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toddler-care

Your toddler's immunisations

What to expect and when, with our guide to toddler vaccinations

Your toddler was protected from eight childhood diseases during their first year.

Now it’s time for the next set of immunisations. Here’s what to expect.

At a glance

  • What immunisations to expect in your toddler's second year
  • All about MMR
  • Boosters
spare-toddler

More protection for your little one

Just after your little one’s first birthday, they will be called up for three different immunisations: their first MMR vaccine, plus booster jabs for three immunisations they’ve already had: Hib/Meningitis C and pneumococcal infection and (as of September 2015) Meningitis B.

MMR

The MMR protects them against three infectious diseases – measles, mumps and rubella – and it’s important to take up your appointment as soon as possible after you’re offered it. That’s because the side-effects of these diseases can be very serious, even life-threatening. You’ll be an expert in immunisations by now – as your little one will have had eight jabs in their first year. So you’ll know that they will probably cry a little, may have a slight fever afterwards – but they’ll be generally fine. Sometimes for mums it’s the thought of a jab that’s worse than the jab itself!   Don’t forget to bring your Red Book to the appointment. 

The MMR vaccine is given as an injection in the thigh or upper arm. There may be some redness and swelling afterwards, but it won’t last long. If your toddler has a high temperature it’s best to postpone the appointment until they’re better; get advice from your GP or practice nurse. The MMR jab protects your little one from:

Measles

A viral infection that can lead to serious complications, sometimes fatal. These include a bacterial infection in the lungs (pneumonia) or the brain (encephalitis) and deafness. Outbreaks of measles are on the rise in the UK because of a fall in the number of children being vaccinated between 1998 and the mid 2000s. This was due to a scare about a possible link between the MMR and autism/bowel disease, but that research has since been discredited. Studies over the past 10 years have found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Mumps

A viral infection that used to be common in children. It causes painful swelling in the glands below the ears. Serious complications are rare, but mumps can lead to viral meningitis if the virus moves to the outer layer of the brain. It can also affect fertility if it causes swelling of a man’s testicles or woman’s ovaries once they get past puberty.

Rubella

Also called German measles. Another viral infection; it causes a distinctive red rash made up of small spots. It’s dangerous for a pregnant woman to catch rubella in the first 20 weeks as it can disrupt the development of her baby. Because the MMR contains weak versions of three illnesses, your little one may get side effects from them at different times after the jab. These are usually mild. Some children get no side effects.  After seven to 11 days they may get a very mild form of measles, sometimes called ‘mini measles’, with a rash, high temperature, loss of appetite and a general unwell feeling for two or three days. After three to four weeks, a few children may get a mild form of mumps, with swollen glands in the face and/or neck which disappear after a day or two. A few children have seizures six to 11 days after the MMR, but this is extremely rare: your child is more likely to suffer seizures from getting measles itself than having the vaccination. Very occasionally a child can have a severe allergic reaction to the MMR, but if this is going to happen it will happen immediately and the nurse or doctor giving the injection will have been trained in how to deal with it. It’s alarming but they make a full recovery.

Hib/Meningitis C

This can be done at the same time as the MMR. It’s a booster dose of the immunisations they had as babies; it’s a single jab containing protection against Meningitis C (second dose) and Hib (haemophilus influenza type B) (fourth dose).

Pneumococcal infection

This can also be done in the same appointment as the MMR at 12-13 months. It contains the third dose of the pneumococcal vaccine.

Meningitis B

Meningitis B is a new vaccine added in September 2015, and it also takes place at the same appointment. It’s a single jab containing protection against Meningitis B and is a booster dose of the injections given at 2 and 4 months (third dose).

This might seem like a lot of vaccines all at once, but don’t worry: the nurse or doctor should give each jab in a different place (usually thighs and upper arms). Although this might leave your little one looking a bit like a pin cushion, this stops each area from getting too sore. You might want to clear your diary for the rest of the day, and maybe the next one for cuddles and extra attention, just in case they’re feeling a little unimpressed with the whole situation or develop a mild fever as a result of all the jabs - and remember, you can always give them paracetamol if you think they need it.

Read our tips on best ways to cope on the day of your toddlers immunisations.

Find out about the next stage of your little one’s vaccination schedule.

At a glance

  • What immunisations to expect in your toddler's second year
  • All about MMR
  • Boosters
The MMR vaccine protects against three infectious diseases – measles, mumps and rubella 

Your toddler's immunisations