Helping Children During Immunizations - Topic Overview
The following strategies may help decrease your child's
discomfort related to
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.
- Wrap your
older baby snugly in a blanket, offer a pacifier, or hold and soothe him or
- 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
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
During the shot, act calm and confident. Don't increase
your child's anxiety by being critical, apologetic, or overly
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)
your school-age child or teen needs immunizations, talk about his or her
expectations so you can address any misconceptions.
reduce the discomfort of injections:
- Ask your child what has helped in the
- 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.