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Pain-free Injections in Babies

For the page on Painfree Injections in Children over 1 year of age click here​. ​​​​​​​​​

Vaccinations will protect your child from harmful infectious diseases. Vaccines must be given with a needle, which causes pain; this experience can be stressful for both babies and parents.

Below are some methods you can use to help reduce the pain and anxiety associated with having your baby vaccinated.


 Reduce the pain of vaccination in babies


Planning ahead

Before your baby’s vaccination appointment, discuss your plan for pain reduction with your doctor so they can support you in this plan. All of the information below is based on scientifically proven research done by experts at SickKids and across Canada.

Before the vaccination

Use of topical anesthetics

Topical anesthetic creams or gels may be applied to the area where your child will receive their vaccine, in order to reduce pain. In Canada, these products are available over the counter; they must be applied between 30 to 60 minutes prior to injection. It is important to discuss this option with your doctor, and to ensure that the anesthetic gel or cream does not contain any ingredients that your child is allergic to.

Distract your baby

Take with you any items that you can use to distract your baby during their vaccination. These items might include toys, pacifiers or bubbles. You can also sing, talk or direct your baby’s attention to other things in the room in order to distract them from any pain that they might be experiencing.

Sugar water

Giving your baby a small amount of sugar water before vaccination has been shown to reduce perceived pain. You can make sugar water by mixing 1 packet of sugar with two teaspoons of water. Using a syringe or dropper, place the sugar water one drop at a time, into the side of your baby’s mouth (between the tongue and cheek). You can also dip your baby’s pacifier into the sugar water. Only use sugar water for this purpose. Using water on an ongoing basis is NOT safe in babies.

During the vaccination

Hold your baby

Holding your baby helps to provide comfort during the vaccination process, and will also help them to remain still.

Breastfeed your baby

Like giving sugar water, breastfeeding before, during and after vaccination reduces perceived pain. Breastfeeding provides the benefits of distraction, holding and sweet taste, which all work to soothe your baby.

Stay Calm

If you are feeling anxious before and during your baby’s vaccination, this might increase feelings of anxiety in your baby. Even though you may feel stress related to vaccination, try your best to remain calm; use your normal speaking voice, and take slow, deep breaths.

For more detailed information on the suggestions given above, please download this handout.

Pain-free Injections in Babies EN.pdfPain-free Injections in Babies EN.pdf

Anna Taddio, BScPhm, MSc, PhD