We’re so grateful to Erin, of Erin’s Inside Job, for partnering with us to share how she prepares her toddler for shots! Read her full blog post here.

Up until this second-year visit, prepping Miles to get shots wasn’t a thing. He didn’t have the cognitive awareness to understand what was happening and it was just a quick check-up, shots, and lots of hugs. He was over it almost immediately. Now that he is going for his two-year wellness check-up and understands things much more, there are some things I plan to do differently so that we have a smooth experience. Here are some of the tips I’m using for how to prepare your toddler for shots.

Tell them the truth

The best answer to how to prepare your toddler for shots is simply to be honest about it. Let them know about a day beforehand that they have a doctor’s appointment and what that means. Let them know that the doctor will see how much they weigh, how tall they are, and do some listening to their breathing. Tell them that they will be getting some shots, which may hurt, but that they will be done quickly and that you will be there the whole time for them. If they’re a little older, answer any questions they may have, but if they’re young like Miles then I’d just leave it at that. Remind them again as you’re on the way to the doctor’s so they know what to expect.

Try distraction

Needles can be scary even for adults, so try and distract them when it’s shot time. Try showing them something the other direction, read them a book they like, or anything that can help draw their attention away from the shot itself.

Remain calm and collected

In unfamiliar situations (and even familiar ones), children often draw their emotional cues from their parents. If you’re anxious or scared, they will pick up on it and often mirror that emotion. Remain calm and collected, even though no parent likes to see their child endure any discomfort. This tells them that it’s not a big deal and they will tend to react less emotionally. If you’re a parent who doesn’t do well with shots, consider having the other parent be the one to accompany your child to the visit.

Be there for emotional support

When the kids are younger, you often have to hold them while they get their shots. Remind them that you are there for them and when it’s over, be there to soothe them if they’re upset. You are their safe space and it’s important for you to let them feel their feelings.

Give a treat

Optional, but if you want to offer a treat after getting shots, this is another good idea to help ease the sting of an unpleasant experience. Consider taking them for a special food or somewhere they like like the playground. Sometimes just a sticker from the doctor can help them feel better.

If you’re questioning whether or not to vaccinate your child, please take the time to ask questions and do some research about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. I have found a great source of information at I Vaccinate, where many of the most common questions are concisely answered in one place with scientific sources. I 100% recommend their website to anyone who is on the fence about vaccines.