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.

What can I do next?

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.

Hi M.!
My name is E. and I have a three yr. old daughter named madisen! I know you have gotten many responses to this, but I had to enter mine. I actually went through the same thing you did. I had to hold my daughter also and was screaming!! I was also crying horribly!! Peditrician's should accomodate the baby as best as they can to make them comfortable and in our arms is not one your right! I hope you have changed pedi's because I have since that!

I prefer to hold my child, and I do at our Pedi's office. They are awesome there. They try to accomadate what the parents prefer.

I can't believe the nurse gave you the bandaids. Never once during my son's immunizations or my daughter's have they ever done this to me. Our nurse automatically wears gloves (I believe they're supposed to anyhow). The most she's ever had me do is hold the gauze while she undoes the bandaids. I love my nurse and think she does so well. Yeah, I wouldn't be comfortable with the way they are handling the situation. Good luck and I hope you find a way that works best for you!

Hi M., Okay I would be soo upset if a medical professional ever said that to me about the blood and not touching her.Yes she should be wearing gloves, and yes I believe that is her job. As far as the holding her down part, I think a lot of docs offices do that now b/c of lawsuits. But in my experience I have a very stubborn little girl, who hates needles, They have actually had me step back, and they did it, so I guess it all depends on the office. But if I was you I would call and complain about being spoken to like that. I used to work in the health field and I know you have to treat every patient as if they were infected with something to be safe, But you never make the patient feel like they are. Wearing gloves is the perfect protection, thats what docs wear when they perform surgery right, so why is she scared of a little blood. I would def speak to someone about that.

This is normal practice for the parent to hold the child while being injected. However, for the nurse to tell you, "I'm not touching her, she's bleeding" is absolutely out of line. You should speak with the office manager regarding this. Yes, she SHOULD be wearing gloves. WOW...

I've always held my son and the nurses have always had on gloves. I would call and ask to speak with your pediatrician directly and ask about that procedure. I'd also see what will be happening at the 24 month check up so you can be prepared and maybe not get that same nurse. So sorry that you had to go through that today!

I hold Samantha when she gets her shots. There was a study released a while ago that indicated that the baby (I believe this was a study specifically about infants) recovered from the pain of the shot quicker when being held by a parent.

However, it should be an option. If the parent is not comfortable with restraining the odds are that something is more likely to go wrong. It is also out of line for the nurse to not assist with putting on the band aid. If you have not already spoken to the office manager or peditrician about this nurse I would. The practive might not be away of this and if they are, you should really consider changing offices.

I would take this up with your dr's office.. if you aren't comfortable holding your child during shots, then tell them so they can help you.. and YES they are supposed to be wearing gloves so THEY can put the bandaids on.. that's crazy!!! It's hard to see your little one in pain, but think of the alternative if she didn't have the shots.. a little pain now that she will get over versus a major sickness that could really hurt her. Do you give her motrin before shots?? Right before you go, give her a dose to help her with the pain... also , bring a snack or a toy she really loves to hold on to.. do NOT tell her next time that she's having shots (she may remember and freak out before hand). We've all been there - hang in there..

Dear M.,

It kills me to hold my daughter down during her shots also, but I believe it is pretty common.

The nurse should have had gloves on though, and she should have done the bandaids!! I would mention it to the doctor.

The good news is that you probably won't have to go through this again for a while. There is a pretty big stretch after the 18month shots.

Good luck next time.

the reason they told me they have you hold your child is that you are the parent and you are the calming reasurance that they need. you can also distract them works on my kids really well and as far as bandaids go and the nurse she should have put them on and I would file a complaint with the doctor against this nurse its her job she needs to find herself a new job if she can't handle this one. good luck

M., Tell the nurse, in advance, you wish for an assistant to be present as you do not want to be in the room as it makes you anxious and baby, too. Just stand outside the door and you can go in as soon as over. I had this happen with only one of my 3 children...do you know when I went out the room he never cried? Not once. I stood and waited for the scream to go in and "be the mommy-hero" and he did not cry not one time. So the next visit, I held him...and he yelled and screamed. LOL.

As for gloves, absolutely. YOU insist that they wear gloves. It's possible she wore gloves for the injection and took them off soon after, however, I too have seen nurses give injections without gloves and that is not what I was taught when I was in medical training...it's too easy to pass possible staff infections from person to person from infected area's...including countertops and previous patients. Don't feel that you are an "overbearing" mom by insisting....trust me, your not and who cares what they think? They should know better.

On another note, and it has nothing to do with your question...but what REALLY irks me more then anything is when these nurses come out to call you from the waiting room and call the patient by first and last name. That was the BIGGEST no-no back in Ohio when I had my training. I was real upset when they did that with my minor son in a crowded lab waiting room full of adults. I wrote the hospital Administrator. They addressed my concern and understood and would implement a solution. Well, 2-months later at his next visit....they called him by first and last name again. <sigh>

Take care, C.

You're definately not overreacting. They should definately be wearing gloves & they should never expect you to put on the bandaide. I've had two experiences at two different doctors offices. When my son was young they would lie him down on the table & two nurses would hold his little legs & give him the injections as quickly as possible. I usually stayed near his face & tried to distract him, then picked him up as soon as possible. My other experience was to hold him myself which usually did involve me restraining him. Now with my daughter, I choose to hold her, but it's my choice. Also, when my son gets injections, he's now 4yo, I ask them to give it in the thigh because it hurts less. That should always be your option. Injections are an unpleasant experience for you & your daughter, your doctors office should be willing to accomodate you & make you comfortable with what is happening or you should think about finding a new pediatritian.

I am speaking as a nurse and a mother of a two year old. I work at an office giving vaccinations. We do ask the parent to hold the child to keep them calm. If the parent does not want to hold the child then we call someone else to. In my opinion I would rather hold my son then someone else. IF someone else were to hold him that would scare him even more. I completly understand what you are saying about making the parent the bad guy but you dont exactly look like a good guy when you let a complete stranger hold your child down while you watch.

I always put my own bandaids on. We are not required to wear gloves when we give vaccinations. The needle is sterile and we do not touch the part that goes into the body. That nurse was wrong to say that she would not place the bandaid on. She should have put gloves on and did it herself.

I'm sorry you had such a traumatic experience. I hope you let your doctor know that what you experieced was not proffessional.

My name is S. and I work at a pedi office as a nurse. The thought on the immunizations is usually it is the parents responsibility to hold there child, because it makes the child feel safer to be held and or touched by someone they know and trust then someone they don't know and trust. When a childs sole means of transportation is walking the shots then go in there arms because it hurts less then in there legs becuase they use there legs more then they did prior to walking. If you feel uncomfortable with a certain nurse I strongly strongly advise you to discuss that with your doctor and ask for another nurse, if a nurse isn't friendly and child friendly it can make the whole situation much worse. And you can always ask if someone can come in and hold your daughter the next time and I am sure if someone is available they would be glad to come in and help you out. I personally don't wear gloves when I give shots because it is to hard to work with the band aids with gloves on, a nurse should of never asked you to put on your own bandaids EVER, I believe this whole experience you may want to bring up with your doctor or with the office manager, it sounds as if you and your daughter weren't treated as well as you should of been. You have to be comfortable with your doctor and the office as well as the nurses I am not saying your going to like everyone but you should always be treated with respect and dignity. I hope I could help you, S.

Dear M.,

When my son would get his injections and if my husband was not there witrh us... I always had 2 nurses in the room. One to hold him and one to inject him that way I wasn't the bad guy. And they should always be wearing gloves!! This is something you are totally allowed to say something about. Good luck.

Hi M.,
I just wanted to let you know that when my kids had their vaccinations I had to hold their arms just like you described so it's not uncommon for this to happen. Another thing is that the nurse seemed very unprofessional to not wear gloves and make that comment, I'd bring it up with your Pediatrician the next time you have an appointment. Just ask innocently if the nurses are supposed to wear gloves during the immunization process and then go from there. I hope I've helped! :-)

My son just had is 18 month checkup last week and this is what happened:

The nurse opened the bandaids so the sticky face was up
He sat next to me on the table.
She gave him a lolly pop
I held his arm for both of his shots
then put on the bandaids

I do not know who you see for a ped but I would look for a new one. I have never felt uncomfortable or ever had to question what my ped was doing to my child.
Best of luck

I have had the same experience with vaccinations at my pedi's office, however I am concerned about them not wearing gloves. My nurse always wears gloves for anything that involves shots, or drawing blood. I would ask questions about that. As far as having to restrain your daughter, I have done that as well. Its even worse when they need to draw blood, and I feel terrible everytime they do it. I have a 5 yr old and a 2 yr old. The 5 yr old I can explain the situation to, but my son I feel terrible for. I think its pedi's everywhere that do that.

Oh my! what doctors office do you go to? I have never had such a bad experience. My son is Three and I do help restrain him when he gets shots but not so tightly that he can't move at all. The doctor gets everything ready and does the shots kind of like a surprise very quickly, then I hold my son and tell him, it's okay, and all done, While I am comforting him the doctor puts on the bandaids and wipes away any blood. You should talk to someone in the office about your bad experiece. I don't know where you live but I go to Dartmouth Hitchcock clinic in Manchester NH and I love it.
~Good luck and God bless

First of all, yes she should've been wearing gloves!!! And she should've been the one to put the band aids on so you could console your child!!!
Second, I have three children, and I have always been the one to hold them while they get their shots. It's more of a comfort thing, I think that they know you wouldn't do anything that would harm them, reguardless of the pain. They 100% trust you, and if your the one holding them, it lets them know that it's a good thing. Plus, you're already there, so it makes it alot easier to calm them afterwards. Both my oldest are 9yrs, and 5 yrs....and to this day, they still want to sit in my lap and hold me while they get shots!!:) Trust me, children don't hold it against you...:)
Hope I helped, and good luck to you!

Hi M.,
i don't know what pediatricians office you go to but that is unacceptable behavior as far as i am concerned. i work in pediatrics as a medical assistant and our nurses give the shots bt i help out with holding the child if needed. we leave it up to the parent wether they want us to hold them or if the parent prefers to ho;d them thinking it would console the child. the nurse should be the ones to put the bandaids on the child immeadiately after giving shots and not leave it to you to do. i can understand about the gloves not being worn to put badaids on. they are very tricky to open and have a hard time getting badaids outof package and onto the arm, but still that is still unaccepetable behavior from the nurse (was it a nurse who gave the shots?) she doesn't sound she like she has a very good bedside manner. i would report her behavior to her supervisor immedaitely. next time ask for someone else to give shots instead of that nurse. or find another doctors office, your poor child has enough trauma going on without you having to be the bad guy and left to put bandaids on your child when you are trying to console her. i would definately report her though. good luck and that is just my opinion. she sounds like a brut like this nurse thatw orks at my office. i can't stand her and she has an awful bedside manner with the kids, talks way to much gets in conflicts with other staff and thinks she klnows it all and she is way to rough with giving the shots to kids, i won't let her give my son shots when he goes for his well visits. i have had amny parents tell me she was awful with their children. i told my these parents to form a complaint about her if thwey were not happy and a few have and she was giving a warning but still works there and still is a loud mouth, well hope some of this helped. K.

First, I feel your pain, but remember that your daughter won't remember these shots (thank goodness!)My twins had a reaction to their first round of shots @ 2mo old so I waited until they were 2yo to start their complete set of shots.(this is what I found to be my best option after alot of research, at this point they had no reaction at all) At 2 yo, they had me hold my daughters facing me in my lap to give them shots in their arms, so that part is normal. Yes, I believe the nurse should have had gloves on and she should have put the bandaid on for you. After all, what did she expect to happen after a shot, I understand that they have certain protocalls that they have to follow but that's even more reason for her to wear gloves, for your child's safety too! All in all, your daughter loves her Mommy, and though your heart breaks every time you think of it, she probably forgot about it a very short time after.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.