29 answers

Who Holds Your Baby When They Get Vaccinations?

We had a pretty rough time at my daughter's 18-month visit to the pediatrician today. The nurse had me restrain my daughter while she gave her two vaccinations. I've held her gently on my lap in the past when they've given the needle in her thighs (which was bad enough!) but today they gave the injections in her arms and they had me hold her so tight that she couldn't move while she howled and sobbed. I understand that the baby can't be allowed to jerk away in the middle of an injection, but should I be the one restraining her? Shouldn't it be someone who works at the office? I guess my issues are (1) isn't my daughter supposed to trust that my arms are a safe place for her, and (2) it's traumatic enough for a mom to see her little one in pain, but making her contribute to it seems inhumane. I'm wondering if I'm overreacting, or do all pediatricians do this?

Also, when it was over and I was trying to calm my hysterical daughter, the nurse gave me the bandaids to put on the injection sites. I had a hard time opening them, what with the crying, shaking baby and all, so she did it for me but told me "I'm not touching her, she's bleeding." Shouldn't she be wearing gloves for this anyway??

Any input would be appreciated.

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More Answers

It's been the same way at my pediatrician's office as well. My son is 19 mos old. I've always been the one to hold him during his vaccinations. I agree that we, the parents, shouldn't have to be the bad guy. I have worked as a veterinary assistant for the past 8 years and have experience in 3 different vet practices. In all of them we have never had the owner hold their pets for vaccinations or blood draws (unless the owner requests it) because we want for the pets to trust their owners. The veterinary professionals should be the bad guys. It's that simple.

As for the nurse not putting the band-aids on your child because she was bleeding, to me that is unacceptable. And of course the nurse should definately be wearing gloves. The fact that she wasn't/doesn't concerns me.

I would think it should be up to the mom to hold the child; there might be an issue with who can legally restrain her. I doubt you'll find a doctor's office where they would be willing to do it for you, though they should be willing to help if it gets difficult. I doubt it would be any better for your daughter to see you watching them hold her down and not doing anything to help her. To me, that would be worse; at least if you're helping to restrain her, maybe she could understand that it is unfortunately something she needs to have done. Kids do learn they have to do things they don't like or that cause them pain sometimes, especially in medical situations. Trying to convince her that you will always be able to save her from that kind of pain is probably not a good idea. Shots are infrequent enough that I wouldn't worry about any psychological issues springing up from it.

As for the nurse and the band-aids, however, I would find a new doctor's office, or at the very least complain to the doctor. OF COURSE the nurse should be wearing gloves--ALWAYS when doing anything that will be breaking the skin (some would say when treating any patient for anything, regardless). Your daughter's health is at stake here, too. The nurse should also be in charge of putting on the band-aids, and she should already have them partially open and ready to slap on to minimize the traumatic experience. In no way should that be your "job"--that's why you're paying them. That bleeding thing is just nonsense. Obviously somebody picked the wrong line of work. That's very wrong!

I sometimes wonder what we pay such exorbitant health care costs for. I have raised 4 children and I know that vaccinations have always been done with me holding my children down. I believe that it is more traumatic for Moms than babies. It hasn't had a negative effect as far as I know. But the nurse should not have made you put on the bandaid, that's unbelievable. I would look into this a little further. I would be appalled myself.
Good luck!

Hi M. - I guess I am going to tell you the same thing that everyone else has. The attitude of the nurse is appalling and I would certainly report it.

My four year old has been getting three allergy shots a week for the past 16 weeks and now we go to every other week for 16 weeks. She HATES it and I have to hold her while she gets them. I always try to give her the opportunity to try to be a big girl and it did happen once but I know what happens. I have to be creative and hook my leg around hers because she will kick me or the nurse while I am holding her arms while she gets the shots. I feel like I am the human straight jacket. As traumatic as it is for her, it is for me as well BUT the I love you Mommy on the way home - every week - lets me know she is okay.

Good luck.

Hi M.,
I am only speaking from my own experiences, but I have always held my kids in my lap too when they were receiving vaccinations. I was never an issue until yesterday! My 5 yr old had to have blood drawn for a Lyme Test and he was petrified. We could not calm him and 2 nurses came in to restrain him with a sheet. The test HAD to be done due to a bulls-eye rash that was present. I did not restrain him. I held is face and looked him in the eyes telling him he was safe and that I would not let anyone hurt him. He kept his eyes on me and calmed down enough util they drew the blood.

I agree with you 100% that that nurse was WRONG to make you restrain your child. She was WRONG to throw the bandaids at you and WRONG to make you and your child feel like leppers because she was bleeding. I would tell the doctor what her nurse did and said and if nothing was done about it, I would consider going to another office.

Good luck and ALWAYS trust your instincts!

i agree that they should hold them down. i also think they should stick to the leg. as far as the bandaids, our old ped used to do it. basically the whole thing sucks!

My doc has us hold our son during his shots, but it isn't usually anything that makes either me or my husband uncomfortable. we just hold him still and the nurse usually helps!


When my children were babies, I held them in my arms for each vaccination. I comforted my kids for each of their vaccinations: they comforted me too, as I had tears in my eyes knowing they were in pain from those shots. And yes, the nurse should have been wearing gloves during the entire process.

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