Motion sickness in kids
Are you one of those parents whose excitement for a long-awaited family holiday comes with the ever-present fear of hearing little voices utter those dreaded words, “my tummy feels funny …”? Well, you’re certainly not alone!
Motion sickness, or travel sickness, is that unwell feeling you get when travelling in a moving vehicle. While it can affect anyone if there’s enough movement, motion sickness tends to affect kids more than adults – and is actually fairly common. Up to 10% of children aged 3 months to 18 years are reported to be prone to getting motion sickness, with over 40% of school-aged children from 7 to 12 years old experiencing motion sickness while travelling in a car.
Why do kids get motion sickness?
Motion sickness happens when there is a mismatch between what your brain expects to see and feel and what you actually see and feel. These muddled-up senses cause the symptoms of motion sickness in both adults and children, but it’s thought that age can affect how sensitive someone is to this mismatch. There’s also some suggestion that kids are more likely to get motion sickness if one or both of their parents experienced motion sickness as a child.
So how does kids’ motion sickness change with age? First, babies and toddlers under 2 years of age rarely experience motion sickness. This may be because signals from the eyes to the brain are less important in kids of this age. As kids get a bit older, the frequency of motion sickness increases: it’s most common in children aged 4 to 13 years and hits its peak frequency around 9 years of age. This peak suggests that kids of this age appear to be most sensitive to the mismatch of senses that leads to motion sickness symptoms. The good news is that after the age of 13 years, kids start to experience less motion sickness because their senses get more and more used to the movements of different vehicles while travelling.
Kids’ motion sickness symptoms
Nausea is the most common symptom of motion sickness – so your child might complain of feeling sick or having a sore tummy. Other common signs or symptoms that can help you tell if your child is experiencing motion sickness include:
- Feeling dizzy
- Skin becoming pale
- Getting drowsy
Treatment and relief for kids’ motion sickness
To stop motion sickness from ruining your next family road trip, plane flight, or ocean cruise, consider trying a motion sickness medicine for kids. When taken before starting your trip, these medications help to prevent motion sickness before it starts by blocking those sensory signals from reaching the brain. KWELLS® Kids Travel Sickness Prevention chewable tablets with hyoscine hydrobromide are suitable for children aged 2 to 12 years. They can be chewed, sucked, or swallowed with water, and should be taken at least 30 minutes before travelling.
Other things that you can do to help prevent and relieve symptoms of motion sickness in kids include:
- Helping your child focus on things outside the car or vehicle – think singing songs or ‘I Spy” games
- Ditching the books, phones, and tablets during the trip – reading or looking at screens while travelling can trigger motion sickness or make symptoms worse
- Avoiding big or heavy meals right before travelling, and planning small, plain snacks and drinks during a long trip
- Make sure there is plenty of fresh air or good ventilation inside the vehicle to prevent stuffy air and bad smells building up
- Consider planning your trip overnight or during nap times so that your child will sleep while travelling
With these tips – and help from KWELLS® Kids – you can help prevent your kids’ motion sickness being the most memorable part of your next family holiday!
Always read the label and follow directions for use.
Frequently asked questions about motion sickness in children
KWELLS® Kids Travel Sickness Prevention chewable tablets are suitable for children aged 2 to 12 years. When looking for kids’ motion sickness medicine, always read the label and follow the directions for use.
It is rare for children under 2 years of age to get motion sickness, possibly because their brains rely less on signals from the eyes. Babies are also usually lying down, which can help reduce the likelihood of motion sickness.
Travelling at night while your kids are sleeping may help prevent motion sickness because they will have less sensory information going to their brain with their eyes closed.
Motion sickness is caused by a mismatch in the sensory information received by the brain, which can happen in any moving vehicle. But the factors that trigger car sickness in your child (e.g., windy roads, sitting in the backseat) may be different from factors associated with motion sickness on boats (e.g., rocking waves) or planes (e.g., air turbulence).