I had (read: still suffer from) motion sickness as a kid. Our child, we learned over the summer, suffers from the same unfortunate affliction. Being natural-minded parents, we don’t like giving our kid Dramamine. It works, and it’s how I survived most car rides until I hit puberty and some times after. But it knocks you out. We’re in the car a lot and we don’t want to deal with a kid who slept all day. Instead, we’ve tried to work with the nasty that comes with a kid throwing up on the regular because of car sickness.
Above everything else, learn how to react
Fortunately, I know what’s up since I went through the same thing. But the Husband never did, so I had to stress to him how to deal with this. PLEASE LISTEN: Don’t shame your kid. Don’t make a big deal over it. Just clean them up, change their clothes, and get them back in the car. If you’re frustrated (because this is the THIRD TIME in an hour and it’s gross), take a few deep breaths don’t say anything.
If you can, remind them that it’s okay, that it was just an accident, and that throwing up and being sick doesn’t make them bad or in trouble. And don’t forget to tell your kid that you love them, even when they’re sick. I know it seems obvious to you, but it isn’t to your kid.
Figure out what types of travel make your kid sick
For me, it’s curvy roads where I can’t see far distances, back roads through corn fields, elevators, and landing airplanes or stop and go traffic. So far, for our kid it’s mostly the curvy roads and sometimes stop and go traffic. Certain routes can trigger motion sickness, too (like the way to my Aunt Chris’ house – it still gets me). It’s different for everyone. Just pay attention to know when to expect it.
Sometimes you can’t avoid these routes or your kid is weird like me and mine and still likes car rides anyway. In those cases, just try to preempt the motion sickness by planning ahead.
Notice the signs that your kid might not be feeling well
Ours stops making the sounds of playing and starts staring off in space. He also won’t answer questions right away, if at all. Most of the time, your kid will not tell you they have to throw up, and if you ask them, they’ll deny it. Don’t get angry or frustrated with them for it. And again, all kids will react differently, so just figure out how yours reacts.
Take precautions – and medicine
At the first possible sign, stop feeding your kid. They might want to eat because it’ll make them feel better immediately, but having food in the stomach will make motion sickness worse. Instead, give them medicine if you can; we use a natural motion sickness aid we got at Whole Foods. But try a few different things and find what works for your kid. My other suggestions are the Preggie Pop Drops with vitamin B6, or for mild cases or when we think he might be fibbing, lifesaver mints or cough drops. Ginger tea and candy also work, but kids don’t tend to like it. Ginger ale (with real ginger) isn’t usually strong enough.
If it’s too late for medicine, just hand the kid a plastic bag if they’re old enough and hope for the best. We tend to tuck it into the car seat straps just to make sure it sticks. If they’re not old enough to handle a plastic bag, get one of those bibs with the pockets (if you read my road trip with a toddler guide, you should already have a disposable one on hand!) and put it on after the kid is already strapped in. Either way, this won’t stop the puke, but it will help the clean up by catching some of it.
Be prepared for the worst
So your kid throws up. It’s not the end of the world (or your trip). Just remember to always have wet wipes, disinfectant wipes, plastic bags, and spare clothes in the car. I suggest bringing more than one spare outfit, just in case. True story: when I was very young (3 or 4), we went for a weekend trip to a wedding a few hours away. I threw up on every outfit I had except the dress I was going to wear to the wedding. You need to bring spares upon spares upon spares of everything, down to socks. Or just let your kid sit out the rest of the ride in underwear. For more information on what you need to bring on a long trip with a small child, read my guide to road trips with a toddler.
Also, get into a routine with your significant other or older children if you can. It goes faster if one person cleans the kid and the other cleans the car seat. And most car seats can be safely used without the comfy padding, so don’t worry if it gets soaked in vomit and you have to remove it. I’m still waiting on one of the car seat makers to recognize this problem. They could really capitalize on having spare and waterproof sets for sale as an extra. Otherwise, just wipe everything down and give it a thorough cleaning when you get to your final destination or home.