10 Ideas to Help Detraumatize Your Toddler During Vaccinations and Shots


1.  Bring a wing-man.

  • Make your partner come with you, or ask a grandparent, or auntie/uncle.  Schedule the appointment during your significant other's lunch-break if you have to.  Otherwise, you will likely be left holding down your little one by yourself - straight-jacket-style - during shots, which means that no one is there to distract your little baby. 

2.  Download apps on phone that your baby/toddler will be mesmerized with.  
  • My young toddler is obsessed with Elmo, so we have the "Elmo Calls" app on our phone.  This was VERY useful as a means of distraction during our most recent vaccination visit (she still cried...but this app made it so much better).

3.  Bring new or forgotten-about toys.  

  • Pull these bad boys out right as the nurse has the needle ready.  
  • Tip :  Hide the toys in your purse and make sure your little one doesn't see them ahead of time.
  • Here is a list of toys that my young toddler loves 5 Great Toys for Young Toddlers.  The toy remote control and the stuffed Elmo are great for vaccine appointment distraction.

4.  Consider spreading your little one's shots out over multiple appointments.  
  • This can be a good idea.  I wish I would have spread out my daughter's vaccines for her 12-month shots - she had to get four vaccines, plus a finger prick.  That was way too much for her and the appointment was a nightmare (read about it here at What To Know Before Baby's 12-Month Check-Up).  Spreading these shots out would have made it significantly less traumatic.
  • I highly recommend doing this if your child will be getting his or her finger pricked - that is the worst...the nurse squeezes the blood out...and it's so sad....seconds seem like hours while this is occurring.

5.  Make sure your little one has a good nap before your appointment.  
  • Tired Baby = unhappy baby.
  • Tired Baby + Vaccinations = VERY UNHAPPY BABY

6.  Make sure your baby has a full tummy.  
  • Hungry Baby = unhappy baby
  • Hungry Baby + Vaccinations = VERY UNHAPPY BABY 

7.  Stop at Starbucks on the way (for you).  
  • This will help you be a mommy ninja.

8.  Call your pediatrician's office ahead of time to find out details.  
  • Is it 3 shots, 4 shots? 
  • Is there a finger prick?  

9.  Reward brave behavior of your little one.  
  • Ice cream or shakes are a great way to reward your child for brave behavior following pediatrician appointment that involves vaccinations.

10.  If it's flu season, get the flu shot at the same time as your little one.
  • If you have a toddler, then show them how fun it is to be "brave."  
  • MORE IMPORTANTLY, get your shots before baby and then convince the nurse that she is "so good at giving shots!" (build up her confidence) and then, she'll try extra hard when it's time to put the needle to your baby).  I swear, this method is effective.


Share your tips for surviving vaccinations 
with your baby or toddler by commenting below!

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