Most vaccines are administered with a needle, which may frighten both children and their parents. This fear can lead to some parents delaying their children’s vaccination, leaving them unprotected against many serious diseases.
The attitude and behaviour of parents towards vaccination is important to a child. In fact, children observe their parents to know how to act and feel.
There are proven methods for reducing the pain and anxiety in children who need to get vaccinated. The following tips and advice will allow you to make the vaccination experience more positive for your child. You can use more than one method to obtain the best results.
Children old enough to understand can be prepared for vaccination. Here are some tips on how to prepare your child a few hours before the vaccination appointment:
Behave in the following ways to help your child feel safe and reassured regarding vaccination:
If you are breastfeeding your baby, you can do so during the vaccination to calm and reassure him or her. Research shows that babies do not associate the pain of vaccination with being breastfed.
It is recommended that you hold your baby in a cradle position when breastfeeding him or her during vaccination. In this position, your baby’s head rests on your forearm or in the hollow of your elbow, on the side of the feeding breast. Use your other arm to support your baby’s buttocks and to keep his or her feet out of the way. Make sure that the arm or leg where the vaccine will be administered is clear.
If your baby is less than 2 years old, you can give him or her a sugar solution before the injection. This is a proven method for relieving pain in children of this age.
Do not use sugar water to soothe your baby when he or she is crying or upset. The sugar solution must be used only as a way of relieving pain during vaccination.
Prepare the sugar solution with the following ingredients:
Do not substitute the sugar with honey Honey can cause serious food poisoning in babies younger than a year old. You should therefore avoid giving them both pasteurized and non-pasteurized honey.
1 to 2 minutes before the injection, give your baby small sips of the sugar solution from a cup, spoon or syringe. You can also dip a pacifier in the sugar solution.
If you plan on breastfeeding your child during the vaccination, do not give him or her a sugar solution before the injection.
You can reassure your child by holding him or her in your arms during the vaccination. Holding your child properly will also ensure that he or she is vaccinated safely. Do the following:
Here are examples of how to hold your child depending on where the vaccine will be administered.
Distracting your child while he or she is being vaccinated can help reduce pain and anxiety. The part of the brain associated with pain is less active when children are distracted.
Some medicines can relieve the effects of vaccination in children. If necessary, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or the person who administered the vaccine.
You can use a topical anesthetic to reduce pain caused by the needle. Topical anesthetics numb the skin. However, they do not relieve discomfort or the burning or cold sensation caused by the injection of liquid into the skin.
Various topical anesthetics are available over the counter:
Before using a topical anesthetic, read the instructions on the package carefully. Respect all precautions and avoid any contact with the eyes or mouth.
Apply the topical anesthetic 30 to 60 minutes before the vaccination. You can apply it at home or when you arrive for the appointment.
Apply the topical anesthetic on the skin of the area to be vaccinated.
Children are vaccinated on their upper outer thigh or their upper outer arm.
When a child is getting more than one vaccine in a single appointment, apply the topical anesthetic in both places.
Reactions may occur in areas where the topical anesthetic is applied. For instance, skin may become pale, red or swollen. Your child may also feel itchy. These reactions will disappear by themselves in the hours after the vaccination.
Analgesics help bring down fever and relieve pain. They can be used after vaccination. However, analgesics do not have proven effectiveness for relieving pain due to an injection. It is therefore not recommended that you use them before vaccination.
Different analgesics are available over the counter in syrup or tablet form:
Before using an analgesic, read the instructions on the package carefully.
Additional information on managing the pain and anxiety of vaccination in children is available on the following websites:
Here are a few videos and books about vaccination that you can view or read with your child:
Last update: April 20, 2017 11:28 AM
The information on this website by no means replaces the advice of a health professional. If you have questions regarding your health, contact Info-Santé 811 or see a health professional.