There are few things that a parent dreads worse than having to force their child to do something painful that is actually good for them.
Once you have done the research and made the decision to immunize your child you are then left with the impending dread of taking them for said shots or the sometimes guilt that comes with the screaming baby that you have just subjected to pain, though for their ultimate benefit.
All too often this can lead to not only baby being in tears, but mama as well being misty eyed for empathizing with her baby’s distress. There are a few things that can help make this scenario a little bit more manageable and ease the discomfort for all involved.
First, locate a pediatrician or clinic who will allow you to nurse your baby during vaccinations. If you are a nursing mama, this can be a tremendous help as baby feels safe in your arms, calmed by the action of nursing, and comforted immediately after the shot. With this technique babies often cry less and calm much faster.
It is difficult to find a clinic or pediatrician who will allow for this as many will tell you that they just cannot allow you to hold your child while they are sticking them with a needle, but when you find that gem of a physician or nurse, latch on, it makes a world of difference.
For bottle feeding mamas it is still very comforting to be holding your child in your lap and feeding them during the immunizations, they still feel very close and safe and are doing an activity that they enjoy; this too helps with the immediate pain as well as the calming effects afterwards.
Secondly, if feeding your toddler or baby during the immunization is not an option, at least be the one to hold the child securely while the shots are being administered. Children feel so much more at ease with a parent in their immediate vicinity than they do with a nurse or clinic physician being the one to not only hover over them but also to prick them with a needle.
Also it is not recommended to allow your child to be taken away from you to another room for the shots and then returned to you; this does little more than cause extreme stress to the child (and sometimes mom) and does not in any way benefit the procedure.
Thirdly, if your doctor’s office or clinic does not already provide a small treat after getting immunized, plan for one of your own. Bring a favorite character band-aid or possibly your child’s favorite snack, a small sticker or other treat that will help distract them immediately afterwards.
If they are old enough candy lollipops work wonders! This can be something that the older toddler is notified of before the shots as well. Letting your child know that there is a reward following something not so pleasant can be of great help to calm an anxious child.
Fourthly, try means of distraction. If your child is very apprehensive about being at the clinic or office for the shots (maybe an older child or toddler) try activities that may help calm them such as reading their favorite story, playing with them with their favorite toy or singing a song to them. You can color a picture to give to someone (maybe even the doctor).
Just hearing mom or dad’s voice while singing or reading can go far in calming an anxious child, humming their favorite tune or softly singing to them during the immunizations can be very soothing. Just the act of distracting them from what the purpose of the visit is can be beneficial.
Though all of these methods are meant to ease the discomfort and apprehension of getting shots, sometimes with an older child, preparation of visit by explaining the process and why shots are necessary can be of value as well.
No one likes to not know what is going to happen so even some role playing at home can be beneficial when it comes time to prepare for the visit. You are your child’s best advocate and you know what will comfort them the best, don’t hesitate to ask for special treatment if there is something small that will ease their discomfort and anxiety.