When I first became a parent, there were so many things that I was concerned about from the minute my daughter was born – is she warm enough? Is she getting enough to eat? Does she love me yet?
The love that I felt was instant as she stared into my eyes. I had never felt more fierce than I did in that moment. I promised her that day that I would protect her from whatever I could, a lioness and her cub, from birth right up until she decided it was time to spread her wings and take on the world without me.
Making this promise forced me to face up to challenges that I had not previously been faced with, including immunisation. There were no hesitations when the nurse asked if she could vaccinate my daughter before she left the hospital – my husband and I knew that we wanted her to be fully vaccinated, I was protecting her. But what I later learned was that I wasn’t just doing the right thing by my daughter, but also for all of the people that she would encounter throughout her life, young and old.
The first vaccinations were tough. She cried that heart-wrenching delayed cry, the one where they look you in the eyes as if to say ‘why are you doing this to me?’ My heart hurt every time she had to endure the needle pricks, so I started looking into ways to make the immunisation process easier – for both me and her.
After doing some reading online, speaking with my doctor and crowdsourcing from my amazing group of family and friends, I adopted the below tips and tricks and they really changed the way our time in the Dr’s office played out.
1. Get informed.
Any decision in life is easier and feels right when it is an informed decision – and vaccination is no different. It is important to know the facts about vaccination, what it prevents, and the safety and effectiveness of vaccination in Australia. I was not up to speed when it came to the exact diseases that vaccinations prevent, as well as why so many people were telling me not to let people kiss my daughter when she was born. Reading up on these things really solidified my decision to vaccinate. Ask your GP or childhood nurse for more information or visit the Government’s new Get The Facts website to learn more so you can feel educated on your decision to vaccinate.
2. Calm the farm.
Children can often sense when a parent is upset or distressed, which in turn can cause them to go into a state of panic and upset themselves. The doctor's office can be daunting and the idea of vaccinating your child upsetting (we never like to see our babies upset) but it is super important that parents remain cool, calm and collected in the lead up to, during and post vaccination. By keeping a calm demeanour and environment, bub will be relaxed and the process will be much smoother and calmer for all involved. The tip that worked for me was reminding myself over and over again why we were vaccinating – this was enough to make me feel good.
3. Home comforts.
Just like Dorothy said, there’s no place like home, and taking along those creature comforts can turn the doctor's office into somewhat of a sanctuary for your little one. The smells, the familiarity, comfort items like blankies, dummies and that favourite little bunny can really help to soothe the little patient. They can also take their mind off where they are and what is going on, which leads me to the next trick…
4. The art of distraction.
Many kids are easily distracted, so this little trick is good for both mum and bub. Creating distractions like singing their favourite song, telling jokes or making funny faces can take their minds off what is happening. You can also use their favourite comfort items from home to role play or, if the older kiddies are amazed by technology, perhaps a tiny bit of tablet time could do the trick. Also, don’t underestimate your doctor, they do this every day and may very well have some great advice of their own. My doctor distracted my daughter once by having an assistant pose as Queen Elsa while waving around the frosty liquid nitrogen gun that removes warts. It worked a treat!
5. Keep it real.
As kids get older, it gets harder and harder to pull the wool over their eyes. Their curiosity is one of the most endearing things about them and when it comes time to vaccinate, let their curiosity be rewarded with the facts.
Tell them why they need it (that it saves lives) and what it prevents, while also explaining that it might hurt at first but it doesn’t last long. Let them keep asking questions until they are satisfied with what they have learned. And as a bonus, they are likely to tell their friends why vaccination is so important.
6. Stick to the plan.
Skipping or delaying vaccinations can put your child as well as those around them at risk of serious disease, so ensuring that you vaccinate your child on time is critical.
Many doctors and childhood nurses have great immunisation schedules available that have a magnet for the fridge, or you can find the full National Immunisation Program Schedule on the Get The Facts website. Print it out, stick it in a prominent place, and vaccinate on time, this will create less stress for you and a safer community overall.
7. And lastly, celebrate.
Vaccinations are a big deal for kids. The feeling when it’s over though is one of relief, and for my daughter, achievement. Give your kids lots of cuddles and tonnes of praise, let them feel and know just how important it is and how wonderful they did. They are protecting themselves from preventable disease, as well as others in the community. They should be proud of themselves!
The fact that my daughter is fully immunised gives me peace of mind that I have done everything I can to protect her, just like I promised. As a community, we have the opportunity to really decrease the possibility of preventable diseases, and with the above tips and tricks, hopefully you can find peace in a smoother vaccination process for you and the family so that next time you visit the doctor's office, you can handle vaccinations like a boss.
If you’d like more information on how immunisation saves lives, visit immunisationfacts.gov.au.
Do you have any tips and tricks that you can share?
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner the Australian Government Department of Health.
93% of Aussie kids are fully vaccinated, but it’s not high enough. As parents, we all need to do more to protect our kids - especially newborn babies - from serious disease. The Australian Government’s ‘Get the facts about immunisation’ campaign has been developed to give you the facts about immunisation so that you can make informed decisions in the best interests of your child and our community. Click here to get the facts about immunisation.