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Our daughter gets sick roughly every time we drive to my parents' house. We already time it for her nap, but it's over two hours, so she winds up awake for the last 30 minutes to an hour or so.

And the worst part is that she almost makes it (so anything that delays onset might actually work). It's brutal getting through two hours without incident, only to wind up with a car full of puke (and a sad, sad little girl) in the last 15 minutes.

I know that what you can see can sometimes help, but she's under two, so I want her in a rear facing car seat, which means there's no way to let her see out the front window.

Has anyone found a way to manage this in a kid under two? I can't easily stop taking them to their grandparents place, but you wouldn't believe how many places puke can get in a car seat.

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I feel your pain . . . my little sister was the same way. Have you asked your pediatrician? –  Marc Jul 6 at 1:08

4 Answers 4

I did a bit of searching on this one and it's particularly challenging because of the "under 2yo".

The most common advice I found was to stop and let her out for awhile. (The MayoClinic seemed to have the most well-rounded advice.)

The other common advice that related to your particular situation was letting in some air, but I'm guessing you've tried that one already.

As with almost all issues related to children, a one-size-fits-all solution doesn't seem to exist, but maybe these ideas will help you and your daughter.

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Probably there is no easy solution, but as a person who gets car sick pretty often I would suggest the following:

  1. Try different car if possible. Car (and driver) do make a difference.
  2. Try driving her often starting from short distances and slowly increasing the distance so she gets used to being in the car
  3. Try feeding her bread (or bagel, if available) - right before leaving and/or right after she wakes up in the car. That what works for me

Also make sure there are no offensive smells in the car (e.g. air freshener, perfume, etc). And make sure there is nothing moving in front of her (like toys). Also I think you are already doing this, but keep a lot of plastic bags easily accessible so the stuff does not get all over the place.

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Drivers matter; so do the numbers of twists and turns. If she always seems to get sick at around the same time (15 minutes from your parents' house), it might be that it's a particularly winding route that's affecting her. You have a few options.

I agree that giving her crackers (high starch, low fat) and a little non-fat liquid (i.e. no milk) before the ride (and not a meal) is a good idea. First trimester nausea is often helped by crackers at the bedside. Flat (natural) ginger ale is a good idea as well, as ginger root is a known herbal anti-emetic.

If you're usually the driver, try letting another adult drive. If the other adult drives more slowly, that will help.

If your direct route is particularly winding, you can try a slightly longer one with fewer turns if that's possible.

If she's awake and bored, try music rather than a plaything. Anything that focuses her vision on a non-moving object in front of her will make it worse (like reading in a car does for adults.)

You can stop the car and take her out of her seat for a little walk before she gets sick (highly recommended). A few minutes of fresh air without swaying may be all she needs to get through that last half hour.

If all else fails, ask her doctor about using a first generation antihistamine, such as benadryl elixir. Although it has not been extensively studied in children, it has been used in little ones (including under two) for decades. It's sedating, though, and I would definitely get her doctor's opinion before using it. The second generation (non-sedating) antihistamines don't work well for motion sickness.

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I suggest that you explore some fun things she can do inside or near the car. I tried and it worked for me. What I did,

  1. I made her familiar with my car (SUV).
  2. I let her participate in car wash(just for fun, not actual car wash)
  3. I play jingles, cartoon character voices, poems, TV ads in car stereo.
  4. I always stop car, after 1 or 2 hours ride, to get some fresh air
  5. I bring kids of her age in car (mostly relatives who she knows by face.)
  6. Nice sparkling lights, toys etc
  7. Make her familiar with other objects on road, like some small car, kids with their parents, hotels, shops etc

There are so many other things you can do, to make CAR ride a joyful ride, not just a means of transport.

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