Taking your child to get shots can be stressful for both parents and child, but the quick pain your child experiences during his or her shots is well worth the benefits. Still, every parent wants his or her child to experience the least amount of discomfort possible.
Thanks to several studies that looked at the best ways to relieve shot pain, there are a number of helpful tips, hints and strategies to ease your baby’s tears and fears.
Soothe your baby with the five “S’s”: After the vaccine is given, swaddle your baby in a blanket, place them on their side or stomach, gently shush them, and rock/swing them. If your baby is still upset, give them a pacifier to suck on for comfort. These tips have shown to produce less crying and pain for your baby, as they are distracted by the attention and comfort these five techniques bring.
A spoonful of sugar makes everything better: Giving your baby a small dose of a sugar solution (sugar water) before their shot has been shown to reduce their pain during the minutes following their vaccine. This little bit of sugar can reduce crying and behavior that suggests babies are in discomfort.
A mother’s milk can help: Babies who are breastfed only are less likely to run a fever after receiving their shots than those babies who are partially breastfed or only receive formula.
The little things count: When your baby is upset before, during or after their shots, try these simple tips:
- Talk to them in a calming voice or sing them a song.
- Cuddle them close if they want to be held.
- Bring along a favorite blanket or toy that comforts your baby.
- For toddlers, try telling a story, reciting the ABCs together or taking deep breaths to “blow away the pain.” Deep breaths for nervous parents are encouraged, too!
If your child is old enough to understand that they are getting a vaccine, don’t ignore their fears or tears. Acknowledge their dislike and discomfort and reassure them with honest answers to their questions, but there is no need to over-explain or dwell on the topic.
When in doubt, remember to smile, encourage your child and praise them for their bravery when it’s all over! The pain and stress that child and parent may have experienced is well worth the years of disease protection they've just received.