Tips for preparing kids for shots
Getting your child – or yourself – comfortable with a round of shots might be another story, however. But Dr. White confirms the benefits of the immunization far outweigh the short-term stress and anxiety.
Tips to ease children’s fears and minimize discomfort:
- For infants, follow the “5 S’s.” For children less than 5 months old, immediately after the shot this involves swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing sounds, swinging and sucking a toy, pacifier, or if comfortable, breastfeeding.
- Be touchy-feely. Before (and after) the shot is given, apply gentle pressure and rub the skin around the injection site. This simple massage may prevent some of the pain. A comforting hug or a snuggle with a favorite blanket or stuffed animal afterward can also be soothing.
- Don’t show your cards. For older babies and even older children, try not to look upset or concerned. They can pick up on your anxiety and it can have a ripple effect on them, too. Let the doctor or nurse know ahead of time when your child is particularly nervous. Medical professionals routinely deal with children who have a fear of shots, and there may be able to help both you and your child relax.
- Be upfront and prepared. For older children, set clear expectations about vaccinations and let them know in advance what they are getting and why it is important. This may make the overall vaccination experience less stressful for everyone.
- Give praise and reinforcement. Remember to reassure kids with positive comments before and afterward. A little positive reinforcement can make the next trip to the doctor easier. Consider doing something extra special afterward, like a trip to the park or a playground.
The amazing impact of immunizations
The shot part is a mere short-term price to pay for protection against serious health issues. Dr. White says the impact of immunizations have clearly been noticeable throughout his career.
“In my 30-plus years of practicing medicine, we have gone from having our hospital wards filled with children suffering from the damaging effects of bacterial meningitis to one where our residents can spend their 3 years with us and see few or no cases, thanks to immunizations. That’s amazing!”