Taking your children for immunizations comes with a share of dread — especially when your child doesn't know it's going to happen. Oh, the guilt! Here are a few ways to help your child manage the shot routine; it all starts with you.
What You Can Do to Help Your Child
• Provide Distraction: Don't talk about the shot too much before heading to the doctor's or warn your child with worry on your face. If your child asks you before going to the doctor if he will have to get a shot, be honest: "If the doctor thinks you need a shot to keep a sickness away, then we will find out." Remain as casual as possibl and use distraction as much as possible, especially if you know your child will get upset about it. Be casual in the doctor's office, too, and have a cute little toy, a funny joke, or even bubbles at the ready.
• Cough, Cough: There's truth in the idea that if a kid coughs just as the injection is being given he won't notice the sting as much. Teach him to cough, "when I say."
• Sweet Stuff: A study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood showed that babies 1 to 12 months old who were given a small amount of sugar before immunization fared better during their shot. Who doesn't want something sweet to focus on instead of something scary?
• Numb the Skin: EMLA cream, a topical anesthetic, may reduce shot pain for children, at least on the surface of the skin when the needle tip goes in. Request it from your doctor's office before your visit so you can apply it beforehand. Most pharmacies carry it.
• If Your Child Melts Down About Having to Get a Shot: Step away and let the nurse or doctor handle it, if you are comfortable doing so, says Dr. Ari Brown author of the Baby 411 series.
• After the shots, give a small reward. Who doesn't deserve a little treat after a scary pinch like that?