It’s widely understood that vaccines are a safe and effective part of childhood medicine, and that these shots will protect your child from a wide range of potentially fatal and contagious diseases. Unfortunately, the process of getting the vaccines can be uncomfortable and upsetting for some children. If you’re nervous about the prospect of taking your child for their injections and need some help calming both yourself and your child down, try these tips.
- Prepare with distractions. If your child is hyper-focused on the process of receiving their vaccination, the whole experience will be far more upsetting. As soon as you see the nurse or doctor heading over to the vaccine fridges, take out your child’s favourite toy and get them interested in some playtime. With older children, bringing a tablet or smartphone along for them to play a game or watch a video can be a helpful distraction.
- Stay relaxed. Children, even babies, pick up on their parents’ emotional cues. If you’re stressed out and nervous about the vaccinations yourself, try to stay calm so they don’t sense your anxiety. Breathe deeply, keep smiling at them, and treat the day like any other to avoid panic.
- Be consistent with doctors. Once a child has had a few appointments with the same doctor, they’ll begin to recognise their face and the whole situation won’t feel as intimidating. Unless you have a legitimate problem with your doctor and need to make a change, try to stick with the same doctor for your children’s healthcare needs so that they can get used to seeing the same friendly face at each appointment. They’ll hopefully grow to trust and love the doctor over time.
- Use breastfeeding as a comfort tool. If your baby is still breastfeeding, vaccination time is the perfect moment to allow your infant some comfort nursing. Begin feeding just before it’s time for the injection and allow them to get latched and comfortable before the needle goes in. They should be distracted and soothed by the feeding, and barely notice the shot itself.
- Prepare with painkillers. If your doctor gives you the go-ahead, some parents find it useful to use a kiddie paracetamol syrup about half an hour before the vaccination appointment to help pre-empt some of the discomfort. This can also help you deal with any post-vaccine fever or illness.
- Know what to expect. When it comes to your own sanity and state of mind during your child’s vaccinations, make sure you ask plenty of questions and feel fully informed. Ask the doctor what side effects may occur in the days after the shot, what reactions are normal and what’s not so normal. Be prepared to deal with any common symptoms that could occur after the injection, and be aware of any signs of an allergy that should be treated straight away.
- Consider a skin numbing cream. If your baby or toddler has reacted badly to the pain of injections in the past and you’re dreading repeating it again, it’s better to come up with a solution than to skip them altogether. There are topical creams you can use to numb the area before an injection, so your child won’t feel a thing when the needle goes in.