Doctor visits and shots can be dreadful for both parents and children. But it doesn’t have to be so. Here are some easy tips to help prepare your baby for the well child check and soothe your baby while getting shots.
It’s obvious to be stressful for the kids; imagine being stripped down to bare bottoms in front of multiple people, and then for them to touch you to make sure you are okay. It’s confusing and uncomfortable to the children. And very often it ends up being an unpleasant experience for everyone, often building a fear of doctor’s office in the subsequent visits.
However, there is one thing that is amazing about kids: they trust adults. So with very little help and explanation, they are more comfortable with the entire process.
There are a few simple things you can do to have a more pleasant experience at the doctor’s office, and this is a sure shot process that almost always works.
Yes, You are the game changer.
When you show nervousness, children sense is very quickly and get terrified. Remember — you are the adult, you are the leader. So, if you are scared, they’ll obviously be scared. You have to prepare yourself for the shots, the pain, and the entire experience, and understand that this is required and good for them.
Once, you get comfortable with it, you help them be more confident as opposed to scared, because they trust you. You can normalize the situation. Because really, that’s what it is, its normal and everyone goes through it.
Shots or Vaccinations are the biggest fears of moms, it worries them a lot. Moms are so bothered about how these shots are going to hurt their baby, or how their baby is going to hate them or how will they deal with those big needles (yes they are scary and seem so big especially when they are for your baby) plus there are multiples of them, not just one.
Here is the solution for it; focus on the positives.
When you think of the shots and the big needle, instead of thinking about the pain your child might have from it, focus on how they are good for them because they save your kids from so many lethal illnesses.
[bctt tweet=” At the doctor’s office; Instead of worrying about the shots, the big needle and the pain; think about how they are good because they save your kids from so many lethal illnesses. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVES. ” username=”nestedblissfuly”]
I understand it can be difficult to look past the pain, but preparing yourself ahead of time helps, it helps a lot.
Maybe the night before the visit, and if you are very anxious then taking time to understand your child’s visit a couple days before the doctor’s visit helps a lot. I don’t usually do this: but thinking about the worst possible scenario helps, not expecting it but just thinking about it, makes the real outcome seem manageable.
That’s 50% of work done, up there. You getting prepared and normalizing the situation. And the next 50% is easier than that.
Unlike your worry, the most uncomfortable part for the children are not the shots it’s actually the confusion of “What’s happening and why are you doing this to me?”.
It’s very awkward to be undressed for other people, although children don’t mind it at all at home; but at a random place, it’s weird. After all, we don’t do this to them at any other place, so they don’t know this is coming.
The doctor is not always a stranger but sometimes is, being touched by this person on bare skin, who they don’t see often is sure to feel uncomfortable, and then all the peeking and poking on the body parts especially face is very confusing and unpleasant.
Until — you explain to your baby what to expect.
Since now you are comfortable with the visit, you’re perfectly capable to explain it to them. What to expect at the doctors’ office, why the doctor is doing what they are doing including the shots. Explain the expectations to them in great detail, starting from the beginning of the visit to the end of it. I’ll give you an example later in the post.
I find that for babies a good time to tell them what to expect is right before getting ready to go for the visit. And for toddlers who are always interested in moving and are a lot more aware and expressive of their emotions, it’s good to tell them what to expect the night before or in the morning and then remind them of what you talked about in short while you are getting them ready.
But honestly, you are going to be a good judge on what is a good time, all you need to keep in mind is it’s a time when you have their full attention, and that’s all.
Tell them about the visit to the nurse station to check height and weight. Doctor’s physical exam, including you talking to the doctor about their health and habits, and sharing your concerns with the doctor.
It’s important to not rush through the details, especially if you are worried about the shots. Your child will sense your worries and will get uncomfortable with it. When you talk about the shots, show them the spot where they’ll get them. So touch them on their thighs, with your finger to tell them where will they get shots. Tell them that, it’ll hurt and seem like a big pinch for the moment when the needle is poked, but it’ll be alright and a very quick uncomfortable experience.
Don’t tell them it’s nothing, or ask them to brave it. It’s painful but necessary, and that is all that they should be told.
When you tell them the truth of the entire visit, they’re a lot more responsive, adjusting and actually look forward to doctor’s visit when you treat them right.
Treat them with respect and dignity, instead of trying to sneak things in between or trying to distract them and then doing things to them and see the wonderful change in their doctor’s visit.
This article from WebMD on how to ease the pain from shots for your babies has some very helpful advice, however, I don’t agree or follow the “Baker’s dozen”.
At the end of the post, there is a downloadable Cheat Sheet for what to say to your baby to prepare them for Doctor’s office. It has step-by-step detailed explanations of what you can say to your child in the well-child checkup at the doctor’s office.
I’m speaking all this from experience.
The day I planned this post, my son ended up in the urgent care to get two stitches on his lip. He got a big slit on his lip from hitting the side rail of the bed. I was so angry with myself for even planning a post about doctor’s visit, that I didn’t write this for over a month, just like all moms do, I blamed the incident on me, which was not true or good.
At the urgent care, I explained every step to him. Told him the expectation of waiting at the reception, them checking his lip and mouth. Told him what stitches and needles are and that it’ll hurt, and why we need to put them. Told him about everything that was going, what the nurse practitioner and other staff are doing.
We didn’t expect stitches, so I was kind of taken aback when they told us, he’ll need stitches. Lip is one of the most sensitive parts of the body to get stitched on. So when they went to arrange for tools, I took a moment to understand the entire situation, so I can give my son the confidence he needed.
I told him you’re going to get this injection in your gums and it’ll hurt, and the stitches are going look very scary and uncomfortable, but I am going to hold him through every step.
He cried and pushed back a lot but he did amazingly well and was done crying as soon as the two stitches went in. Usually, they need two nurses for the procedure to hold the child in place, but we were able to do it only with one of them, and everyone was amazed at how good he did, and how quickly they could do the procedure.
I thought they’re just trying to make us feel good, but my husband who is a family medicine doctor was also surprised at how well our little guy did. He mentioned this was one of the most co-operative kids he’d seen. And then he told me how it can be really thought to put stitches on children and how sometimes he has to call for more than 2 staff to put stitches on much harder surfaces than lips.
We were so proud of our son. But I can bet it would have been a lot different scene, had we tried to sneak the stitches while distracting him or if we would have lied to him that it’s nothing and wouldn’t hurt, and all that.
After the procedure was over he did not develop any resentment for the doctors’ office or seemed scared at all. Getting stitches on the lip was a big and painful experience, and yet to resentment. On the other hand, for a week he reminded me that he hurt his lip and the doctor helped his heal it.
You see — your child trusts you and believes in everything you say. So it’s really important to not lie to them, even if you think it’s good for them. You’re only going to confuse them and make them feel bad about the whole experience.
The doctor’s office, the staff, and the doctor can all be scary and uncomfortable for everyone. Since we go there when we don’t feel good or to make sure we’re doing good. There is a lot of stress associated with it, no matter the situation. At such a place; you are the only person who they know dearly and trust. So it’s very important you don’t betray them.
In this stressful environment, you’re their ray of hope and rock for support. They believe in you. It’s important to come up-to with their expectations and, tell them the truth and assure them that you’re going to be with them every moment.
Knowing that you’re there with them is the real comfort.
Trust in yourself and extend the confidence to them and see the magic happen!
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