Many new parents worry about vaccinating their babies, and concerns can range from the sting of the needle to the threat of adverse reactions. The good news? There are things you can do to make vaccinations less upsetting, and vaccine reactions are usually very mild.
The Office Visit
One of the best — and often hardest — ways you can ease baby’s stress is to stay calm. A 2014 study published in Psychological Science found that stress is essentially contagious. Even infants can sense when their moms are feeling stressed and become upset themselves as a result. Take a deep breath, and focus on the fact that vaccines help set the stage for a lifetime of wellness.
During the appointment, distraction is key. A 2012 study published in Pediatrics outlines an approach known as the “5 S’s” — swaddling, sucking, swinging, shushing and side positioning — that may ease pain in babies ages 4 months and younger. Ask your child’s doctor if you can breastfeed or give your baby a bottle while the vaccines are administered. As soon as the shots are complete, swaddle your little one, gently swing her back and forth, or speak to her in a quiet, comforting tone.
As baby gets older and becomes more mobile, let your little one sit in your lap with a favorite toy or stuffed animal.
Once You Get Home
After getting immunized, your baby may seem sleepier or fussier than usual, have a decreased appetite, and/or have mild soreness or swelling near the injection site. Some little ones even run a low-grade fever. Signs of more serious reactions include nonstop crying that lasts for at least three hours, a high fever that exceeds 102.2 degrees, hives and wheezing.
If you have doubts about whether a symptom warrants concern, call your child’s doctor. If your baby has a high fever, a seizure or seems to be having difficulty catching her breath, take her to the emergency department or call 911.