How Can I Comfort My Baby During Shots?

How Can I Comfort My Baby During Shots?

Lea este articulo en EspanolMy baby cries uncontrollably when she gets a shot. Is there anything I can do to make the experience less traumatic for her?
- Kate

Getting shots can be tough on you and your child, but the benefits are worth the effort. Fortunately, you can do a few things to make the experience less painful and stressful.

If your daughter is a newborn or under 5 months old, try a method called the "5 S's" immediately after she gets a vaccine. These are:

  1. swaddling immediately after the shot. You also can swaddle (wrapping a baby tightly in a blanket like a "burrito") before the shot, but leave your baby's legs exposed for the vaccination.
  2. placing her on her side or stomach
  3. making shushing sounds in her ear
  4. swinging her in your arms or an infant swing
  5. giving her the opportunity to suck (whether through breastfeeding, a bottle, or a pacifier)

Research has shown that doing at least 4 of the 5 S's greatly reduces the amount of time infants cry after getting a shot. If you are OK with breastfeeding your daughter at the doctor's office (to fulfill the sucking recommendation), this alone can be an effective method of distracting your baby and calming her down. You might even be able to do it while your child gets the vaccine.

In some situations, a sugar water solution may be available. Dipping a pacifier into this solution, then giving it to a fussy baby may help soothe the child.

Before and after the shot is given, try applying gentle pressure and rubbing the skin around the injection site. This massage may prevent the area from feeling so painful.

For an older baby or a toddler, swaddling or shushing might not work. Try letting your child sit on your lap during the shot and distract her with a toy, book, or song. Try not to look upset or concerned. Children can pick up on a parent's anxiety, and it can make them anxious as well.

Following a shot, you may give your child ibuprofen to relieve the pain (as long as she is 6 months of age or older). Acetaminophen is rarely used these days because it can make immunizations less effective if given immediately before or after an injection.

Also, don't forget to praise your child afterward. A little positive reinforcement can make the next trip to the doctor easier. When possible, try to do something fun after the appointment. A trip to the park or playground can make the overall immunization experience less stressful.

Reviewed by: Rupal Christine Gupta, MD
Date reviewed: April 2015





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2015 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com





Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
Web SiteCDC: Vaccines & Immunizations The CDC's site has information on vaccines, including immunization schedules, recommendations, FAQs, and more.
OrganizationImmunization Action Coalition This organization is a source of childhood, adolescent, and adult immunization information as well as hepatitis B educational materials.
Web SiteThe History of Vaccines The History of Vaccines is an informational, educational website created by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest professional society in the United States.
Related Articles
What Can I Do to Ease My Child's Fear of Shots? Find out what the experts have to say.
How Do I Know Which Vaccines My Kids Need? Find out what the experts have to say.
Your Child's Immunizations Immunizations protect your child from potentially fatal diseases. Find out what vaccines your child needs to grow up healthy.
How Many Doses of Flu Vaccine Does My Child Need? Knowing the doctor-recommended flu vaccination schedule can be confusing. Use this tool to help you understand how many doses your child needs.
Immunization Schedule Which vaccines does your child need to receive and when? Use this immunization schedule as a handy reference.
Helping Kids Deal With Injections and Blood Tests Blood tests and insulin injections can be a challenge for kids with diabetes and their parents. Here are some strategies for coping with these necessary procedures.
iGrow iGrow
Sign up for our parent enewsletter