Kids and Car Sickness

Have you seen these signs? At one of my past jobs, there was a sign that read “Days Without Incident” with a blank spot for the number of days since the last work injury. We never used it, but I’m getting one and hanging it from my rear view mirror. We’ve been battling sporadic car sickness which has resulted in an array of bodily fluids having to be cleaned out of a car seat. WHY are those things so hard to clean? On top of that, it’s gross. Very gross. And such a pain to take care of.

Stripping down the car seat is such a process. And then there are the straps. Obviously, safety is of the utmost concern so I did a lot of reading about how to best clean the harness. The elasticity of the straps helps reduce the force on the body in the event of a collision. That’s why they can’t just be tossed in the washing machine. Bleach and vinegar are also problematic. I use a rag and some gentle soap and wipe carefully. I submerge the buckle in a cup of water (plastic only, not the straps) to clean that part out. A little fresh air and the sun helps too with the dreaded smell.

I’ve learned preventing as much transfer to the seat is the easiest. I keep a silicone bib in the car and a couple of extra towels. When I know he’s not 100% but we have to drive somewhere, I place the towel on him and put the bib on. He doesn’t love this option, but it does work. 

The hardest thing about it is my sympathy for my little guy. It’s so hard to see him in such discomfort. As a kid, I can remember a lot of instances of car sickness myself, and I still get it if I try to read in the car or do too much scrolling on my phone on a long ride. It’s miserable, and I never want him to feel this way. 

I set out to find ways to settle his stomach. For my son, car sickness is often triggered by a cold when he has lots of drainage so I try to combat the congestion. My favorite method is to take an extra home day when he’s sick and snuggle on the couch, but unfortunately, that isn’t always an option. I heard moving him to forward-facing, or into the middle seat could help. This wasn’t feasible for a small 13-month-old (again, safety). I try to be sure he has something in his stomach before getting in the car. I give him water for the ride, but again, he’s 1 so it often gets thrown immediately. While I was pregnant, those nausea sea bracelets helped me so I searched and found out they do make a child’s size version which I may try when he’s bigger. 

I found myself becoming overly worried about it. I didn’t want to drive anywhere because I didn’t want to make him sick. Can we still go to this special event? Will it affect our upcoming vacation? I started to spiral, but then I realized something. Mommin’ ain’t easy, and this is just another curveball. Another example of something you have no control over. You can try to prepare for it the best you can, and go on with life as usual. If it happens, you deal with it and move on. As unpleasant as it is, I feel like it’s another mom badge. It’s a gold star that says, “I handled that like a boss.” We’ve all been through some version of this, and came out the other side. But alas, fluids happen. So the next time you’re in the bodily fluid trenches, know that you’re amazing and strong, and your little is so lucky to have you to clean up after them. 

Does car sickness factor into your road trip plans? What tips have you found useful in the prevention and clean up?


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