Childhood Diseases

Updated 08 April 2016

Take the sting out of injections

Kids don't like injections any more than adults do. But sometimes we just don't have a choice. Here's how to make them less scary for your little one.


Injections are, unfortunately, a necessary part of life. Vaccinations protect against dangerous, life-threatening disease, while other shots are sometimes necessary to ease disease symptoms, to anaesthetise or to boost immunity.

Time for a jab? Make sure you’re prepared for what can be an uncomfortable visit to the hospital, clinic or doctor’s room:

•    Explain ahead of time that the shot will sting a little, but that it will help a lot more.
•    Consider telling your child exactly what to expect and why he should, for example, keep his arm still. You can use a teddy or doll to mimic the experience at home before you visit the doctor.
•    Reassure your child that you’ll remain with him while he gets his injection or his blood drawn. Hold his hand, give him a hug or let him sit on your lap while getting the shot (if possible).
•    Let the nurse or doctor know ahead of time that the child is afraid of shots. Ask them to consider using a local anaesthetic.
•    Take the child’s mind off the shot by bringing along a favourite toy or book.
•    Encourage your little one to count, talk, sing a song with you, or distract him with a picture on the wall. He should know, however, that it’s okay to cry if he wants to.
•    Let the child wear earphones and listen to his favourite song.
•    Try not to look upset or concerned.
•    Encourage your child to breathe deeply and relax.
•    Encouraging the child to cough as the needle enters the skin may also help to reduce pain.
•    Have something fun planned for after the appointment.

- (Hayden Horner, Health24, October 2014)


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Prof Eugene Weinberg worked in the Paediatrics Department of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital for many years. He is presently a paediatric allergist at the Allergy Diagnostic Unit of the UCT Lung Institute in Mowbray.

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