Child Health: How to help your baby through shots and blood tests
Child Health – No parents want to see their child suffer. But, we all know that once a baby is born, there will be a large number of unpleasant but mandatory shots and tests that they will need to undergo in the first few years of life. These shots are routine, legally mandated vaccines to not only protect your child from diseases, but to also protect the people with whom they might come into contact.
In the first year of life, babies are vaccinated against polio, TB, and other infectious diseases. They also receive booster shots for tetanus and receive various other vitamin boosters. These shots go on intermittently until the age of 12.
As any parent will tell you, watching your baby scream blue-murder during these injections isn’t pleasant. Some parents even start crying in sympathy with their little bundle of joy. But how can one effectively make these inevitable appointments bearable for the baby, which in turn makes it easy for mom and dad?
Child Health: Older kids
Before we chat about babies, it is important to note that older kids (from about three and up) are able to understand certain bits of information about the shots and tests; this means that you can speak to them and calm their fears verbally.
Be honest with them. Don’t say that the shots won’t hurt; perhaps try the approach that it will only be a prick and that the pain will be short-lived. If you lie to them before the shot, they may be hesitant to believe you in future.
Also, they may find comfort in being able to tell you about their fears regarding any procedures of shots. Allow them to be open with you; ask them what specifically is scaring them and talk them through the procedure.
Ask them if they prefer to watch the nurse give them the shot or if they would like to look away. Also let them decide if they need comfort or want to brave it alone (some kids thrive when given independence). Allow the older kid some control over the situation.
To begin, we thought it smart to debunk a myth that parents have believed for generations: giving paracetamol before an injection does not lessen the pain of the actual injection. In fact, nowadays some nurses advise against the pre-dose, in case it affects the effectiveness of certain vaccinations.
Research conducted by Roman Prymula and colleagues from the University of Defence in the Czech Republic and other European institutions in 2009 was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet, indicating that routinely giving a baby paracetamol in the 24 hours following their childhood immunisations, although clearly successful in reducing the risk of a fever developing, reduces the immune response to the vaccine. This suggests that the vaccination will be less effective.
However, giving a child a dose of paracetamol after the vaccine is perfectly fine and effective in managing any post-jab symptoms like pain and fever and general restlessness.
Perhaps try to keep your baby comfortable while he is being injected. At the very least, cuddling your baby or allowing him to nurse while the procedure happens will help to keep him still and also assist in distracting him. By the time your baby notices the sting of the injection, it will be over!
Then, you can wrap him up in a comfortable blanket and reassure him.
Kid Spot advises that you breastfeed your baby before, during and after. Breastfeeding calms and comforts both baby and mother and is believed to help lessen your baby’s pain.
If your baby isn’t breastfed perhaps choose this time to give him his bottle or binky for comfort.
Talk to your doctor about using sugar water as a means to calm down a restless baby. Studies have shown that dipping a pacifier in sugar water or putting some into the baby’s mouth with a syringe can make a procedure less painful. The theory is that it possibly activates the body’s natural systems for fighting pain.
Sugar water has long been an at-home remedy for people who are in shock.
It comes from the need to replenish sugar and salt that may have been lost from sweating or vomiting. Electrolytes stop the affected person from going into shock or fainting and seizing.
Child Health: The Medical Society
Getting the proper shots and procedures for your child can be a daunting task, but it is very important. As unpleasant as watching children suffer through injections and blood tests can be, know that you are doing what is best for them – and that is what parenting is all about. As a member of the Medical Society, you need not worry about access to safe and hygienic vaccinations.
The Medical Society offers assistance in many facets of a child’s health and development such as child nutrition and growth monitoring; which is the constant checking of the weight and height of your child by age range. This includes comparisons with developmental milestones against age.
We are on hand for advice on child nutrition, including breastfeeding; services that are available at all Medical Society facilities.