Motion sickness? How to help kids who get car sick (includes general tips for motion sickness, including airplane sickness)

Help for little ones whose tummies don't like car rides and airplanes.  Here are the tips and rules of of tackling and managing motion sickness.

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Some things to try:


Medications and devices:

  • Dramamine (depending on age)
    • Some parents warn about drowsiness and only to give 1/2 tablet
  • Bonine (less drowsy versio nof Dramamine)
  • Antihistamines (e.g., Benadryl)
  • There are homeopathic motion sickness pills as well
  • Sea bands (the accupressure wrist bands that control nausea-- great for morning sickness too)


Car environment:

  • Keep child and the car cool
    • Open the window
    • Have child chew on ice chips so he/she does not overheat
    • Take off outer coat layers to avoid overheating
    • Try air conditioning "apparently my son copes better in a cool environment."     
  • Fresh air helps. Roll down the windows—perhaps the cool air simulates fresh air
  • We open the windows in the car for fresh air, and also the sound helps her sleep.
  • Shade the side windows
  • "Drive when it's dark- EVEN IF kid doesn't sleep in the car, night  driving is less nauseating bc of less visual stimulus"
  • Tell child to ONLY look out the front, not the side windows. Better yet, if they are old enough, let them sit up front.
  • "I had some pretty bad motion sickness as a child, and still occasionally get it to this day. It's generally caused/exacerbated by the disconnect between how fast it feels like you're going and how fast if looks like you're going. The worst thing to do is look out the side windows. Looking out the rear or front windows is better. Reading a book or looking closely at a toy and then looking up (and out the window) really makes it bad.


For the driver:

  • Try to make ride as smooth as possible
  • Don't drive too fast, especially through windy roads
  • Don't abuse the break! When drivers make jerky stops, it can trigger motion sickness


Keep kids distracted:

  • Play audiobooks "Books on tape—fun for the whole family!"
  • DVDs "although reading makes him sick, he can watch TV in the car." 
  • Music
  • Old fashion road trip games—I Spy, find all 50 license plates… looking outside the window can placate the belly


Take breaks:

  • Make frequent stops, especially when child is complaining about tongue, stomach, throat, etc


When nausea strikes:

  • Have child close her eyes when feeling nauseated



  • Give snacks
  • Don't drive on an empty stomach but not too full either
  • Offer easy to digest and savoury foods like pretzels and saltines
  • Ginger snaps or candied ginger.
  • Only feed things you’re “willing to clean up” - so no KoolAid, Red Vines, etc.
  • Lollipops or chewing gum, especially mint, and ginger snaps 
  • Food—Saltine crackers, gummy bears (like jell-o, gummies sooth the tummy)     
  • Cold water—again, something about being cool.
    • Foods to avoid:
      • No dairy prior to ride.
      • "A big trigger for my daughter was fruit before a car ride--maybe it was too acidic?  We also found that any activity that had her looking down for too long like coloring or using an iPad triggered her to get sick. We sometimes attach the iPad to the headrest in front of her to watch a movie and that works ok--our pediatrician actually said that looking at something attached to the car might be helpful. But the safest bet is to just drive at night when she's likely to sleep. She's 4 now, and it has gotten a lot less frequent!"



  • No reading, no looking down -- distract with other games like music, conversation, etc.
  • No videos/DVD's
  • Try to travel when child is sleepy, or at night, to reduce risk of feeling sick 
  • Put child in the middle seat, so they can see out the front window where things are not whizzing by as fast.
  • If your child is in a carset, keep it in the middle as well.
  • Encourage “whining” so you have as much notice as possible
  • When all of these things fail, BE PREPARED,
    • Bring plastic bags, paper towels, water, and change of clothes in case the worst does happen.
    • Diapers make good catchers’ mitts if all else fails
    • Drape a towel underneath your child and on the floor so the mess is minimal
  • Avoid the car (if you can)! "My son prefers train travel as you can get up and walk around


Be prepared for cleaning up a mess:

  • "We also drape her in towels for the ride. And watch what she eats , tons of blueberries vomited all over a car interior is pretty gross!"
  • Have plastic barf bags handy
  • Keep wet wipes, paper towels, and upholstery cleaner in the car to clean up immediately after.


Something to try, before you travel:

  • One parent says motion sickness could be a vestibular system issue and “getting him to spin clockwise 10 times and then anti-clockwise 10 times every day would help him and then to increase it by a couple of spins every week or so,” could help.


More suggestions are available on this web site:

"When I was looking at car seats I stumbled on a thread that addressed car sickness. I can't remember exactly what, but this Car Seat Lady page may be one of the things I read. It has good information at least. Having a car seat that effectively blocks the side windows helps a lot (as infant carseats tend to do), or you can also put up your own makeshift blinders. Keeping the carseat in the middle seat helps. Reclining the seat can also help. Anything to keep your kiddo from looking out the side windows."