Baby Steps

Making your child’s vaccinations less stressful

Going to the doctor’s office isn’t usually something that children look forward to, and when you add vaccinations to the mix, the trip can get downright messy, usually ending in tears. However, vaccines can prevent many potentially harmful diseases, and are a necessity in today’s society. Luckily for parents, there are several ways they can help soothe their child—both before the vaccines and during—to make the experience more pleasant for everyone involved.

August is National Vaccination Awareness Month, and in honor of that we’ve compiled a few tips that will help make your next trip to the doctor’s office for vaccinations less stressful for both parents and children:

  • Breastfeed your baby while they’re being injected, or hold your baby and give them a pacifier. The skin-on-skin contact, as well as the act of suckling, releases oxytocin in the baby’s brain that acts as a natural pain reliever.
  • Bring your child’s favorite toy. Having a snuggly stuffed animal to hold can help your child relax and feel comforted while being vaccinated. Some doctors also recommend giving older children a pinwheel to blow while getting a vaccine, as this can help them “blow out the pain.”
  • Talk to your toddler the day before and explain to them exactly what’s going to happen. If they go in knowing that there will be a small pinch of pain, they’ll be prepared for it mentally, and won’t panic thinking the pain will be more than it actually is.
  • Maintain eye contact and talk with them while the shot is being administered. It’s easier for the child if they don’t watch the needle go in to their arm. Speak to them in low, soothing tones.
  • Even if your child throws a fit, comfort them after the shot has been administered and hold them. Negative emotions will create negative memories for future vaccination trips, causing a lasting effect.
  • Go for a treat afterwards. Sometimes it helps a child knowing that something happy will happen after they get their vaccines. Whether it’s a sticker or lollipop from the doctor, or going out for ice cream, this gives younger child something to look forward too, instead of simply dreading doctor visit days.

Going to the doctor is never fun, but it doesn’t have to be a frightening and stressful experience. For even more comfort tricks, check out the Center for Disease Control’s tip sheet. To learn more about family health and parenting tips and advice, visit us at Any Baby Can and register for one of our affordable parenting classes, or give us a call at 512.454.3743.

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