Tips to Improve Your Child’s Immunization Experience
Updated March 6, 2017
Vaccines protect us from serious diseases. Many of the vaccines are given as needles. To reduce fear of needles, here are five tips to improve your child’s immunization experience.
Plan ahead – things to bring to your appointment
- Bring your child’s immunization card to the appointment.
- Prepare sugar water if you are not breastfeeding. Mix 1 teaspoon of sugar with 2 teaspoon of water (for babies only).
There are topical numbing creams or patches you can buy without a prescription. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist on how much medication to apply and where to apply it. Read the instructions before applying the cream or patch. It may take 30 to 60 minutes for the medication to take effect, depending on the product.
Do not use acetaminophen or ibuprofen before your child receives the vaccine(s).
- Take deep breaths to stay calm.
- Use your normal speaking voice.
- Babies and children feel what their parents feel.
Cuddle your baby on your lap.
Remove your baby’s clothing to expose the arms or legs for the needle.
Distract your baby with singing, breastfeeding or toy rattles.
Breastfeeding provides comfort to you and your baby.
- For non-breastfed babies, give a few drops of sugar water before and after the needle. Do not use sugar water at home to calm upset or crying babies, as this can lead to tooth decay.
- Prepare your child ahead of time. Explain the visit to the doctor that they may feel a “pinch or sting.”
- Work on a solution together: choose a favourite blanket, stuffed animal, a book or toy that will bring comfort.
- Hold or cuddle your child on your lap in a comforting hug.
- Blow bubbles or take deep breaths together so the belly expands.
- Use distractions: sing, read a book, or use a hand held device.
- Offer praise.
- Talk to your child about the visit to the doctor that they may feel a “pinch or sting.”
- Work on a solution together: choose a personal item that will provide comfort or distraction.
- Have your child in a sitting position.
- Take deep breaths together or use your child’s chosen item as a distraction.
- Offer praise.
After the vaccination, stay at the clinic for 15 minutes. If an allergic reaction occurs, it will be treated immediately.
For minor reactions such as fever, irritability or a sore arm, use acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g. Advil) as directed by your doctor. If you notice any changes in your child’s health, such as unusual fussing, crying or low energy, call your doctor. Contact Toronto Public Health to report any severe reactions at 416-392-1250.