6 Tips To Help Kids Who Fear the Doctor's Needle

Kids admit they fear them, adults pretend they don’t, but no one genuinely likes getting shots at the doctor’s office. Getting vaccinated against any kind of illness can be painful and a bit frightening, particularly if you need more than one injection at a time.

Updating shots is one of the most common reasons children come to the doctor’s office. If you’re a parent, you probably know the struggle of trying to console (or contain) a little one who’s afraid of needles. Though it’s hard to see your child so upset, you know that vaccinations are absolutely vital for her long-term health.

Help your child feel a little better about getting those shots. Here are six strategies any parent can use to make the whole incident quicker and as pain-free as possible.

1. Stay on Schedule

During their first year of life, babies need what can seem like dozens of shots and vaccinations. It can be easy to fall behind on schedule, but pediatricians urge parents to keep up with regular appointments between annual wellness checks. The older your child gets, the more likely it is that she’ll remember the pain of the last appointment. She’ll also get bigger and be more difficult to handle should she get upset. It’s best to get vaccines as early as possible, both to ensure they are effective and to minimize your little one’s discomfort.

2. Choose Your Words Wisely

Before and during your visit to a children’s pediatric, keep your tone light and your mood positive. Even very young children can easily notice when parents are worried. If you have a toddler or preschooler, don’t use words like “don’t worry” or “it’ll be okay” before the shot occurs — your child might wonder why they should be worried in the first place and get prematurely upset. Instead, talk about other topics, smile, and act as though nothing frightening might happen. If you don’t make the shot a big deal, chances are, your little one won’t either.

3. Sweeten the Deal

Promise young children a treat after the shots. Often, a lollipop, sticker, or small toy helps push the unpleasantness from your child’s mind after the shot and gives them something to look forward to before it’s done. Your pediatric care clinic likely has a basket of goodies just for these occasions. You could even tell your little one that she can pick out a new toy at the store, or suggest ice cream with lunch when you leave the pediatric care clinic. Turning the negative experience into a positive one will help your child cooperate the next time she needs to see the doctor.

4. Use A Distraction

For some kids, as soon as the needle is in sight, it’s game over. The fear of the injection makes them panicky, tearful, and prone to wiggling out of your grasp. Using distraction tactics before and during the shot can help your little one forget the fear and notice less pain. Distract babies and toddlers with a small toy, or ask older kids to sing a song with you. Some children’s pediatric doctors even instruct kids to blow on a pinwheel while they insert the needle. In many cases, a simple but clever distraction does the trick.

5. Let the Nurse or Doctor Handle It

Despite your best efforts, your child might have a fear-induced meltdown anyway. If this happens, consider letting the medical professionals handle the situation. It can be hard to let go of your baby when she’s upset, but chances are the doctor and nurse has already worked with an upset child or two that day. Stay in sight of your little one so she knows you’re still there, but stay back so that the medical team can administer the shot as quickly and painlessly as possible.

6. Try Moderate Pain Prevention

Finally, consider using medicine to help numb pain after the shot. Some shots leave kids feeling a little sore for a day or two, so ask the doctor if it’s okay to use ibuprofen or Tylenol to manage the pain the next day.

Shots are an uncomfortable but vital part of pediatric care. If your child needs to get a vaccination, use these tips recommended by the best pediatricians to make getting vaccines at the doctor’s a little less scary. With a few small bribes and clever distractions, your child might even look forward to visiting the doctor’s office! Book your appointment today with Pediatric Associates of Dallas at either the Dallas or Plano Location.