I’m a Certified Child Life Specialist, which I’m sure many of you have never heard of, so let me tell you a little bit more about what I do every day. Child Life Specialists are educated and clinically trained in the developmental impact of illness within the hospital and outside in the community. Our role is to help improve patient and family care, satisfaction, and overall experience to aid in coping, and reducing trauma. We help infants to adolescents cope with the uncertainty of illness, and provide information in a developmentally appropriate way, so the child has an appropriate understanding. We provide opportunities for therapeutic play, preparation for procedures and education. It is through these avenues that we help aid in reducing fear, anxiety, and pain. 

While our job is beyond fun, it is also much more than that. I am not only the play lady, but I am also the educator, the advocate, the developmental expert. Some call me the keeper of bubbles, light spinners, and all things to help children cope! I thought it would be helpful to have some tips and tricks on supporting children through doctors’ appointments and making it easier for all the moms/caregivers out there having to support their child, I know it’s not easy watching your child have to get poked, so hopefully this will make it easier on you and your child! 

Infants: 

  • Allow the infant to become familiar with medical materials, even doctor play kits prior to going to the doctor. Familiarization can make the medical materials less threatening. 

  • Bring their transitional object i.e. pacifier or blanket to make them feel supported

  • Advocate for position for comfort! Allowing your child to feel comforted during a poke (lab draw or shot) can help with reducing trauma. See position for comfort poster – back to chest or chest to chest. 

  • Keep the environment as low stim as possible and use a calm soothing voice 

  • Try to keep as normal a routine that day as possible even if going to the doctor

  • If your baby benefits and is comforted by singing, then sing to your child during the lab draw or poke 

  • Buzzy bee – you can buy it on Amazon. It may be overstimulating for some infants. The premise is that it tricks your brain into thinking about the vibrations versus the poke. Videos on the website 

Toddlers: 

  • Be honest and prepare your child! Let them know they are going to the doctor. Use simple concreate language to explain what is happening. For instance an injection. Ex. They are going to give you a poke to help give your body medicine that it needs to stay strong, help you stay healthy, etc. Also just like infants, any familiarization with medical supplies aids in making it less threatening.

  • Be sensitive to the language you are using: 

 

    • Instead of saying “it will hurt” or “it won’t hurt” say “it may feel uncomfortable” or explain what it feels like. 

    • Give concrete cues to when it will be done

    • Instead of saying “don’t move during the poke”, give the toddler a role, “your job is to stay really still like a statue” or “you are doing such a good jobs staying still”

 

  • Coping tips:

    • Crying is ok, it’s a way of coping 

    • Some kids like to be distracted

    • Some kids like to focus on the procedure and watch to help them cope

    • Follow their lead. Don’t say Don’t – phrase instructions positively 

 

  • Position for comfort! 

  • Give choices when possible 

  • Just like infants, try to keep a routine as much that day as possible

  • Buzzy bee 

  • Don’t make it a reward unless it is something sustainable, like a sticker chart. Kids will have to get pokes and injections the rest of their life for multiple reasons, so we don’t want to make it a reward if it’s something that they need. 

  • Bring transitional item for comfort 

  • Coping kit items to bring for your child if they benefit from distraction: 

    • Light spinner

    • Bubbles – distracting as well as promoting relaxation 

    • I-Spy Book

    • iPad (a game they can play with one hand or a movie)

    • A pinwheel they can blow. Helps with breathing and aids in relaxing their body without their knowledge 

 

Feel free to reach out to kelly.stewart710@gmail.com for any other questions! 

More on Buzzy Bee: https://buzzyhelps.com/

Tips to help with coping, and reducing trauma in infants and toddlers during medical procedures

November 19, 2019

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