Make Your Child's Shots Less Stressful

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Story Updated: Dec 6, 2012

(NewsUSA) - Vaccines help protect babies and young children against 14 serious diseases. Even though you are keeping her safe from diseases, it's hard to see your child cry when she gets her shots. But you can take some steps before, during and after a vaccine visit to ease the pain and stress of getting shots.

Read about the shots your child will get in advance. Bring your child's vaccine record to show the doctor. Pack a favorite toy, book, blanket or other comfort item. For older children, be honest -- shots can pinch or sting, but not for long. Remind them that shots help keep them healthy.

Ask your child's doctor any questions you have about vaccines. You may even want to ask about cooling or numbing the area of your child's arm or leg before the shots.

Distract your child with a toy, a story, a song or something interesting in the room. Make eye contact with your child and smile, talk softly or sing. Hold your child tightly on your lap if you can. Take deep breaths with an older child to help "blow out" the pain.

After the shot, hug, cuddle and praise your child. For babies, swaddling, breastfeeding or a bottle may offer quick relief. Comfort and reassure older children if they cry.

"Read the Vaccine Information Sheets from your doctor so you know what to expect after the shots," said Dr. Melinda Wharton, Deputy Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Some children have pain or swelling where a shot was given, a rash or a fever. These reactions are usually mild and resolve on their own without needing treatment."

If you notice redness, soreness or swelling from the shot, place a clean, cool washcloth on the area. If your child runs a fever, try a cool sponge bath. You can also use a non-aspirin pain reliever if your doctor says it's OK. Some children eat less, sleep more or act fussy for a day after they get shots. Make sure your child gets plenty to drink. If you're worried about anything, call your doctor.

"Shots can be stressful," said Dr. Wharton. "But you can ease your child's discomfort. And keeping your child up to date on vaccines is the best way to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases."

Learn more about childhood vaccines at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents or call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).

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