Comforting Your Child during their Immunizations
Immunizations are necessary to protect your child against potentially serious illnesses, such as measles and pertussis. Yet they are also unpleasant to get – especially for children. No one likes being poked with a needle, and children are bound to respond to getting shots with a lot of screaming and crying. They can remain upset long after the visit is over.
Skipping the immunizations is not an option, but you can make the whole ordeal a little easier on your children. Here are a few ways you can comfort your children during their immunizations, depending on their ages:
Babies up to 12 months old can take getting an immunization especially hard. They get a lot of shots at one time, and they don’t understand what’s happening. They just feel that pain, and it is exacerbated by their confusion.
You can make it a little easier on your baby by ensuring that he or she has had a nap and is well-fed before the appointment. If your baby is breastfed, you might consider breastfeeding after the immunizations to comfort your baby. If your baby is bottle-fed, consider using a pacifier. Distract your baby with a toy while he or she is getting the shot, and then snuggle close after the shot has been given. Your baby will settle much more quickly when you are there to provide love and comfort.
Children between one and three can understand a bit about why they need to get immunizations, but they will still have a hard time dealing with getting them. Don’t tell your young child that they are getting shots until just before you get to the doctor’s office. When you do explain about the shot, say that the doctor is going to give them medicine and they will feel a little prick. Using the word “shot” and saying that it might “hurt” can make your child feel alarmed and may exaggerate the experience.
Help your child feel calm leading up to and during the immunization by reading a book or talking about fun things. Make sure a fun band-aid is put on the puncture site to assuage fears about blood or leaking. Follow up the visit by giving your child a sticker or special treat.
Children ages three to nine can much better understand the need for immunizations, so explaining why they are important can help somewhat. However, children this age will still have strong feelings about getting immunizations, and you should continue to avoid words like “shot” and “hurt,” opting instead for the same description used with toddlers.
Use the same distraction techniques to make your child feel calm. Act confident yourself, and don’t be overly reassuring or you may alarm your child. Consider doing something fun or getting a treat after the visit is over.
Older Children and Teens
Older children and teens rarely have to get shots – just the occasional booster. They also have a more “grown up” approach to going to the doctor and are better able to tolerate minor pain. However, if you have an older child or teen who struggles with going to the doctor, you can try out relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or thinking about pleasant places or things. You may bring along a handheld video game to help your child stay distracted during the shot. Or you can just talk to your child about what methods would be most helpful to ease his or her anxiety.
No matter the age of your child, going to a trusted family doctor who is compassionate and understands how to work with children will make a big difference. Start with finding the right family doctor and then use these techniques to help your child feel better about getting necessary immunizations. The whole family will have an easier time during these visits as a result.
East Mesa Family Doctors specializes in treating the whole family. Our compassionate doctors and nurses use methods to make visits easier on young children, who may be scared of things like getting shots or just seeing a doctor at all. We also treat the parents, making it easy for you to get needed health care for the whole family. Contact our East Mesa family clinic today to make an appointment for yourself or others in your family.
East Mesa Family Doctors
8035 E. Brown Road, Building 4, #101
Mesa, AZ 85207