Preparing Your Child for His First Vaccine

Aug 5 • 2016

Getting vaccinations can be an intimidating life event for kids, especially if they have a fear of needles. Knowing how to reduce the stress your child feels before his trip to the doctor can help make the entire experience easier on everyone involved. Because the majority of the immunizations you get happen as a child, helping relieve those fears is an important step.

Before heading to the doctor, it’s important that you are as informed as possible about the shots your child is receiving. By knowing the facts, you can more easily explain to him why the shot is important. Share with him that it will prevent him from getting sick, and be honest about the pain – let him know it will sting, but the pain won’t last long. Reiterate that it’s not a punishment, but instead will be keeping his body safe.

Once you arrive at the doctor’s office, his may begin to get more nervous. A good way to combat this is to bring along his favorite toy, blanket, book, or anything else that makes him feel more comfortable. Hold his hand, sing him a song he loves, and provide as much comfort and support as you can. You might even be able to ask the nurse for some numbing cream that can be applied to the area in order to reduce the amount of pain he feels from the shot. If your child is still not calming down, step back and allow the medical staff to do their jobs.

Providing distractions can be a great way to minimize the stress your child feels about the vaccination. Read him a story, play a game of I Spy in the exam room, or simply ask him to tell you about his day. By focusing on something other than the shot, the anticipation is reduced. Remind him to take deep breaths. If he does begin to cry, allow him to do so without giving it a negative connotation.

After the process is over, praise him for his bravery. Ask your doctor for an appropriate pain reliever and apply a cool compress if you notice redness or swelling. Make sure you’ve educated yourself on any potential side effects and don’t hesitate to call your doctor if you have questions after the appointment has ended.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month – have any of your children struggled with vaccinations in the past? Share your tips for reducing pre-immunization stress with other parents in the comments.