7 Ways to Distract Your Child During Shots
Discomfort during an injection is typical, and so is the child’s reaction. Parents and caregivers may feel anxious when their child cries, screams, and tries to squirm while receiving a shot. What caregivers and parents can remember is that these reactions are normal, and healthcare professionals who work with children experience these reactions every day. Nonetheless, there are several effective ways to distract a child during a shot.
Distraction refers to the shifting of attention from one thing to another. According to the study Randomized clinical trial of distraction for infant immunization pain, distractions are also beneficial for babies while they receive injections. Using distraction techniques can make office visits for vaccinations much less stressful for babies and children, as well as for parents and caregivers.
Vaccination Distraction Techniques for Parents and Caregivers: Do, Think, and Feel Tactics
To keep stress levels low and allow for a quicker office visit, distracting a child during the immunization process is probably the most important step that parents and caregivers can take. Some items that can hold a child’s attention include a favorite toy, an enjoyable video, or something to look forward to afterward like a trip to the park.
Parents and caregivers can use the seven suggestions below to distract a baby or child during a shot.
7 Ways to Distract Your Child During Shots
The items below are perfect for distracting a baby or child during uncomfortable medical procedures, including vaccinations.
1. Buzzy® Bee for Shots
Buzzy Bee for shots is a vibrating device with a set of removable blue, ice-pack wings. Using vibrations alone or vibrations with cold temperature, Buzzy Bee disrupts pain signals before they are able to reach the brain.
Understanding Pain Signals
When the body sustains an injury, a pain signal is sent to the brain. This pain signal travels along the nerves, but if the pain signal is stopped before it reaches the brain, the pain does not register.
Consider that while running cool water over a burn, the pain stops, or at least decreases substantially. The cool, running water confuses the nervous system, helping to block the pain signal from reaching the brain. The same is true when it comes to Buzzy Bee.
Buzzy Bee’s vibration and cold temperature can block pain signals before they reach the child’s brain, eliminating or greatly reducing the amount of discomfort the child feels with a vaccination.
How to Use Buzzy Bee for Shots
Place the Buzzy Bee above the area of injection and turn the bee on. That way, at the time of injection, the child’s nervous system is already jammed and preventing the pain signals from reaching the brain.
2. Bionix ShotBlocker®
ShotBlocker is a simple, washable piece of plastic embedded with dozens of blunt contact points, specifically designed to assist with blocking pain signals during injections. According to clinical trials using the Gate Theory of Pain, ShotBlocker effectively blocks pain signals about 80% of the time.
How ShotBlocker Works
According to the Gate Control Theory of Pain, there is a pain gate that nerve and pain impulses must pass through before they can reach the brain.
When ShotBlocker is pressed against the skin during the injection, the little nubs create sensory impulses that overwhelm the pain gate. By overwhelming the gate, the pain signals from the shot never reach the brain.
ShotBlocker Is Proven Effective
According to several studies, ShotBlocker has been proven to successfully alleviate the anxiety and pain associated with receiving a shot. On January 6, 2022, a press release from Bionix addressed the benefits and efficacy of using ShotBlocker.
3. An Expandable Ball Toy
An expanding ball toy helps parents and caregivers visually distract a child during shots. Using the expanding ball, parents and caregivers can provide the child with a visualization of their breathing pattern. This technique helps the child’s body and mind relax, promoting a feeling of calm.
How to Distract A Child Using the Expanding Ball Toy Technique
The parent or caregiver should slowly expand the ball while inhaling and contract the ball while exhaling. Parents and caregivers should emphasize that their breathing corresponds with the expansion and contraction of the ball. Ideally, the child’s breathing will begin synchronizing with the ball as well.
4. Oral Sucrose (aka Sugar Water)
Tasting something sweet can effectively decrease short-term pain and lower stress levels.
Until the baby reaches 24 months, the oral sucrose technique is beneficial; however, this technique is especially helpful for babies who are younger than 6 months.
The Sugar Water Technique
Parents and caregivers can dip the baby’s pacifier into a sweet-tasting liquid before the injection. The baby will then suck on the pacifier during the injection.
If the baby does not use a pacifier, the parent or caregiver can just place a bit of sweet-tasting liquid on the baby’s tongue. When placed on the tongue, the parent or caregiver should give the baby the sweet liquid a minute or two before the injection.
According to the clinical practice guideline Reducing pain during vaccine injections, the use of sweet-tasting liquid during the injection or directly before receiving a shot is an effective distraction technique.
5. Play Putty
What is Play Putty?
Play putty is stretchable silicone that you can mold and shape, and even bounces when compressed into a ball. In addition, play putty is available in a variety of bright colors.
Play putty can be explored by children using their hands. Focusing their energy on the putty is an effective distraction technique.
6. Comfort Positioning
Comfort positioning refers to the way a parent or caregiver holds a baby during a shot or some other medical procedure. Using comfort positioning techniques, parents and caregivers can help reduce the amount of stress the baby feels during an injection.
How to Distract Baby During Shots with the Comfort Positioning Techniques
Since calm is contagious, parents and caregivers should remain calm and slow down their own breathing. The baby’s breathing pattern should automatically change to match that of the parent or caregiver. In addition, to help the baby remain relaxed, parents and caregivers should speak in a soothing voice.
Parents and Caregivers Should Be Present During Injections
When a baby receives an injection, the presence of parents and caregivers is extremely important because a parent’s or a caregiver’s embrace offers several benefits.
These benefits include:
- Controlling the baby’s movements during the injection.
- Helping the baby feel embraced, as opposed to overpowered.
- Providing the baby with a sense of security.
- Reducing the baby’s stress level.
In addition, babies tend to display a higher level of cooperation when a parent or caregiver is present during a shot.
The CDC’s Comfort Positioning Technique for a Baby
Since babies receive their vaccination shots in the thigh, the parent’s or caregiver’s hold must allow access to this area.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- The baby should be in a cradle position on the lap of the parent or caregiver.
- The baby’s legs should be together and over to one side.
- Then, the parents or caregivers should place the baby’s arm underneath their armpit.
- Using their upper arm, parents and caregivers should hold the arm in the area beneath their armpit. In addition, the parent or caregiver should gently apply some pressure.
- The parents or caregivers should use their other lower arm and hand to gently, but securely, hold the baby’s other arm.
- If necessary, parents and caregivers can either use their thighs to hold the baby’s feet or their other hand.
Once the shot is over, it can take some time for children to settle down. During this time, parents and caregivers should provide comfort, and, with a soothing voice, state how well the child did.
Many times, receiving some type of reward (e.g., a special treat) after an injection helps the child cope with any post-shot emotions. SuperStickers are available at Metropolitan Pediatrics in a variety of options for toddlers and school-age children.
Understandably, new parents and caregivers frequently feel anxious about the vaccination process. Although a baby feels the pinch and sting of a vaccination shot, this pain is short-lived but provides the baby protection from serious diseases for years to come. These distraction techniques can help make the vaccination process easier for babies and children, as well as for parents and caregivers.
Metropolitan Pediatrics Can Help
Metropolitan Pediatrics providers understand how anxiety can accompany anticipation of the pain associated with immunizations. That’s why we offer our Comfort Promise with a variety of distractions and effective pain blockers to make the appointment more comfortable.