Every child has a fear of facing the needle when they go to the doctor. I was one of those people too!
The truth is that most doctors don't like doing blood tests on kids because it isn't easy and it makes us rapidly unpopular! Luckily there are some tricks we can use to make everyone's life easier...
- Talk: simply explaining to a child what you are going to do and why may help them feel a little more comfortable - often their idea of something is much worse than it actually is.
- Everyone stay calm! You'd be surprised by the number of kids that pick up nervous vibes from their parents.
- Use the smallest needle for the job: this is one for the doctor to decide (depending on the test).
- Distraction: a great technique in all ages. Often a toy will allow you to do a test without them even realising!
- Magic cream: does exactly what it says on the box! It's a special cream that numbs the surface of the skin. It has to be put on a while before the test as it takes time to act. The only down side is that it can cause a skin reaction and can make things more difficult in smaller children - so it may not always be suitable.
- Cold spray: works like magic cream. This is an ice-cold spray that numbs the skin temporarily. It wears off quickly so it is applied just before the test is done - definitely takes the edge off things!
- Feed: babies can be easily placated with a small feed either just before or during the test - careful not to give too much as they may vomit!
- Don't move! This might seem obvious but I have to tell people time-and-time again. If you move during the test it could be uncomfortable and may take longer!
- Sweets: we're not talking Werther's Originals here but a special sucrose solution which can be given to babies and infants. It works by releasing endorphins which are a natural pain-killer. However, this method is less effective as the child gets older, isn't available in every hospital and too much isn't good for teeth!
Remember that we only do blood tests when we really have to in kids, and sometimes we have to be just as brave as you do!