How to Hold Your Child During Vaccination

Parents can hold their child during vaccinations in recommended ways, which may reduce the child’s stress and help healthcare professionals more easily administer shots.

Mother holding infant son.

Benefits of holding your child

Parents and caregivers play an important role when children receive vaccines.

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

Suggested holds or embraces

Use a different hold depending on the age and size of your child. Please note that the comforting holds shown below are suggestions, not guidelines. Some health care professionals may prefer to use different holds or have the child on the exam table when administering vaccines.

Mother holding child while getting vaccinated.

Older Children

If the child is getting a shot in an arm:

  1. Hold the child on your lap or have the child stand in front of you as you sit.
  2. Embrace your child during the process.
  3. Anchor both of the child’s legs between your thighs.
mother holding infant while getting vaccinated.

Infants and Toddlers

If your child is getting a shot in a leg, you can:

  1. Hold the child on your lap.
  2. Place the child’s arm under your armpit and apply gentle pressure with your upper arm for a secure, hug-like hold.
  3. Use your lower arm and hand to hold the child’s other arm gently but securely.
  4. Anchor the child’s feet firmly between your thighs or hold securely with your other hand.