Skip to content

Children's Health

Font Size

Helping Children During Immunizations - Topic Overview

The following strategies may help decrease your child's discomfort related to immunizations.

Infant (newborn to 12 months)

Your baby is less likely to be uncomfortable or upset after an immunization if he or she is not hungry or tired.

  • See that your baby has a good nap 2 to 4 hours before the immunization is given.
  • Feed your baby 1 to 2 hours before the immunization is to be given.

During and after the immunization, you can help your baby by providing gentle comfort and reassurance.

  • Give your infant a pacifier dipped in sugar water.
  • Breast-feed.
  • Wrap your older baby snugly in a blanket, offer a pacifier, or hold and soothe him or her.
  • Distract your baby with toys or soothing conversation.

Toddlers (12 months to 3 years) and young children (3 to 9 years)

Tell toddlers and young children beforehand about the upcoming visit to the doctor. But wait to talk about getting immunizations until right before it happens. Tell your child that he or she will feel a little prick that may sting. Avoid words like "shot" or "hurt." These can have strong meanings to young children, which can raise their fear of immunizations. Never suggest that vaccines are being given as punishment for misbehavior.

You can help ease the tension your child feels while getting a shot (injection) by using distraction techniques. For example, blow bubbles, read books, or talk about fun activities to help relax your child.

During the shot, act calm and confident. Don't increase your child's anxiety by being critical, apologetic, or overly reassuring.

Place a bandage over the area where the shot was given. Some toddlers and young children are afraid of blood or worry that medicine will leak out of the injection site.

Older children and teens (10 through 18 years)

When your school-age child or teen needs immunizations, talk about his or her expectations so you can address any misconceptions.

To help reduce the discomfort of injections:

  • Ask your child what has helped in the past.
  • Teach your child to use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or thinking about pleasant things.
  • Help your child distract himself or herself. You could suggest bringing a book or computer game along and also talk about subjects of interest to your child.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Helping Children During Immunizations Topics

    Today on WebMD

    child with red rash on cheeks
    What’s that rash?
    plate of fruit and veggies
    How healthy is your child’s diet?
     
    smiling baby
    Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
    Middle school band practice
    Understanding your child’s changing body.
     

    worried kid
    fitArticle
    boy on father's shoulder
    Article
     
    Child with red rash on cheeks
    Slideshow
    girl thinking
    Article
     

    Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    babyapp
    New
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow
     
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
    Syringes and graph illustration
    Tool