Tips for a Less Stressful Shot Visit
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Making the choice to vaccinate your child is vital for their health and well-being. Even so, getting shots can still be stressful for you and your little one. Fortunately, there are simple ways you can support your child before, during, and after shots.
Before Getting Shots
Come prepared! Take these steps before your child gets a shot to help make the immunization visit less stressful on you both.
Help children see vaccines as a good thing. Never threaten your child with shots, by saying “If you misbehave I will have the nurse give you a shot.” Instead, remind children that vaccines can keep them healthy.
Ways to soothe your baby:
- Skin-to-skin contact
- Offering a sweet beverage, like juice (when the child is older than 6 months)
Your health care professional may cool or numb the injection site to reduce the pain associated with your child’s shots.
- Read any vaccine materials you received from your child’s health care professional and write down any questions you may have.
- Find your child’s personal immunization record and bring it to your appointment. An up-to-date record tells your doctor exactly what shots your child has already received.
- Pack a favorite toy or book, and a blanket that your child uses regularly to comfort your child.
For older children
- Be honest with your child. Explain that shots can pinch or
sting, but that it won’t hurt for long.
- Engage other family members, especially older siblings, to support your child.
- Avoid telling scary stories or making threats about shots.
At the Doctor’s Office
If you have questions about immunizations, ask your child’s doctor or nurse. Before you leave the appointment, ask your child’s doctor for advice on using non-aspirin pain reliever and other steps you can take at home to comfort your child.
Try these ideas for making the shots easier on your child.
- Distract and comfort your child by cuddling, singing, or
- Smile and make eye contact with your child. Let your child know that everything is ok.
- Comfort your child with a favorite toy or book. A blanket that smells familiar will help your child feel more comfortable.
- Hold your child firmly on your lap, whenever possible.
For older children
Remember to schedule your next visit!
Staying current with your child’s immunizations
provides the best protection against disease.
- Take deep breaths with your child to help "blow out"
- Point out interesting things in the room to help
- Tell or read stories.
- Support your child if he or she cries. Never scold
a child for not "being brave."
Once your child has received all of the shots, be especially
supportive. Hold, cuddle, and, for infants, breastfeed or offer a
bottle. A soothing voice, combined with praise and hugs will
help reassure your child that everything is ok.
Take a moment to read the Vaccine Information
Sheet your health care professional gives you
during your visit. This sheet has helpful
information and describes possible side effects
your child may experience.
After the Shots
Sometimes children experience mild reactions from vaccines, such
as pain at the injection site, a rash or a fever. These reactions are
normal and will soon go away. The following tips will help you
identify and minimize mild side effects.
- Review any information your doctor gives you
about the shots, especially the Vaccine Information
Statements or other sheets that outline which side
effects might be expected.
- Use a cool, wet cloth to reduce redness, soreness,
and swelling in the place where the shot was given.
- Reduce any fever with a cool sponge bath. If your
doctor approves, give non-aspirin pain reliever.
- Give your child lots of liquid. It’s normal for some
children to eat less during the 24 hours after
- Pay extra attention to your child for a few days. If you
see something that concerns you, call your doctor.
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