7 Ways to Soothe Kids Getting Vaccines
Distraction Helps; Excessive Reassurance Can Backfire
WebMD News Archive
May 9, 2007 -- Got a baby or young child who's scheduled for vaccinations? A
new study offers tips on preparing and soothing kids getting shots.
The tips come from experts including Neil Schechter, MD, of the University
of Connecticut's medical school.
Here is their advice on preparing children for immunization:
- Kids who are more than 2 years old should be prepared shortly before the
shot. Tell them what will happen, how it will feel, and why it's
- Babies up to 6 months old may be soothed by putting a little sugar water on
their pacifier right before the shot.
- Anesthetic creams may not be appropriate for all kids but should be
considered for children who are anxious or fearful about getting shots.
Schechter's team also has tips on what parents should do while the shot is
- Be in the room with the child.
- Distract the child based on the child's age and temperament. Distraction
techniques may include story telling, reading to the child, and deep
- Be matter-of-fact, supportive, and nonapologetic.
- Don't overdo reassurance. Excessive reassurance can actually upset
"Although it seems counterintuitive, excessive parental reassurance,
empathy, and apologies might increase distress, whereas humor and distraction
tend to decrease distress," write Schechter and colleagues.
Parents might also want to keep in mind that long needles may actually
deliver less pain.
"Although it would seem intuitive that the shortest needle with the
thinnest gauge would produce the least trauma and pain, this does not seem to
be the case," write Schechter and colleagues.
They note that "a number of studies support the contention that longer
needles, which are more likely to penetrate muscle than are shorter ones, cause
less pain and fewer adverse effects."
Their recommendations appear in the May issue of Pediatrics.
- How do you make shots
easier for your baby? Talk about it on WebMD's "Parenting:
1-Year-Olds" message board.