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Baby’s Vaccinations: How Bad Are They? How To Prepare For Shots

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As traumatic days for moms go, my son’s first set of immunisations at two months ranks pretty high. After the doctor examined him, the nurse came in with the shots. JabJabJab. A pause. Then that intake of breath, and WAAAAAAA!

The nurse suggested breastfeeding him to comfort him, but he was screaming too much to latch on. It took what seemed like an eternity for him to calm down enough to latch on. Then he wouldn’t let go. They let me sit in the office with him, then half-an-hour later they needed the room so we had to leave. He screamed all the way home, all the way around the pharmacy because I had no Tylenol at home, all the way back in the car, then nursed, half-asleep, for approximately five hours. Then he was fine.

Injections do hurt, and also it’s a big shock. Babies usually have never experienced pain like that, and they have no idea the shots are coming, hence they really scream their hearts out after vaccinations. My son set the bar pretty high for his reaction to the shots, but almost all babies are upset by vaccinations.

Modern vaccination injections have chemicals called adjuvants in them. The job of the adjuvant is to cause the body to react more effectively to the vaccine, making the vaccine work better, but also making the injection site hurt more. It’s very common for babies to have redness or bumps at the injection site, and their legs will be quite sore for a few days. Your doctor should tell you what is a normal reaction to each vaccine, but if you are at all concerned, then call your doctors’ office. That’s what they are there for. And here’s a few tips to make the shots easier.

  • Buy infant acetaminophen – brand name Infant Tylenol, also sold as store brands – before the appointment. Your baby’s pediatrician will probably recommend a small dose, but do check with the pediatrician before giving any medication to your baby. The doctor will be able to tell you how much, and how often is appropriate. You can bring the bottle with you to the appointment and give baby right after the shots if the pediatrician gives the OK. Don’t use any other pain relievers except acetaminophen unless your pediatrician expressly tells you to do so.
  • Dress baby in comfy, non-rubbing garments to the appointment and for a few days after. Almost all infant vaccination injections are given on baby’s thighs. Clothes like shorts, skirts, and soft sweatpants will minimize irritation. Tights and jeans are out. Avoid tight waistbands which are very difficult to get on without hurting the injection site. If it’s warm, forget pants altogether.
  • Nurse, or give baby a pacifier or bottle, whatever comforts your baby most after the injections.

The first few sets of shots are the worst, but It does get easier each time. By the time my son’s one-year shots came around, he took them with just a whimper and then started flirting with the nurse to get a sucker.


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