Getting shots can be just as tough on you as it is for your child, but the benefits are worth the effort. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make the experience less painful and stressful.
“We understand it’s difficult for kids and parents so we do our best to limit the pain and crying during the shot,” said Dr. Jennifer Burkam, of Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics Green. “We position the child so the shot can be given quickly and efficiently, and administer it in the thigh where we think it’ll be least painful. We also encourage parental involvement so the child feels safe and comforted during the shot.”
If your little one is under 5 months old, try a popular method called the “5 S’s” immediately after she gets a vaccine: swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing sounds, swinging and sucking.
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’re comfortable with breastfeeding your daughter at the doctor’s office (to fulfill the sucking recommendation), this alone can be an effective method of calming her down.
For older babies, swaddling or shushing might not work. Try distracting your baby with a toy, book or song, and try not to look upset or concerned. Children can pick up on a parent’s anxiety and it can make them anxious as well.
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.
“Physical touch, soothing sounds and distraction with a favorite comfort item are suggestions we offer parents to comfort their child after a shot,” said Dr. Burkam. “For older kids, we give reassuring words to help, like ‘You did great!’ or ‘Give me a high five!'”
Following a shot, you may give your child ibuprofen to relieve the pain (as long as she is 6 months of age or older).
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.