The very first time I took my very first baby to his very first immunization appointment, I was a bit of a wreck. I honestly think the entire experience was worse for me than it was for my little dude. Would he cry? Would he be inconsolable? Would he have a reaction? Would he ever trust me again? Because this was my first baby and his first appointment, I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was fine, because I can quote from the agenda I wrote in every single day of the first year of his life: “Your vaccines didn’t bother you much. You screamed during the injections, but that was it!”
So much has changed since I was a 29-year-old mother of one. (That first appointment was on my birthday, as per the aforementioned agenda.) I’m now closer to forty than I am thirty, closer to forming an entire basketball team with my progeny (yes, I had to google how many players you need), and about one-bazillion times more relaxed about all things motherhood.
If your baby’s immunizations are approaching and you’re worried about how you’ll make it through, I am here to give you some tips I’ve gleaned from taking my kids, including infant twins, to get their scheduled jabs. (That’s what the Brits call getting your shots, by the way. Everything sounds better with an accent!)
Keep Calm and You’re a Good Mom
Kids are like puppies. They love eating floor-food and they can sense your mood right away. For older kids, it’s important to teach them that it’s okay to feel nervous or scared before a needle, and to work on strategies to overcome those feelings. But for babies, I find the best course of action is to click your ruby slippers and make sure they pay no attention to the nurse behind the curtain. (Even if you’re feeling a bit queasy!) Again, babies are like dogs. Adorable and easily distracted!
Our public health nurses usually have a noisy, bright toy that they bring out right as it’s time to give the needle. So far the most successful have been a bell or a tiny rain-maker toy. For my first two children, I also had success nursing them during and after they received their pokes.
At our 18-month shots, neither twin made so much as a peep when the needle went in, nor after. (And this despite their big sister screaming and howling and proclaiming: “I’LL NEVER COME HERE AGAIN!” after she got her 4-year-old shot.)
With the twins, the pitfall of bringing them both in at the same time is that inevitably the second twin has to hear the first twin react to his shots. Parents of multiples know their babies’ personalities well, so pick who goes first to the best of your ability!
Timing is Everything
Do your best to schedule your infant and toddlers’ immunization appointments when you feel reasonably confident they won’t be tired or hungry. This is not an easy task, especially when you’re booking a few months in advance or there are limited time slots at your clinic. I default to the earliest morning appointment we can manage because my children are early risers (much to my chagrin).
If you’re staring down the barrel of a mid-nap appointment, do your best to rejig your day to your advantage. For me, this might mean imposing an early nap on immunization day by taking them out in the car (all of my kids are big on car naps). If hangriness is your enemy, move lunch up an hour!
Whether it’s one baby or two, set yourself up for success by planning the outfit. Typically they want baby undressed down to a dry diaper for the weighing and measuring part of the appointment, when they also check hip movement (at least in my experience in Alberta). One-piece, footed, zippered pyjamas (the infant twin uniform par excellence) make a lot more sense than coordinating socks, pants, t-shirt and sweater. A short-sleeve onesie underneath is practical because baby can wear it during the immunizations while leaving their upper arms and upper thighs exposed (depending on where the needle needs to go). Bring a blanket to keep them cozy while you wait. Don’t forget a clean diaper or two!
If you’re breastfeeding, don’t forget your breasts. If you’re bottle-feeding, bring your formula or pumped milk. If you’ve got a snacker, bring #allthesnacks. You never know when the clinic could have an unexpected wait time!
Remember to bring your child’s health cards and their immunization booklet. I tend to tuck these into the diaper bag the night before.
The biggest difference between bringing your infant singleton to an immunization and bringing your infant doubletons (yes, it’s a word) to an immunization is in the preparation. Assuming that, like me, you are attending these appointments without an extra set of hands, you really need to think ahead because you need a place to safely contain one baby while their sibling is being changed, examined and immunized. This might be in their infant bucket seats or in their double stroller. This is one of those times where, even though it’s fun to watch people do a double take as they realize you’re a super hero wearing two babies, a tandem baby carrier is not the most practical twin containment method.
Manage Fever and Pain with Children’s Advil Pediatric Drops
While I tend to keep a pretty lean medicine cabinet given the availability of 24-hour pharmacies, Advil Pediatric Drops are a mainstay at our house for managing fever and pain in my infants and toddlers.
When your child receives their immunizations, the nurse will go over possible side effects and reactions, which can include pain at the injection site and fever. Keep the information sheet they give you on the fridge so you can refer to it easily, and if you lose it remember that most information will be available from your provincial health authority’s website or nurse hotline. Even as a four-time mom, I still call our nurse hotline for reassurance and guidance, whether it’s a fever following a vaccine or because I think a twin has swallowed the zipper-pull from my purse. (Great news: he didn’t!)
Whether it’s before bed to help with a good night’s sleep (for all of us) or during the day so my babies are happy and ready to play, I choose Advil Pediatric Drops because they’re clinically proven to provide up to 8 hours of relief from fever.
What are your go-to tips for getting through infant immunizations?
This post is brought to you by Children’s Advil. Be sure this product is right for your kids, always read and follow the label.