Vaccines are incredibly important to protect children (and adults) from dangerous diseases. However, getting vaccines isn’t high on anyone’s fun list, and if you have a baby or young child they are going to need numerous immunizations to keep them protected and healthy. At American Health Specialists in Flint, we want every appointment to be enjoyable. While we know that vaccinations can be temporarily painful, we hope that your child can be less scared and nervous the next time they need a shot. If you have tears on the way to your appointments, or a scared, tense, unhappy child, try some of the following tips to help soothe and distract them when it’s time for their vaccinations.
Give Them Some Information
If you have a baby, they are obviously not going to understand the importance of vaccines. But if you have an older child, giving them the information that helps them understand what vaccines are and why they are important, can help them be more willing to accept the temporary pain. No one likes to be uninformed, and children are no exception. Information on vaccines could be presented in a video form, even in cartoons, that could be more appealing to children than just reading facts. This video gives a great, approachable overview to what vaccines are and why they are important.
But Not TOO Much Information
While giving kids the general reasons they need vaccinations is a good idea, talking up the date of their shots might not be as wise. Kids might stress over an upcoming appointment, so tell them as close to appointment time as possible. If this means on the way to the office, or the day before, you know your child best, and know what will make them the most comfortable. Just avoid unnecessary stress by talking about their shots as impending doom that is lurking in the future.
If your child has a favorite toy, book or even a show to watch on a mobile device, anything that will distract them from the shot is great. Having a familiar stuffed animal to cuddle, or a movie to watch can lessen the pain that comes from hyperfocusing on the shots. Bring in fun items that can make the time more enjoyable and less dreaded.
If you can distract your little one with a lollipop to suck on while they are getting their immunizations, it may help them deal with the pain. There have been studies that have shown that babies given a sugar solution prior to getting their shots cried less after receiving them. Don’t let your kids have any small candies in their mouth while getting their shots to reduce the risk of choking.
Hide the Needle
Many kids get more scared when they see the needle, no matter how small it is, that administers the shot. Position your child so that they can see your face, their book or toy, or a screen, and not the needle. Many times if they can’t see the shot going in, they don’t even realize that the entire procedure has already happened.
Give a Hand
Kids like reassurance, and if you give them a hand to hold and squeeze, it can make the experience more tolerable. Letting them hold your hand shows them you are there for them, and you can let them squeeze your hand as hard as the shot hurts. So give them a hand and help them through the shots.
If you are stressed about the vaccinations, it is sure to transfer to your child. Stay positive and calm and your children will follow suit. Your child may try to negotiate with you to get out of the shots, but stay focused and determined that getting the vaccinations is what is best for your child. Staying calm will make the situation better for both you and your child.
Obviously, this is for younger children and babies who still turn to a pacifier for comfort. Studies have shown that babies using pacifiers before, during and after vaccinations experience less pain. Pacifiers give a child something to focus on besides the shot, so if your child likes using a pacifier, make sure you bring theirs with you to the appointment.
Give a Reward
If you know that you are going to reward your child after their shots, telling them early on can give them a goal to focus on. A sweet treat or small toy can make the idea of the shots more bearable, and help take the pain away.
Breathing and Coughing Techniques
Different practitioners have methods they swear by to lessen the pain of vaccinations. Some people say that coughing before and during vaccinations is a great way to reduce pain. Others say to imagine blowing out birthday candles during their shots to help with the pain. Twisting, putting hands on hips, and other positions may or may not help, but if your child thinks they will lessen the pain, the mental effect alone might be enough.
Get Them All Done
If your child experiences a lot of trauma during their vaccination appointments, it may be tempting to only get one shot at a time, even if several are recommended. Studies have shown that children experience the same amount of stress regardless of how many shots they receive. So save yourself the time and hassle of bringing your child back for multiple appointments and get the recommended number of shots. This will also ensure that you stay on schedule and don’t miss any important vaccinations.
Hopefully these tips can help you and your child at your next immunization appointment. Because vaccines are so important for a child’s health, and the health of the population at large, making them a little more enjoyable ensures they are not avoided or skipped. Try out these techniques during your next vaccination appointment at American Health Specialist in Flint and hopefully you’ll take some of the sting out of childhood immunizations.