Both my wife and my mother have suggested that we not hold our son while his pediatrician is giving him shots; instead, ask to have a nurse do it. My wife referenced an idea that we should get our son to associate us with calm, not pain, and that by us holding him while the doctor is giving him shots he may make damaging associations between us and pain. Has anyone else done this? Does it really make a difference?

asked 01 Dec '09, 21:03

Matthew%20Jones's gravatar image

Matthew Jones
accept rate: 18%

edited 01 Dec '09, 21:09


Not to be terribly mean, but are you suggesting that 10 seconds of pain override days upon days of joy your baby normally experiences with his parents?

(01 Dec '09, 21:30) MrChrister

I would also think that being held by a stranger (think "pictures with the mall Santa") would be more traumatic than the reassuring arms of a loving parent. Regardless, it's a good question. +1

(01 Dec '09, 23:00) Jeff

MrChrister: If you read his question, he really suggest the opposite. However there exists persons who suggest what you said (his wife and mother), so he asked the question in order to be certain. I think many n00bs might have this question. And look at what great answers with referenced information he got, answers which are now readily available for all who might think about it? If moms4mom is going to be the world's leading QA-site on parenting, it needs all kinds of questions, including 'simple' ones.

(02 Dec '09, 14:13) runaros

@runaros, I could be wrong but I believe you missed the 'spirit' of @MrChrister's comment. I don't think he was criticizing the original question or the poster. Rather, he strongly believes that a few seconds of temporary trauma for parent and child cannot possibly overcome the bonding between them. Perhaps he might have worded it differently, but the up-votes on his comment suggest people agree. :)

(02 Dec '09, 16:32) Jeff

This seems counterintuitive to me. I would think that an infant's emotional distress at the pain would be lessened by having someone familiar near. This is what the University of Michigan Health System website suggests:

What about when infants have to have shots or other medical procedures?

Procedures are invasive medical treatments.  They may be mildly invasive, such as stitches, shots, and blood draws, or they may be more invasive, as in surgery.  Medical procedures can cause your baby emotional distress as well as varying degrees of pain. 

As all parents know, children receive a series of vaccine shots in infancy.  One study found that using easy behavioral interventions helps babies feel less pain and stress with these shots. The University of Michigan researchers simply had parents distract and engage their infants with sucking (breastfeeding, finger or pacifier), rubbing, rocking, singing, or getting them to look at an interesting object while the staff person got the shot ready.  If possible, the parent continued the distraction while the staff person gave the shot.  EMLA and giving glucose (a sugar solution) together were found to alleviate immunization pain in a study of three-month-old infants. Another study found that when parents held their babies, let them suck and gave them a sweet solution during a series or four injections, the babies cried less than without holding and sucking.  Both parents and nurses found this strategy easy to use.   For venipuncture (blood draw), a study found that glucose on a pacifier was more effective at reducing infants’ pain than EMLA cream.    Breastfeeding, or a pacifier dipped in sugar water is also helpful in decreasing the amount of time spent crying after medical procedures. A review of 17 different studies on giving sucrose with or without sucking on a bottle or pacifier concluded that sucrose is safe and effective for reducing pain from minor medical procedures; however, the dose, use in preemies, and repeated use need more study.

So the bottom line of all these studies is:  during shots, blood draws, and other minor medical procedures:

  • Hold your baby, if you can, during the procedure and/or afterward.
  • Breastfeed or give sugar water in a bottle or on a pacifier during and/or afterward.
  • Use other forms of distraction, such as sucking, rubbing, rocking, singing, shaking a rattle, showing a toy, etc. before, during and afterward.
  • Ask your doctor about applying EMLA cream before scheduled shots and blood draws.

answered 01 Dec '09, 22:05

Kiesa's gravatar image

Kiesa ♦
accept rate: 26%

Major +1 for the sugared pacifier. Helped a lot for our kids when they were in the NICU.

(01 Dec '09, 22:57) ceejayoz

We have done the contrary. During the first couple of months we would go to the pediatrician together with my husband and we both took turns holding her. The first few shots took place without much fuss, as soon as the shot was over I would take my daughter in my arms and hold her, stroking her back while the pediatrician would place a small band aid on her arm.

If it is a regular shot then, it is usually over very quickly and not too painful, however as they get older, and are able to recognise their doctor some infants can start screaming as they enter the doctors surgery, and if they realise they are getting a shot they start to move their arms which means that some form of mild restraint would be needed.

Our pediatrician always suggested that we hold our baby, during the shots, particularly when the arms start to fly around. He would ask us to lightly keep her arms held down, and once the shot had been administered I would again hold her again comforting her immediately by speaking with her and rubbing and stroking her back.

If you are a person who tenses up at the sight of a needle, then it may be better for someone else to hold your child.

So I would think that the familiarity of a parent would ease or null the pain away quicker than a nurse handing your baby back to your after the shot has been administered.


answered 01 Dec '09, 22:57

Emi's gravatar image

accept rate: 19%

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Asked: 01 Dec '09, 21:03

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Last updated: 01 Dec '09, 22:57