Being a parent is often a bit like a rollercoaster ride. It can be daunting, exciting and frightening all at the same time. Being responsible for the health and wellbeing of a little person or people can often feel overwhelming. During our classes, parents often ask us about baby immunisations and share their concerns with us. It is completely normal to feel anxious about the prospect of taking your baby for their immunisations, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the advice is as follows:
The NHS says routine vaccinations for babies and pre-school children are continuing as normal. This is because one of the best ways to protect your baby against diseases like measles, rubella, tetanus and meningitis is through immunisation. Your baby needs their first injections at eight weeks, then 12 weeks, 16 weeks and one year (you can view the NHS vaccination schedule here) and you can book your appointment via your GP surgery as usual, unless you, your child or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus. If this is the case then you should contact your GP or Health Visitor and postpone appointments until you have stopped self-isolating.
Bearing in mind baby immunisations can be distressing, the team at Mini First Aid would like to share some helpful tips to help make the experience easier for both you and your child:
. Don't forget to take your face mask as these are mandatory in NHS settings. You must also maintain social distancing
· Remember to take your red book to your appointment so it can be completed with up to date information
. Dress your baby in clothing which is easy to remove
· Allow plenty of time to get to your appointment. Last minute parking does not help your stress levels!
· If you cannot attend yourself, make sure you call the clinic or surgery to let them know you are sending a representative
· Never be afraid to ask questions. Staff would much rather answer your questions calmly than you going home feeling anxious about the unknown
· If your baby or child is old enough to understand, tell him/her in straightforward language what is happening. For example, you could say: "This will scratch but it will go away quickly” rather than telling your child: "This will not hurt." Your child needs to trust you
· Try and distract your child whilst they are being immunised. See our distracting tips below
· If your baby is having the Meningitis B vaccine (8w and 16w),it might be an idea to bring paracetamol (Calpol or equivalent) to give to your child as soon as possible. The taste provides a good distraction, as well as the medication taking immediate effect
· Finally, do your best to stay calm as your baby or child will pick up on your anxiety
· Noisy, musical toys with colourful lights work really well as does singing to your baby
. Try hiding a favourite toy or book for a few days before the immunisations to bring out during your appointment
· Older children (3yrs+) often respond well to a little ‘task’ such as asking them to practise wiggling their toes in their shoes. Explain the more they wiggle the better. Children often do not feel the jab if they are wiggling!
· Ask your child if they can count and encourage them to show you if they can count to 5. Ask your child to count again, just as they are having their jab and they often do not feel it going in
Afterwards: What to expect
Your baby will cry! For some parents it may be the first time that you have seen your baby shed real tears and it can be distressing. Many Mums (and Dads) shed a tear themselves as they feel terrible witnessing their little one in pain. Rest assured this is perfectly normal and there is no need to feel embarrassed. Lots of cuddles usually help (for both baby and parents!)
Some babies develop a red sore area where the needle has punctured the skin which can last for 2-3 days. This should go away on its own.
Some babies develop a high temperature following an immunisation. A high temperature is the body's natural response to fighting infection.
Your baby may:
· have red cheeks
· be sweaty and clammy
· feel hotter than usual on their forehead, back or tummy
You can usually care for your baby at home and their temperature should go down within 3-4 days.
Following your child’s immunisation(s), you should:
· Give them plenty of fluids
· Give them food if they want it
· Look out for signs of dehydration which include being thirsty, having strong dark yellow urine or a dry mouth or lips, sunken eyes or feeling tired or dizzy
· Give your child paracetamol (over 8 weeks of age) or ibuprofen (over 12 weeks of age)
· If you have any concerns, phone your GP, Out of Hours GP or 111.
We hope you find our tips useful. Remember that you are not alone!