How can I help comfort my child before, during and after the vaccine visit?

There are things that you can do before, during and after vaccine visits to make them easier and less stressful.

Before the visit
Come prepared! Take these steps before your child gets a shot to help make the immunization visit less stressful on you both.

  • Read any vaccine materials you received from your child’s health care professional and write down any questions you may have.
  • Refer to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended schedule to see which shots are recommended for your child’s age.
  • Learn more about the benefits and risks of the vaccines that your child will receive by reviewing the Vaccine Information Statements. You can find the Michigan-specific versions of the Vaccine Information Statements here. You can also request these documents at the doctor’s office.
  • Find your child’s personal immunization record and bring it to your appointment. An up-to-date record tells your doctor exactly what shots your child has already received. If you don’t already have a copy, you can talk to your child’s health care provider to request one.
  • Pack a favorite toy or book, and a blanket that your child uses regularly for comfort.
  • A mild illness is usually not a reason to reschedule a vaccination visit. Learn more about vaccines when your child is sick.

At the Doctor’s Office
If you have questions about immunizations, ask your child’s health care provider. They will give you Vaccine Information Statements for the shots that your child will be getting that day. These sheets include information about the risks and benefits of each vaccine. If your doctor doesn’t give you one you can request one.

For babies and younger children
Try these ideas for making the shots easier on your child.

  • Distract and comfort your child by cuddling, singing or talking softly.
  • Smile and make eye contact with your child. Let your child know that everything is ok.
  • Comfort your child with a favorite toy or book. A blanket that smells familiar will help your child feel more comfortable.
  • Hold your child firmly on your lap, whenever possible. Learn more about how to hold your child during shots.

Once your child has received all of the shots, be especially supportive. Try these tips for soothing your baby:

  • Swaddling (wrapping the baby in a blanket for warmth and comfort)
  • Skin-to-skin contact
  • Offering a sweet beverage, like juice (when the child is older than 6 months)
  • Breastfeeding

For older children and adolescents

  • Take deep breaths with your child.
  • Point out interesting things in the room to help create distractions.
  • Tell or read stories.
  • Support your child if he or she cries. Never scold a child for not “being brave.”

Before you leave the appointment, ask your child’s doctor for advice on using non-aspirin pain reliever and other steps you can take at home to comfort your child.

After the shots
Sometimes children experience mild reactions from vaccines, such as pain where the shot was given or a slight fever. These reactions are normal and will soon go away. The following tips will help you identify and minimize mild side effects.

  • Review any information your doctor gives you about the shots, especially the Vaccine Information Statements or other sheets that outline which side effects might be expected.
  • Use a cool, wet cloth to reduce redness, soreness and swelling in the place where the shot was given.
  • Reduce any fever with a cool sponge bath. If your doctor approves, give non-aspirin pain reliever.
  • Give your child lots of liquid. It’s normal for some children to eat less during the 24 hours after getting vaccines.
  • Pay extra attention to your child for a few days. If you see something that concerns you, call your doctor.

Source: CDC: Your Child’s Vaccine Visit


You’ve got questions. That’s a good thing.

As parents, determining how best to protect our children can be overwhelming and confusing. We’re here to help.

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About I Vaccinate

I Vaccinate provides information and tools based on real medical science and research to help Michigan parents protect their kids. Support is provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Franny Strong Foundation.

You’ve got questions. That’s a good thing.

As parents, determining how best to protect our children can be overwhelming and confusing. We’re here to help.

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