Hopefully you’ll never need this post, but if you are like me, you may have to deal with getting blood draws for your child. This may be a one time thing or reoccurring, like it was in my case! My son had Renal Tubular Acidosis, which is a condition where his kidney’s were immature and needed some help filtering his blood. The only way to check and see if the medicine was working and if we needed to change the amount he was having, was to do a blood draw. Beginning from the age of 10 months up until just a few weeks ago, he was having blood draws. At one point he was having them once a month, which was just terrible! After having SO many done, I picked up a few tricks you can use to make this unpleasant experience a bit easier on you and your child.
1. Go to a place thats experienced with kids. Some labs don’t cater well to little teeny arms. I personally experienced this when my son was just a baby and the lab I took him to took 4 tries to get it right. After that, I opted to take him to the hospital as an outpatient so the pediatric phlebotomists could do it. It did cost us a bit more, but it was worth it since they did it correctly on the first time. Check with your child’s doctor and your insurance to see what your options are.
2. Explain what will happen as simply as possible. If your child is at the age where they can understand whats happening, try to keep it as short and sweet as you can. Don’t use big or scary words to them, it’s already a nerve-wracking experience. Also, be SURE to explain that your body has MORE than enough blood and it’s ok for the doctor to take a little to test it. My son used to worry that he needed that and would get sick or hurt without it. Also, explain that the needle doesn’t stay in your bodies- it seems obvious, but again, this was something my son would be scared of. I had never even thought of that.
3. Bring a lovey. Don’t forget to bring your child’s favorite toy/blanket/stuffed animal with you for them to hold and cuddle during the blood draw. It helps to make it less scary when they have a familiar face to snuggle with.
4. Do it fast! When it’s time to have the blood draw, be sure to not drag it out. This is not the time to explain ever step. In my opinion, I would explain it BEFORE your appointment and the remind them of what will happen before you go into the room. Then, when your name is called, don’t dilly dally. They are most likely going to be scared and it won’t make it any less scary to talk all about it then. Be sure they are wearing a shirt that can easily be pulled up or a short sleeved one. Be calm, have your child sit with you on your lap and hold them tight. Let them hold their lovey and get it done with. My son never liked seeing the needle go in, but he liked seeing the blood come out after- he thought that part was interesting. So see what your child wants to see or not. Make sure you are using a calm voice and just make it as fast as possible!
5. Have a special treat for after. Stickers, colorful bandaids and treats are all a great reward for being a brave boy or girl. When my son was just a baby, I would be sure to breastfeed him afterwards in the car, this seemed to calm him down and relax him. When we was older, we would have a tradition of getting a donut after. During the procedure, I would be sure to change the subject and ask him what flavor he wanted, just to get his mind off of that few moments of scariness.
Thankfully a blood draw, if done properly, only takes a few moments and if you use these tips to make those moments even less scary for your little one!
Has your child had to get a blood draw done? What tips would you add to the list?