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What to Do When Your Child is Afraid of Getting a Shot

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University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children'sExperts in Children's Health
Boy getting a shot at doctor's office

Many children have a fear of needles – and a child’s fear can often be more upsetting than the actual shot. To ease your child’s anxiety, try these tips:

  • Explain matter-of-factly what is about to happen. Tell your child that the shot will hurt a little bit only for a moment.
  • Distract your child with age-appropriate toys. For example, bring along a rattle for a baby, a bubble blower or party blower for a young child, or a video game for an older child. It might help to bring along a toy or book that your child has never seen before.
  • Help your child relax. Hold your child on your lap. Encourage him or her to imagine a beautiful picture or scene, or offer a soothing shoulder massage.
  • Ask your child's doctor about applying a numbing cream to the skin before the shot.
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