If you’re taking your child in for their flu shot or vaccinations, you’ll want to be prepared. Comforting your child before, during, and after a shot can help reduce the risk of developing a fear of needles.
Our pediatricians have pulled together some suggestions for minimizing overreactions to shots by age. (Jump to infographic.)
To help children a year of age or younger through a shot, Swapna Kudtarkar, MD, a pediatrician with Dignity Health Medical Group – Inland Empire, recommends the following:
- Hold your baby in your lap and feed them, or give them a pacifier during shot.
- Swaddle the baby immediately after the shot, and rock them close to your body.
- Apply gentle pressure and massage around the injection site, to reduce post-vaccine tenderness.
Sarah Favila, MD, a pediatrician with Dignity Health Medical Foundation – Woodland and Davis, has a different set of suggestions for parents with children between one and three years old.
- Bring along a special toy to give your child just before the shot. This helps distract them from the prick.
- Invite your child to sing their favorite song with you, just before and during the shot.
- Stay calm! Your child will pick up on your mood, if you seem nervous or worried.
For children between four and six years old, Katie Meyer, DO, a pediatrician with Dignity Health Medical Group – Merced, recommends:
- If your child asks about their shots, be honest but comforting. Let your child know that vaccines help protect them and keep them nice and healthy.
- Studies have shown that having a child cough or pretend to blow out a birthday candles while they receive a shot can minimize overreactions.
- Offer your child a small reward for getting their vaccine. This gives them something to look forward to and takes focus off of the shot.
Find a pediatrician who specializes in humankindness near you by visiting DHMF.org.