed by distraction. Try signing or just chit-chatting as opposed to providing a toy or book, which can make them disoriented.

– Take the trip as close to naptime as possible. If you can schedule the traveling during naptime, you are ahead of the game. Children are much less likely to become sick is they are asleep during motion.

– Cool air. Provide cool air by letting the air conditioner blow lightly on your child, or crack a window for a breeze. If you are on a boat, try to go out on the deck for some fresh air.

– Motion-sickness bracelets. There are bracelets which are thought to half nausea by stimulating acupressure points on the wrist. The scientific evidence behind this is still lacking, but some people do claim that it works. Make sure to do your own research before doing this.

– Over the counter medication. There are some chewable tablets and liquid-form medications that you can try for children 2 and up, that helps to quell nausea, but you should make sure to speak to your doctor before giving any medication to your child.

Most important is to be patient with your child. If they do begin to show signs of motion sickness, understand that it is a normal thing and take the appropriate actions to help them feel better. The best prevention is to talk to your child beforehand and explain to them what motion sickness is, what causes it, and techniques to help stop it. But make sure to pack a durable plastic bag, wipes, and a change of clothes in case the worse does end up happening.

We hope everybody is having a great start to the summer, and if you are traveling anywhere, please let us know in the comments! We love to hear about the great trips our families take during the summer!

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