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How to Comfort Infants Being Vaccinated

For Release:  April 16, 2012

​​​​​​​No one likes to see an infant in pain from the needle stick of routine vaccinations. But parents may be able to help just by the way they hold and comfort their baby immediately after the process, according to the study, “Effective Analgesia Using Physical Interventions for Infant Immunizations” in the May 2012 issue of Pediatrics (published online April 16). The researchers looked at 230 infants at their 2- and 4-month well-child visits. They assigned the infants to one of four groups by using a combination of two variables: water versus sugar, and standard-of-care comfort measures (such as pacifiers and distraction) versus the “5 S’s” plan. The 5 S’s, as described in the book and DVD “The Happiest Baby on the Block,” by Harvey Karp, MD, FAAP, are: swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging and sucking. A pain-scoring tool was used to assess the infants’ pain levels at 15-second intervals for two minutes. The researchers concluded that babies in the “5 S’s” group with or without sugar had significantly lower pain scores and less crying time compared with babies in the groups using the other comfort measures. Breastfeeding has long been used as a way to combine several comfort measures during infant immunization and other procedures, but for those mothers who are not able to breastfeed during and after the injection, the 5 S’s approach may provide comfort, the authors conclude.


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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.

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