How you can help your baby through shots and blood tests – Harvard Health Blog

As much as we try to prevent our babies from suffering pain, sometimes it is inevitable – and sometimes, as is the case with vaccinations and blood tests, pain is part of something that is ultimately important to baby’s health and well-being.

Fortunately, shots and blood tests are both fast. But there are things you can do to help your baby feel less pain, feel less afraid, and get through the procedure more easily.

Help your baby through the pain of shots and blood tests

Here are some suggestions that may help:

  • Hold your baby. Being close and feeling your skin against theirs can be very reassuring.
  • Swaddle your baby. When babies are tightly packed, it helps them to control their body and their emotions. Of course, at least one leg or arm is involved in shots and blood tests, so you cannot swaddle them completely, but you can swaddle what is not in use.
  • Breastfeed if possible. It is not always possible for the nurse or the person who draws blood to do their work while the mother is breastfeeding, as it may be difficult to keep the child still, and sometimes people worry that the baby will choke on milk when he or she cries. But if it is possible, it can be useful.
  • Use a pacifier. Sucking often soothes babies.
  • Talk to your baby. Hearing your voice is both calming and disturbing for babies.
  • Talk to your doctor about using sugar water. Studies have shown that immersing a pacifier in sugar water or putting the baby in the mouth with a syringe can make a procedure less painful. It is not entirely clear how it works; it can activate the body’s natural systems to combat pain.

Once the injection or blood test is complete, pick up your baby and hold him or her close to you. That way, the baby knows it’s all over – and you’re there to take care of them.

Babies usually do well when the worst is over. But sometimes babies can hurt what the needle went in, and it’s not uncommon for babies to feel uncomfortable or a little sick a day or so after a vaccination. All the above suggestions can help with long-term discomfort. Usually medication is not necessary, and after vaccinations, the use of drugs such as acetaminophen can sometimes reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine itself.

Your doctor can help you decide what makes sense for your baby and your situation.

Follow me on Twitter @DrClaire

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