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.

Be Positive

  • Take deep breaths to stay calm.
  • Use your normal speaking voice.
  • Babies and children feel what their parents feel.

Plan Ahead

  • Bring your child’s immunization card to the appointment.
  • For non breastfeeding babies, prepare sugar water. Mix one teaspoon of sugar with two teaspoon of water (for babies only).

  • Cuddle your baby on your lap.
  • Remove baby’s clothing to expose the arms or legs for the needle.
  • Distract your baby with singing, breastfeeding or toy rattles.
  • Breastfeeding before, during and after the needle provides comfort to mom and 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.
  • After breastfeeding or sugar water, wipe baby’s mouth with a damp facecloth.

Making Vaccines Easier For Your Baby (infographic)

  • Talk to your child about the health visit.
  • Your child may feel a “poke or pinch” for a few seconds.
  • Work on a plan together.
  • Have your child choose a favourite blanket, stuffed animal, a book or toy that will distract or bring comfort.
  • Hold 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. Positive reinforcement works for kids of all ages.

Making Vaccines Easier For Your Child (infographic)

  • Talk to your child about the health visit.
  • Your child may feel a “poke or pinch.”
  • Have your child decide on an item to distract them from the needle.
  • Sit up during the needle.
  • Take deep breaths together and try to stay calm.
  • It’s okay to look if they want to.
  • Use the item they brought, a mobile device or music as distraction.
  • Offer praise. Positive reinforcement works for kids of all ages.

Making Vaccines Easier For Your Teen (infographic)

Numbing Creams

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).

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.