How to Hold Your Child During Vaccinations

Father holds his smiling baby closely in his arms.

Parents and caregivers play an important role when children receive vaccines. They can soothe and comfort their children, making them feel safe and secure. Parents can also help health care professionals safely deliver vaccines by securely holding children when shots are given.

A parent’s embrace during vaccination offers several benefits. A comforting hold:

  • Safely prevents children from moving their arms and legs during injections
  • Avoids frightening children by embracing them rather than overpowering them
  • Encourages parents to nurture and comfort their child
  • Allows the health care professional steady control of the limb and the injection site

Use a different hold depending on the age and size of your child. The steps below detail how parents can support their child and make the vaccination process less stressful on them and their children.

mother holding infant while getting vaccinated

For Infants and Toddlers who are getting a vaccine in a leg, parents can:

  1. Hold the child on their lap.
  2. Place the child’s arms under one of their own arms and around their back and apply gentle pressure for a secure, hug-like hold.
  3. Use their free arm and hand to hold the child’s other arm gently but securely.
  4. Anchor the child’s feet firmly between their thighs.
Mother holding child while getting vaccinated

For Older Children who are getting a vaccine in an arm, parents can:

  1. Hold their child on their lap, or have the child stand in front of the seated parent.
  2. Embrace their child during the process.
  3. Anchor both of the child’s legs between their thighs.

Note: The comforting holds outlined above are suggestions, not guidelines. Some health care professionals may prefer to use different holds or have the child on the exam table when administering immunizations.

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Page last reviewed: June 1, 2012