Helping Your Kids with Shots and Procedures

Summer is approaching, and if you’re like many parents, that means upcoming physicals and possibly vaccines or blood draws for your kiddos are around the corner. This topic always seems to make parents cringe. Of course, we know the importance of vaccinations, but it doesn’t necessarily make it easier to watch your kid squirm, scream, and cry when the nurse comes in with the tray carrying the dreaded needles.


Thankfully, research doesn’t stop at demanding kids get vaccines; Drs. Christine Chambers and Anna Taddio are well-known Canadian pediatric psychologist who study pain and have worked to get the public message out that pain management in kids is important and relatively accessible, especially in the case of vaccines! The campaign, “It Doesn’t Have to Hurt” is an excellent resource for parents and can help you with your own children’s vaccines! Do you know currently, fewer than 5% of kids receive any pain management during vaccines? Parents can help change that number!


What Should You Do to Help Your Child?


For Babies:

  • It’s never too early- from your child’s first prick or poke, pain management helps set the stage for less fear later on. (Did you know that boys who have circumcisions without pain management have more pain at subsequent vaccines?)
  • Breastfeeding before, during, and after vaccines serves as a natural pain aid.
  • Sweet tasting solutions (sugar water) during vaccines help infants who aren’t breastfeeding or aren’t with breastfeeding mom at time of the shot
  • Holding baby upright, close to parent.
  • Be the advocate for your child- tell your doctor or nurse about this research and why you’re nursing during the vaccines!

For Kids:

  • Be honest with your kids; don’t use vaccines as a threat or punishment
  • If your kids are old enough, tell them that vaccines are medicine to keep them healthy!
  • Don’t say “it won’t hurt” or “don’t worry!”
  • Let kids sit upright, a supine or laying position may make it worse.
  • Ask about topical anesthetics or pain blocker such as Buzzy the Bee!
  • Rub the area of skin before vaccine is given.
  • Slow deep breathing helps reduce pain; try using a pinwheel or bubbles for younger kids to help guide the breathing!
  • Distraction works! Use an ipad, TV show, game, phone, to help kids put their minds on something other than the procedure.

Shots can be a pain, but they don’t have to be! Try some of these tips at your child’s next physical or vaccine appointment!


Interested in more information?

It Doesn’t Have to Hurt You Tube Video

It Doesn’t Have to Hurt Campaign

Meghan Tuohy Walls, Nemours Psychologist