This simple tip can help reduce needle-related anxiety

This simple tip can help reduce needle-related anxiety

Does your child have an upcoming flu shot appointment? You may be faced with helping manage their anxiety and fear around needles. Dr. Diana Bottari, pediatric pain specialist at Advocate Health Care, offers a simple way you can help.

“By performing a comfort hold, you can reduce not only the pain that can come with vaccinations but also the anxiety, which is often worse than the pain,” she says.

Comfort holds are ways to hold your child during a procedure while decreasing movement without pinning them down.

“When you hold a child down, you are increasing their anxiety by taking away any sense of control of the situation they have,” Dr. Bottari says. “By utilizing a comfort hold instead, you’re comforting them while also decreasing movement.”

Dr. Bottari says comfort holds are appropriate for infants, toddlers and young children alike. “They help both the caregiver and child feel more at ease and in control,” she explains. “It also gives the caregiver an active role in supporting the child in a positive way.”

To help manage their fear of needles, check out these three simple ways to perform a comfort hold during your child’s next vaccination.

Front to back

The child is in the caregiver’s lap. The caregiver hugs the child, securing their upper arm and torso. This is an ideal position for children who want to observe.

 Side to side

The caregiver stands or sits at the child’s side and hugs them, helping to secure their upper arm and torso. This position works well for children who can remain still and want to observe.

 Chest to chest

The child sits in the caregiver’s lap. The caregiver hugs the child, securing the upper arm and torso. One of the child’s arms remains available for the vaccination. This is a good position for children who do not want to observe.

Do you need to schedule your child’s flu shot? Click here if you live in Illinois or here if you live in Wisconsin. 

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  1. I LOVE THIS! Thank you for giving me the correct verbiage to use going forward, I have tried to advocate this for my girls to alleviate their anxiety but many doctors are unwilling to try new methods or aren’t patient enough to do so which begs the question as to why they chose to work with children in the first place. Comfort hold, a million thanks from this mom to you Dr. Bottari!

  2. Bonnie Vastola-Lewan October 20, 2023 at 5:30 pm · Reply

    Perfect Dr. Bottari! Side-to-side comfort hold also works great for looking into young patients’ ears – parent/caregiver can gently hug body with one arm and hold head to chest with other, allowing perfect access to ear!

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.