How to Treat Motion Sickness in Children

Motion sickness is a discomfort caused while travelling by land, sea or air. Help your child deal with it using these simple measures.

By Deepika Mohan

How to Treat Motion Sickness in Children

Motion sickness is an uneasy sensation that occurs during travel, be it by car, train, bus, plane or boat. Although not an illness, it makes travel unpleasant. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and headache.

Travelling with children who have motion sickness is difficult. Here are a few measures for prevention and treatment.

An article titled, ‘The search for an effective cure for motion sickness’, by Katia Moskvitch was published on BBC’s website in 2015. In it, Sujana Chandrasekhar, Director, Comprehensive Balance Center, New York, recommends preventive measures. “In a plane, choose a seat above the wings where the motion is the least,” she says. “Do not read while travelling if you are subject to motion sickness, and do not sit in a seat facing backwards.” Ensure your child does not use digital gadgets to watch movies or play games.

While travelling by car, ask your child to sit in the front seat. If that is not possible, ask her to sit in the middle of the rear seat. As the motion is minimal in these positions, it reduces the mismatch between what the eyes see and what the body and ear feel. Tell your child to focus on the still scenery from the front window. Looking at moving objects through side windows cause dizziness and nausea.

While prevention is better than cure, here are ways to aid recovery.

  1. Ginger: Consuming ginger is a traditional remedy. Give your child ginger candies, ginger ale or ginger biscuits when he feels nauseous or vomits. While the effectiveness of ginger is debatable, an article by Anahad O' Connor titled, ‘The Claim: Eating Ginger Can Cure Motion Sickness,’ published on The New York Times website in 2007, states that ginger is effective in treating the associated nausea.
  2. Peppermint: According to the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide on the University of Maryland Medical Center website, the ingredients in peppermint calm the gastrointestinal tract. Peppermint also helps relieve involuntary muscular contractions. Known as Pudina, it can be given to older children as tea or candy. Pudina leaves can also be chewed slowly by the child.
  3. Sleep: Sleep is essential to recover from motion sickness. Choose a seat where the motion is less and ask your child to close his eyes. He could listen to soothing music and eventually sleep.
  4. Food recommendations: Travelling on an empty stomach is never advisable. Give your child a light meal before travelling.

An article by Andrew Brainard on the Medscape website, updated in 2016, says, ‘Reports exist that a bland diet that is high in carbohydrates and low in fats may reduce symptoms. Spicy foods, acidic foods, and other foods that produce gastritis or gastroesophageal reflux are more likely to be associated with stomach awareness, nausea, and vomiting.’

Over-the-counter medication is also available. If the symptoms are mild, these recommendations will work. Consult a doctor if symptoms are severe or if the sickness continues post travel.