There are plenty of wonderful things about being a mom, but taking your kid to get a needle is not one of them. Sure, it’s better than taking your child on an overseas flight or to get a cavity filled, but let’s be real…not by much. Even the most calm, agreeable children have been known to panic over the very prospect of a needle.
This applies to toddlers and children of all ages (and some adults, if we’re being honest). We get it — needles are no fun! Even when it’s a tiny poke that’s over in a second, it’s not something any child or parent looks forward to. That said, there are ways to make the experience less stressful for both of you. Here are our best tips for taking your kids to get their shots.
Keep Calm and Carry On
KIDS CAN SENSE FEAR. If you roll up to the clinic like a ball of nerves, they may feel and feed off your anxiety. Stay calm, even if you’re totally faking it. Remember — you set the stage for this event. If you act like it’s no big deal, they’ll follow suit.
Talk About It
If your child is old enough to understand, explain the process to them. Even a 2-year-old can benefit from a simple conversation about why they’re getting a needle and how it’s going to happen. Let them know that the nurse (or doctor) will be using a small needle to put medicine into their body and acknowledge that it will be uncomfortable for a few seconds. Keep it simple and honest — the goal is to make them feel prepared and not frightened.
Whether you’ve got an infant, a preschooler, or a school-aged child, there are options for pain relief after a shot is given. Children’s Advil is recommended by doctors and clinically proven to provide fast pain relief. This means you can give it after the needle, offering post-shot pain relief. It comes in suspension as well as chewable tablets (both in kid-friendly flavours like grape and berry). As a bonus, Children’s Advil is also an effective fever reducer and can help relieve this occasional side effect of standard childhood vaccinations.
Distract, Divert, Redirect
Even if your child seems amenable to the whole needle situation, it doesn’t hurt to distract them. Try asking them an age-appropriate question just before the needle makes contact with the skin. For example, point to the wall clock and ask what time it is, or inquire about what they want for dinner later. Got really young kids? There’s no shame in putting a video on your phone and letting The Wiggles do the distracting.
Yeah, we said it. Bribery isn’t always a good idea, but sometimes it is. Does little Billy love donuts or trading cards? Maybe he’ll get one if he cooperates and gets his needle without a fuss. Make that deal, mama…we won’t judge.
Whether it’s scheduled vaccinations, a prescribed medical treatment, or a blood test, your child is going to need a few needles. So remember: Talk to your kids, distract like a boss, bribe them if necessary, and then take care of the pain. It’s what moms do, and you’ve got all the tools you need.
You’ve got this, mama.
This post was written in partnership with Children’s Advil, but the opinions are our own.