As a parent, easing your little one’s pain is often first priority after shots. Here are five helpful ways to minimize soreness and calm your irritable baby.
When my children were babies, I loathed doctor appointments. I knew that routine visits were necessary for their health, but I hated the pain that vaccines caused. While I did my best to soothe my little ones, their high-pitched crying would leave me heartbroken.
No parent likes to hear the distressed wails of their baby caused by routine vaccinations. Fortunately, the process is quick and the pain a mere pinprick that’s over in seconds.
The problem often comes later – hours after the injections. Like all medications, vaccines can have side effects that can cause your baby to be tired and irritable.
Common vaccines can cause a variety of side effects, such as temporary pain and short-lived flu-like symptoms, according to The Hospital for Sick Children in Canada. Some babies may also have swelling, redness, or soreness at the injection site.
What the Experts Say
During and after immunizations, children may become fussy due to pain, fever, and other common side effects. You can reduce your baby’s discomfort by making sure he is well-rested and physically comfortable before getting shots.
Parents can also try different treatment methods at home to relieve any minor reactions to the vaccines.
Here’s what some experts have to say about soothing babies after shots.
“When your baby is getting a shot, hold her in your arms to comfort her; if possible, breastfeed her to reduce the pain she experiences. Plan for a quiet day at home after her appointment to soothe her.”
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“Although there are many possible side effects of vaccines, most children either do quite well and experience no adverse effects or have only minor side effects after getting a vaccine.”
100 Questions & Answers About Childhood Immunizations, Thomas H. Belhorn
“Some children have poor reactions to certain vaccines. For example, the side effects of DPT shot (a combined vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) include anywhere from one to three days of fever, loss of appetite, and general irritability.”
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bringing Up Baby, Signe Larson, Kevin Osborn
“While some parents believe that not having their child inoculated will protect her from possible side effects of vaccines, they inadvertently wind up leaving the child vulnerable to the very real possibility of disease, a far greater risk.”
The BabyCenter Essential Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, Linda J. Murray, Anna McGrail, Daphne Metland
“Pain relievers are more effective at preventing fever and soreness than reducing it, so ask your doctor about giving your baby an appropriate dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen about an hour before your appointment.”
The Babytalk Insider’s Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, Babytalk Magazine
5 Ways to Soothe Your Baby Post-Shot
Lessen the sting of your baby’s vaccines by implementing simple soothing techniques. Not all methods will work to comfort your baby so continue to try new ones until you find one that works.
Many moms have found that swaddling their babies during and after shots helped to comfort and diminish their cries.
During the appointment, swaddle the baby in a way that keeps the chest and arms securely wrapped while leaving the legs uncovered. If you prefer not to swaddle, hold your baby so that he feels warm and reassured.
“Babies cry regardless of what level of mastery in baby soothing you have achieved or how easily soothed your baby is,” writes Alexis Dubief at Precious Little Sleep. “However, in addition to helping other soothing techniques to work more effectively – swaddling alone seems to result in a 28% reduction in crying.”
For breast-fed babies, your breast is a comforting place. Consider breastfeeding your baby as he is getting the shot and/or directly after. Babies who are breastfed during their vaccination generally cry less, according to a study published by The Cochrane Collaboration.
If you don’t breastfeed, try giving your baby a bottle or pacifier.
Distracting your little one with his favorite toy may be your best bet for minimizing his cries. Play a favorite tune or bring along a toy that moves, makes sounds, or lights up. Pull out the toy right before the injection to get your baby’s attention.
If you don’t have a toy, distract your baby with something colorful or interesting, such as a poster on the wall or cars driving by a window.
Gently massage the injection site directly after the shot. One study in adults found that those who rubbed the injection site for just 10 seconds after a shot had less pain, according to an article published in Canadian Medical Association Journal. Massaging the area beforehand may also help lessen the pain.
Fever and other flu-like symptoms are common side effects of vaccinations in babies. Many health professionals recommend giving your child a pain reliever before their appointment and for a day or two following the visit.
This trend has been called into question in recent years, however, with some studies showing that giving a baby tylenol before shots can lessen the effects of the vaccination. Parents do this to ease fevers, but that may not always be the best route.
“However, fever after a vaccine isn’t necessarily bad — it’s a natural part of the body’s response,” writes the Associated Press. “Curbing fever, especially the first time a baby gets a vaccine, also seems to curb the immune response and the amount of protective antibodies that are made, the new study found.”
Talk to your child’s pediatrician about the right medication for your baby, whether you give it to your baby before or after your doctor visit.
Taking the time to calm your baby during and after shots will result in less stress at your next appointment. While you can’t always take your little one’s pain away, you can ensure that your baby feels safe and secure in your arms.