Immunization against deadly diseases is a very important part of your baby’s life during the first 6 years. Vaccinations help you keep your baby protected from pathogens while the immune system is still developing. However, for most parents, this can be a very stressful time, especially when it comes to vaccinating their baby for the very first time. To begin with, vaccinations can be painful for the baby. In addition to that, some of them may lead to side effects as well. To make this process less stressful for the baby and for yourself, you need to make sure that you are well prepared.
Before you take your baby for the shots, you must know why is it important in the first place. A vaccine induces a small amount of disease causing bacteria and viruses into the body. This induction triggers the baby’s immune system to produce the antibodies that are necessary to fight the infection. Therefore, the immunization shot actually teaches the body to react by producing the same antibodies to fight the disease whenever it is exposed to these germs again.
Also Read: 5 things you should know about painless vaccination
Vaccinations are the hardest for newborns to two-month-olds. This is because during this phase the baby often receives multiple injections or combination shots to fight multiple diseases; thus causing significant discomfort. Therefore, being prepared will help you manage the process better, making the whole experience less stressful for both you and your little one.
Important things to remember for the first vaccination of your newborn
#1. Make sure you have an appointment
Most hospitals and pediatric clinics give you an appointment letter after each vaccination or send out automatic reminders for the next shot. Make sure that you have booked an appointment, so that you don’t have to wait in line for indefinite periods of time and make the baby cranky right before the shot. It also helps you to plan, organise and get ready on time.
#2. Feed the baby before the vaccination
It is best to feed the baby before the shot so that the baby is not hungry or whining right before or during the time of vaccination. Many paediatricians also suggest feeding during and after the shots to keep your little one calm. Your baby is likely to be less irritated or agitated if she is well fed and might even sleep through the waiting period.
#3. Always carry your baby’s health record along
Along with the vaccination schedule, you will be given a personal health record of your child. This should be carried along every time you go for vaccination, so that the same can be updated and you can be advised accordingly.
Read: Painful vs Painless vaccination. Which one is more effective and why?
#4. Do not rush the appointment
When you visit your pediatrician, make sure you have enough time on your hands. You need approximately one hour for each vaccination appointment. This gives you enough time to calm your baby down, ask your doctor all the necessary questions and also to calm your own nerves.
#5. Dress your baby appropriately
Avoid dressing the baby in heavily padded, too tight, or layered clothing for vaccination. Opt for something that is easy to slide up or pull down. For children under the age of 12 months, the vaccination is given on the thigh while toddlers usually get it on the arm.
#6. Take measures to ease the process
Keep your baby distracted when the injection is being administered on her. Hold her close and calm her with motivational words and assurance. Stroking and cooing helps. You can even nurse or bottle-feed your little one while administering the vaccine.
#7. Stay calm
A mother’s stress always translates onto the baby. Never assume that the vaccine is going to be the most painful thing that your baby has ever had to endure or its possible side effects. Stay as calm as possible. This will help you manage the situation better.
Read: Most common questions asked by parents regarding vaccination
Here are some tips to provide the correct vaccination aftercare:
- Sometimes, children may develop allergic reactions to the vaccination. There are rare chances that your baby may have seizures or run a high fever, you must ensure that he or she gets medical attention immediately.
- Sometimes a sponge bath helps with high fever. However, take your doctor’s advice first.
- If the reaction is a not a major one, such as irritability, mild fever, or a loss of appetite, stay by her side, keep her surroundings quiet and try to keep her comfortable while distracting her from the pain.
- Continue breastfeeding your baby even if she develops a fever from a vaccination. She may get finicky from the pain, but never skip a feed. Feeding is comforting for the baby.
- Ice packs also help if your baby has too much pain.
- Inform your pediatrician about any allergic reaction and pay heed to his/her advice.
- With some vaccinations which are more likely to induce a fever, the doctor will prescribe necessary medication.
- Never give any medication without consultation as it may interfere with the vaccination.
What if you miss the vaccination?
In case you miss a vaccination as scheduled, remember that you can pick up where you have left off. It is not a cause for major concern, as long as you get your child vaccinated at the earliest.
Make sure you have some support system full of close friends and family to help you with the vaccination schedule. Have someone accompany you the first few times to ease off the stress. It is good to remember that most vaccination symptoms get better within 24 hours and are completely gone in two to three days.
Also Read: Can my child get his missed vaccination at later date?
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