Who fears immunisations more, you or your baby?
Here are tips for minimising the worry and stress of immunisations.
At a glance
- Bring a favourite toy or book to wave at the crucial moment
- You may be asked to stay at the surgery for a few minutes in case of a bad reaction (don't worry, this is very rare)
- Baby may get a bit irritable later in the day after immunisations
Immunisations: What to do on the day
Lots of new mums – actually, make that all – need a bit of hand-holding on the day of their baby’s immunisations, especially the very first jabs at two months. By the time they’re four months old you’ll feel like a pro. Here’s some advice that should make it easier.
Staying calm really does help
It’s true – we can pass on our anxieties to our baby. One study found two-month-old babies of first-time mums can feel more pain than those of more experienced mothers. So take some deep breaths and stay calm and confident so your baby doesn’t pick up negative signals. Feel free to take someone with you if you think it will help.
Things to bring
It can be worth packing your bag the night before if you think you’re going to be flustered on the day. Bring your Red Book, a few toys, the usual nappies, wipes and spare clothes plus anything you need for feeding. Kitchen sink optional.
Hold your baby securely
Your knee is the best place, but it you just can’t face it, the nurse will understand and ask someone else to help.
Smile (even if you don’t feel like it)
Make lots of eye contact and smile at your little one to reassure them. Talk to them softly and soothingly, even if it’s just babble and nonsense – they will love to hear your voice.
Take a favourite toy or book to wave at the crucial moment. They may cry or yelp when the jab is given – and give you a look that seems to say ‘how could you, Mummy?’ – but doctors say any pain they feel is pretty minor and doesn’t last long. So try not to feel upset.
Consider a feed
Giving them a feed afterwards while the nurse updates their Red Book can help take their mind off things, and may calm you as well! You will usually be asked to stay at the surgery for a few minutes in case of a bad reaction (don’t worry, this is extraordinarily rare).
What about painkillers?
In the past, mums were often told to give an appropriate dose of infant paracetamol before vaccination. But now doctors advise us to wait and see if our baby develops a high temperature (over 37.5C) afterwards before reaching for the medicine bottle. Not all babies will do this, but it’s fairly common. They may also get a bit irritable later in the day, and the injected area might be red with a small lump.