Receiving shots is never fun and can be a source of anxiety for many young children. Some children even dread normal doctor’s visits because they associate it with the pain and stress of vaccine injection. We all wish we could completely eliminate our children’s pain, but there are ways to lessen the drama of getting a shot. Here are some tried and true ways to keep your child’s (and your) stress levels down during vaccination appointments!
- If you have an older child, explain to them what is going to happen before you get to the office. Be honest and say that it might pinch a little, but the pain won’t last long. It’s best to have this discussion in the morning the day of the appointment, so they don’t have time to overstress days before the appointment.
- While in the office, reassure your child that you are there to comfort them. You should hold their hand or rub their back to soothe them. Try to maintain constant eye contact and smile frequently to reassure them that nothing bad will happen.
- Ask your doctor about pain-relieving strategies, like giving babies a pacifier dipped in sugar water, or lollipops for older children before the shot (sugar is said to lessen the pain!) Shot blockers are also an effective tool to lessen the pain..
- Pack your child’s favorite toy, blanket or book for them to hold while they are getting their shot. You can also point out pictures or signs in the room to keep them distracted from looking at the needle.
- If possible, hold your child on your lap while they are receiving the shot. The CDC has a guide for how to hold children depending on their age.
- Sing or talk softly to your child; the sound of your voice will comfort them during any pain they experience. If they are old enough, encourage them to imagine their “happy place” and pretend they are there.
- Teach your child to take deep breaths and count down from ten to help them reduce the pain. Tell them that once they get to zero, the pain will be all gone!
- After the visit, cuddle and support your child. Praise them for how brave they were throughout the appointment. Keep an eye on your child for any side effects, most of which will go away on their own within a few days. Make sure they get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Use a cool, wet cloth to reduce swelling. After the injection site has healed, try our dry skin rescue cream to help reduce redness and irritation.
Lastly, we also recommend saving a surprise (ice cream definitely helps) for after the visit, so they are quickly distracted from the stress of getting the shot. This way, next time they’ll focus on the reward and not on the pain!