3 year old complains of back pain in car seat (and sometimes pukes)

kmlcu

New member
Hello all,
I have been searching the internet regarding my daughter and her car seat, and found this site - thank you! I've read related threads, and am going to try a couple of the suggestions on our next hour+ trip (turning rear facing, or a foot rest).

However, I haven't seen any threads that mention a child also throwing up, and I wanted to ask about this... I'll provide some background, as I assume that will help. (And thank you in advance!)

DD is 3 years old, 36", and 27 pounds (yes, very light). We turned her forward facing when she was 2 and over 25 pounds. She hasn't had problems at all until about 3 weeks ago. Now she complains of back pain (lower back, slightly above the tailbone) when we're in the car for more than 30 minutes. It seems to be worse in my husband's car, and also worse when she doesn't know where we're going (meaning, the place we go is unfamiliar... Ikea, a friend's house she doesn't know...) So we think in some ways this is slightly stress/boredom related.

However, 2 of the last 3 trips (the first two, before we were catching on), she'd start complaining about 15 minutes into the drive (and you know how three year olds can whine persistently). We tried to distract her but couldn't. At 30 minutes into the drive, she puked. :eek:

We got out, cleaned her up, changed her, and then said we'd go back home. She says "no, I feel fine, I want to go!" And then she's fine most of the way there. No problems on the way home.

Last weekend, we went on a 30 minute trip and I gave her sea bands (calling them "magic bands.") These kept her from complaining the first 15 minutes; then we stopped and used "magic lotion" which helped for the next 10 minutes. (Then we were there.) I know this may be catering to the whining, but I do not want to clean puke out of the car again.

She never complains about her back outside the car seat. She's got a very strong stomach - eats and then rides the carousel (and this has been done in the last 3 weeks). Has anyone else seen this or something like it? The nurse said this is probably her being 3 and wanting attention, but if it keeps up, we should come in. And I realize I'm writing prematurely, because perhaps a footrest will solve it. But you seem so friendly and helpful in posts, that I wanted to ask!

Thank you very much!:D
 
ADS

MommyShannon

New member
What seats does she ride in? The only things I can think that might cause the back pain are her legs dangling or a lock off not closed tightly if her seat has them. You could use a rolled up sleeping bag as a footrest. Can you keep cold air blowing on her face? It might partly be car sickness though I don't know why it would have just started. Are you dressing her warmer than usual or something? I'd consider rearfacing her so her legs have more support and she can lay back and rest.
 

kmlcu

New member
Thanks! (I should consider opening the window, it's just cold - we're in CT).

I should have mentioned - she's in an Evenflo Tribute 5 (forward facing) in my car, and an Evenflo Maestro Booster (but in it as a 5 point harness - this is a convertible booster, and we haven't converted it yet) in my husband's car. She seems to have less back pain in my car, but we also don't do long trips in it, so that could just be a coincidence.
 

abigaylebelle

Active member
Oh man I feel for you guys. Puke in the carseat is the worst!

A couple of thoughts. First where in the car is her carseat located? Is she in the center or outboard? I find center to be the best place to see out the front window. Also since both of her carseats are relatively low profile if she is outboard she might be unable to see much which contributes to the sick feeling.

Second, is she able to sit criss cross in her seats? My older kid always sits criss cross on long drives to prevent his back from hurting.

My last thought was that maybe the unknown distance is making her feel anxious and the anxiety is making her stomach upset. Perhaps if she knew what time you'll arrive and what to expect when she gets there she wouldn't be as worried. This might not be the case but I thought I would throw it out there. Best of luck to you all.
 

Brigala

Well-known member
I have a son with an anxiety disorder, which wasn't diagnosed until he was a teenager but in hindsight I can see some of his odd childhood behaviors as related to the anxiety.

One of the things he used to do (although he was significantly older than your daughter when this started) was to come down with physical ailments such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, earaches, and dizziness when faced with "new" situations. These were not made-up and were not ways to get out of stuff. He missed things he was really excited about because he was "too sick" to go. Even though the symptoms were psychosomatic, they were not "faking it." They were very very real. I think he still has this problem, but as an adult most of the time he recognizes it for what it is and has learned to suck it up and deal with it, knowing it will go away once he's overcome the initial anxiety attack.

I do not think that things you do to help her cope with the anxiety are going to make it worse. If the "magic bands" and "magic lotion" help her cope, awesome. Some homeopathic anti-nausea remedy or anti-anxiety remedies might also help. They may actually help, or they may just be the placebo she needs, but either way it wouldn't hurt to try.

My son has been reluctant to try any anxiety medications for his symptoms, but he's done pretty well working with a naturopathic doctor and getting supplements that reduce the severity.

A foot rest or trying her in a rear-facing position are worth a shot also.
 

kmlcu

New member
Thank you all! I changed her to forward facing over the weekend and gave her a footrest. So far so good. The big test will be when we go on a 30+ minute drive

:)
 

kmlcu

New member
To Brigala,
Do you have any suggestions that might help regarding the anxiety? What you explained sounds very familiar. Amy is very worried about new things, especially as related to social situations. However, once she's comfortable,she's bossy and daring and brazen. I almost wonder if we are somehow contributing without meaning to.

Thank you!
 

Brigala

Well-known member
Not a lot, especially at that age. My son's anxiety didn't get really obvious until he was older. Other than some potty training issues at that age which were definitely anxiety related, the first real issues started cropping up well into grade school.

I found the "placebo effect" to be one of my best tools, though. I really think you were on to something with the magic bands and magic lotion. Later, when he was old enough to sort of be wise to placebos, homeopathic remedies seemed to help. I have no clue whether it just extended the placebo thing or whether they actually do something, but either way it was effective.

Yoga has been suggested to him several times by neurologists and naturopaths alike, but he refuses to try it. :shrug-shoulders:
 

henrietta

New member
Just fyi, I'm coming from a place of *not* believing kids puke for attention. I think that is total bs and I would have probably told the nurse to shove it. Who wants to vomit?? That's so stupid.

That said, the behaviors that lead up to the vomiting could be attention seeking, so I would ask and try to figure out what's bothering her. 3 year olds are much more aware, so anxiety is not uncommon. Anything you can do to help her combat her anxiety about the car ride could be helpful. Tell her where you're going ahead of time, give her fun distractions to play with, teach her a way to know when the trip is almost over (a visual can be really good, like put "tickets" on a piece of cardboard and every 5 minutes of the trip, hand her a ticket to hold, showing her that there are less on the board and that you are closer to being there). There's a hundred varieties of that. What works best for you will depend on the length of the trip and how upset she is, as well as if you have a helper in the car with you! LOL

I actually have an 8.5 year old with high functioning autism, sensory issues, and anxiety disorder. He has vomited just from *thinking* about getting overheated. We had a really hot summer here one year and he was playing outside for just a few minutes and he threw up. After that, just stepping out the back door in the heat to walk to the car (20 steps, max, and I've already cooled the car itself down) and vomited. It can become a conditioned response. What you did with the sea bands and special lotion combined with a short trip is the correct "way" for counteracting that conditioned response and reconditioning. You want her to have many short successful trips, even if they are just down to the end of the driveway and back! It took us about a year and a half to "undo" that one summer. ;) Several people suggested that he was vomiting "on purpose" so that he didn't have to go anywhere (sometimes he really fights us about going somewhere), but it was total bs, b/c once he had thrown up and/or we were there, he was 100% fine! ;)

Another thing that might need checked is her seats--pull the cover back and look behind it. As they grow taller, sometimes the pieces of the seat behind them fit differently and feel different. Maybe the harness needs to be moved up a bit. Maybe a piece of padding has slipped down. Maybe there's an extra piece of removeable padding you've forgotten about that is now bothering her.

FWIW, if anxiety continues to bother her and you have to listen to others criticize you and tell you that you're the cause, I'd suggest developing a thick skin and ignoring those who know nothing about behavior. Waffling back and forth on how to help her will only increase her anxiety, so feel free to make a mommy decision with your heart and ignore everyone else. Other than that, try reassuring her just a few times (consider setting a limit, like 3 times) and then move on and do what you need to do. That way, you aren't feeling stressed from going over and over something (even though you might still be a little bit) and she's seeing that you are OK and think things will be OK.

GL!

(And adding, regarding medications...I'm not dx'ing your dd, b/c many kids go thru a period of anxiety when they're little, but sometimes others reading threads find something that speaks to them that will help. (-; My son still has anxiety attacks at times, but they are rare. At age 4 he was dx w/his issues, including anxiety disorder and we started meds for anxiety 6 months later. They really did help!! He takes a small amount of Zoloft daily and went from crying from anxiety for hours a day to smiling and happy and telling us "I feel so happy! I feel better!" I was really scared of it, but it was so worth it for him.)
 
A

Aloyer27

Guest
Hello all,
I have been searching the internet regarding my daughter and her car seat, and found this site - thank you! I've read related threads, and am going to try a couple of the suggestions on our next hour+ trip (turning rear facing, or a foot rest).

However, I haven't seen any threads that mention a child also throwing up, and I wanted to ask about this... I'll provide some background, as I assume that will help. (And thank you in advance!)

DD is 3 years old, 36", and 27 pounds (yes, very light). We turned her forward facing when she was 2 and over 25 pounds. She hasn't had problems at all until about 3 weeks ago. Now she complains of back pain (lower back, slightly above the tailbone) when we're in the car for more than 30 minutes. It seems to be worse in my husband's car, and also worse when she doesn't know where we're going (meaning, the place we go is unfamiliar... Ikea, a friend's house she doesn't know...) So we think in some ways this is slightly stress/boredom related.

However, 2 of the last 3 trips (the first two, before we were catching on), she'd start complaining about 15 minutes into the drive (and you know how three year olds can whine persistently). We tried to distract her but couldn't. At 30 minutes into the drive, she puked. :eek:

We got out, cleaned her up, changed her, and then said we'd go back home. She says "no, I feel fine, I want to go!" And then she's fine most of the way there. No problems on the way home.

Last weekend, we went on a 30 minute trip and I gave her sea bands (calling them "magic bands.") These kept her from complaining the first 15 minutes; then we stopped and used "magic lotion" which helped for the next 10 minutes. (Then we were there.) I know this may be catering to the whining, but I do not want to clean puke out of the car again.

She never complains about her back outside the car seat. She's got a very strong stomach - eats and then rides the carousel (and this has been done in the last 3 weeks). Has anyone else seen this or something like it? The nurse said this is probably her being 3 and wanting attention, but if it keeps up, we should come in. And I realize I'm writing prematurely, because perhaps a footrest will solve it. But you seem so friendly and helpful in posts, that I wanted to ask!

Thank you very much!:D
I know this thread is old, but I am having the same exact issues with my 3 year old. He complains of back pain after 20 Minutes in the car, he has thrown up as well. I am hesitant to do a bunch of testing on him because he has no pain or complaints when out of his car seat. I even bought him a new 5 point harness Chico booster, to make sure it wasn’t his old seat. I’m wondering how everything turned out for you, was it just motion sickness or something else? Did anything eventually help?
Thanks!!
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
I know this thread is old, but I am having the same exact issues with my 3 year old. He complains of back pain after 20 Minutes in the car, he has thrown up as well. I am hesitant to do a bunch of testing on him because he has no pain or complaints when out of his car seat. I even bought him a new 5 point harness Chico booster, to make sure it wasn’t his old seat. I’m wondering how everything turned out for you, was it just motion sickness or something else? Did anything eventually help?
Thanks!!
The OP is unlikely to see this, FYI.

Back pain with vomiting is quite likely motion sickness, possibly with a positional component.
 

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