9 Things to Make Shots Less Stressful... For You and Your Baby

Learn about simple ways you can support your child before, during, and after shots.

Learn about simple ways you can support your child before, during, and after shots.
Read up

#1. Read Up

Take a moment to read this helpful document Cdc-pdf[2 pages] before your visit, and read any vaccine information provided by your healthcare professional. Your healthcare professional should have helpful information and can describe possible side effects your child may experience. You can also find credible information on this CDC website. The more informed you are about vaccinations, the better you may feel.

Ask for a sweet solution.

#2. Ask for a Sweet Solution

Did you know tasting something sweet can help reduce your little one’s pain response? Ask your child’s doctor to give your child a sweet solution of sucrose or glucose one to two minutes before the shot. Even a very small amount of this solution can reduce your child’s pain during shots.

Ask for a sweet solution.


#3. Breastfeed

If you breastfeed your baby, breastfeeding may be a great way to calm and relax your child. Breastfeeding can help distract your baby and provides comforting close contact. Additionally, breastmilk has a slight sweetness which can help reduce your child’s pain during shots.

Ask for a pain-relieving ointment.

#4. Ask For a Pain-Relieving Ointment

If you are concerned about your child’s pain during vaccinations, ask your child’s health care professional for a pain-relieving ointment. Because you may need a prescription for it and the ointment takes time to work, ask about it before your next well-child visit. The ointment blocks pain signals from the skin so children can get shots with less pain. You can also ask for a cooling spray (vapocoolant) on your child’s arm or leg right before the shots. Cooling sprays are also very effective in reducing pain when children get shots. Using an ointment or cooling spray may lower the chances your child will develop a fear of shots and may reduce stress before well-check visits.

Ask for a pain-relieving ointment.

Be honest

#5. Be Honest and Calm

Kids are super smart. Take some time to explain in simple terms what to expect. Explain that your child may feel a little pinch and it will go away very fast. Use words like “pressure” or “poke” rather than “pain” or “shot.” Even if your baby can’t understand you just yet, your calming, reassuring voice will make your baby feel more at ease. Children often consider their parents’ moods when experiencing the world around them. Hugs, cuddles, soft whispers, and a calm, reassuring attitude will help ease children through the vaccination process. Never tell scary stories about shots, make threats about shots, or apologize because this could worry your child and increase their pain. Remain upbeat and relaxed before, during, and especially after shots. Let your child know everything is ok.

Bring their favorite things

#6. Bring Their Favorite Things

Whether it’s a toy, a cuddly blanket, or a familiar book, use your baby’s favorite things to keep your baby’s mind off of what’s going on and let your baby focus on something comforting instead. Make sure to check with your doctor before bringing items into the room with you.

Bring their favorite things

Distract your child

#7. Distract Your Child

Parents are the masters of distraction—use this skill! Pick a careful time to call your child’s name right before the shot, sing your child’s favorite song, or just act plain silly to pull your child’s attention away from the shot giver. Keep the distraction going after vaccine is given.

Big kids need support too

#8. Big Kids Need Support Too

If your child is older, you can take deep breaths with them to help “blow out” the pain. Have them imagine the pain is leaving their mouth as they breathe out. You also can point out interesting things in the room to help create distractions (see tip #6). You can even tell or read stories. Remember to pack their favorite book!

Big kids need support too

Care after the shot counts too

#9. Care After the Shot Counts Too

Swaddling is a great technique to calm young infants after shots. Swaddling mimics conditions in the womb, reminding your baby of before they were born and putting them more at ease. Sometimes children have mild reactions from vaccines, such as pain where the shot was given, a rash, or a fever. These reactions are normal and will usually go away soon. Once you and your child get home after your vaccination appointment, you can use a cool, wet cloth to ease redness, soreness, and swelling in the place where the shot was given. Reduce any fevers with a cool sponge bath. If your health care professional approves, give non-aspirin pain reliever. You also can read them stories, cuddle and praise them, and show them some extra attention. Contact your health care professional if anything concerns you.

Learn what vaccines your child needs and how vaccines Protect Your Child At Every Age.

Page last reviewed: September 26, 2018