Having a toddler who feels unwell on a trip can be one of the worst experiences for a parent. When your child gets motion sickness, jet lag, or fatigue every time you take a trip, it can feel like an endless cycle of misery. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
With patience and proper preparation, you can help prevent and manage travel-induced unwellness in your toddler.
Below, we’ll provide information on the different types of unwellness, their symptoms, and how to prevent them. You’ll also get tips on what to do when your toddler does get sick while travelling.
- What are the signs of motion sickness?
- How can you help toddlers to beat motion sickness?
- Six tips to prevent motion sickness for toddlers
Motion Sickness in Toddlers
Motion sickness happens when the brain receives conflicting messages about body movement and the environment you are in. The car or a rollercoaster carriage is moving but your toddler’s brain doesn’t process the information correctly, which leads to dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
What are the signs of motion sickness?
Be aware of some of the most common signs of motion sickness in toddlers, such as yawning, burping, sighing, fussiness, and paleness. These are usually the earliest indicators that your toddler may be about to experience motion sickness.
How can you help toddlers to beat motion sickness ?
If you notice your toddler is motion sick, it’s important to act quickly and find a quiet, motion-free spot to help them feel better. Help your toddler walk around or lie down with their eyes closed and, if possible, place a cool cloth on their forehead.
If your toddler throws up, remain calm and keep them hydrated. Small amounts of water should be given in 15 minute intervals to prevent further vomiting, as excessive vomiting can lead to dehydration.
Six tips to prevent motion sickness for toddlers:
- Shorter car rides
- Keep them away from looking down
- Leave the window open for some fresh air
- Provide a small snack before the drive
- Schedule car rides around nap time
- Get a doctor-prescribed nausea medicine
The general age when kids get motion sickness is 6-12 years, however, babies and toddlers are not exempt from it. It can happen on any sort of transportation like a car or boat or even on rollercoasters.
If your toddler suffers from motion sickness, there are a few things you can do to help prevent it:
1. Plan shorter car rides
Plan ahead to reduce motion sickness in toddlers by scheduling shorter car rides. Take frequent stops along the way to allow your little one to take a break, stretch their legs, and get some fresh air. Other parents have found that having breaks every 30 minutes helps immensely.
2. Keep them entertained and away from looking down
Reduce your toddler’s chances of feeling car sick by keeping them entertained and preventing them from looking down. Playing music and audible books will give kids something to focus on and keep their eyes wandering ahead.
Sing-a-longs, games like I Spy, and other activities will help them stay engaged and focused on the road ahead. Sitting in the backseat of a car makes it difficult for your toddler to get an accurate visual representation of the car’s movement, so having them look at something straight ahead is key.
Additionally, avoid having your toddler look down at books, tablets, or toys during long car journeys as it can make car sickness worse.
3. Leave the window open for some fresh air
Fresh air can slightly ease motion sickness symptoms for your toddler. Make sure windows are open to allow air to circulate. Letting in the cool fresh air helps avoid strong odours that induce nausea.
4. Provide a small snack before the drive
Providing a small, bland snack before a car ride can help keep toddler’s content during the journey. Avoid giving your toddler anything too heavy, as this could result in them vomiting. Good snack options include nuts, seeds, and plain yoghurt.
5. Schedule car rides around nap time
Schedule car rides around your toddler’s nap time to maximise their comfort and minimise the risk of car sickness. By planning your car rides around their nap schedule, you can ensure that your toddler has the best chance at a comfortable ride, and you can even extend your car rides beyond 30 minutes.
6. Get a doctor-prescribed nausea medicine
If none of the above tips help to ease your toddler’s nausea, it may be time to consult your doctor. Your healthcare provider can provide you with nausea medicine, which should be taken half an hour before any car or boat ride. It is important to discuss this option with your healthcare provider, as it could be a necessary course of action for your child.
Jet Lag in Toddlers
Jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder that can occur after travelling across multiple time zones. Symptoms of jet lag may include insomnia, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. Jet lag can also cause digestive issues, headaches, and irritability.
Jet lag can be a challenge for both adults and children, especially toddlers. If not dealt with properly, jet lag can cause your toddler to become tired and cranky, making for a less than ideal travel experience.
Fortunately, there are several things to do ahead of travel and during your trip to make it easier for your toddler to adapt to a new time zone.
3 tips to prepare your toddler for jet lag:
- Adjust your toddler’s sleep schedule before you leave
- Sleep well before departure
- Consider night flights
1. Adjust your toddler’s sleep schedule before you leave
Start preparing your toddler’s sleep schedule early by gradually making small adjustments to their routine before your trip. This will help reduce the effects of jet lag when you arrive at your destination.
2. Sleep well before departure
Start on the right foot by making sure you and your toddler are well-rested. Being tired from the get-go will only make jet lag in babies and toddlers worse.
3. Consider night flights
Depending on where you’re going, evening or late-night flights can be a blessing to parents. Night flights are a great way to battle jet lag because they can help to reset your and your toddlers’ body’s natural clock. By taking a night flight, your body is able to adjust to the new time zone faster and more effectively, allowing you to make the most of your trip!
Tips for dealing with Jet Lagged Toddlers
1. Gradually adjust their body clock by exposing them to local time as soon as you arrive. This can include avoiding naps when it’s not nap time at your destination and encouraging them to stay active during the day.
2. Spend time outside to help reset their internal clock. Sunlight plays a key role in this process and will help both you and your toddler adjust faster.
3. Implement a familiar bedtime routine. This may include a bath, feed, story and bed, and even packing something familiar from home such as your toddler’s crib sheet. The familiar smell may be calming and help them sleep better.
4. Avoid overtired toddlers and look out for sleepy cues such as yawning, eye rubbing and fussiness.
5. Burn off the energy. Keeping your toddler active during the day is essential to helping them adjust. Head out for a walk or to the playground, park or pool and let them crawl or toddle around to use up some energy.
Fatigue in Toddlers during travelling
Travelling with a toddler can be a challenge, and fatigue is often a common symptom. While it’s not necessarily an illness, it can be disruptive to your travel plans and make for a cranky and overtired toddler.
To make the transition smoother, it’s important to adjust your attitudes and expectations in advance, as travelling with a toddler can be very different from travelling solo. Make sure to plan ahead, factor in plenty of breaks, and be prepared to adjust your itinerary if needed.
Tips on how to prevent toddlers from feeling fatigued:
- Keep to a routine as much as possible
- Consider bringing a toddler travel bed
- Book a room in a quiet section (if possible)
- Have access to a baby carrier or a stroller
To ensure that your toddler isn’t feeling fatigued during your travels, try these tips:
1. Keep to a routine as much as possible
It’s important to keep toddlers on a consistent, familiar routine. This helps them be more comfortable with their surroundings, even when they are in a new environment. Make sure to incorporate nap time around their regular schedule, and give yourself a little extra time for them to fall asleep. Also, have a consistent wind-down, and an age-appropriate bedtime, so your toddler is well-rested when you arrive at your destination.
2. Consider bringing a toddler travel bed
Bringing a travel bed for your toddler can make it even easier for them to settle in a new environment. Have a few trial runs at home to get your toddler used to their travel bed, and make sure they feel secure in their own space. Having something familiar will make it easier for them to fall asleep and prevent fatigue.
3. Book a room in a quiet section
When booking, call the hotel or your place of choice and ask around what the area is like. If there are rooms that have windows to a quieter side instead of the pool area, take it. Generally, rooms close to the pool, restaurant, stairs or elevator have more foot traffic and are noisier. Choosing a quieter room will make a big difference in helping your toddler sleep better.
4. Have access to a baby carrier or a stroller
Depending on your travel plans, luggage space, etc. you can either bring a baby carrier or a stroller or even rent one out when you reach the destination. This will come in handy, especially when exploring foreign cities, as your toddler will have to move constantly, and probably much more than at home.
Calmly navigate your toddler’s travel hiccups
No matter what happens, it’s essential to remain calm when your toddler is experiencing motion sickness, fatigue, or jet lag. Showing fear will only make them more scared, so take a deep breath and be the pillar of support they need.
If they’re throwing up in the car or got sunburnt, try your best to stay composed and reassure them that everything will be okay.
Even if you get a little frustrated, remember that you can always come back to these tips to help you cope. With some rest and support, your toddler will soon be feeling better and so will you.