How do you prepare a toddler for blood tests? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 07-16-2004, 02:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am planning on taking both dds to the doctor for a general check-up. I am sure she (dr) is going to want to run some lab tests on them to make sure everything is okay.

I would like to prepare them, especially dd1 who is 31mo. The last time she had blood test done she screamed the whole time, we had to hold her down so that she wouldn't get hurt w/the needle. I cried. It was terrible and now she panics when she sees anyone that might look like a doctor.

I want to know if you ladies have any tricks up your sleeves to ease the pain (sting) of that dreaded needle? I'm thinking maybe applying ice to her arm before going in. Would this help or make it worse---maybe it will slow down blood circulation and make the process even longer? What do you think?

What has worked for your children?
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#2 of 17 Old 07-16-2004, 09:11 AM
 
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We really struggle with the doctor here. DD has been terrified since her 4 month appointment. Yeah, go figure. People keep telling me kids that young don't have memories...

So, we've got one of those FP doctor sets. We play "going to the doctor" a lot. I listen to her heart, she listens to mine. I look in her ears, etc. It has helped some, but DH took DD with him when he went to the doctor (so forgot to really prepare here) and she flipped out. We're still working on it. Maybe you can find some books on going to the doctor as well?

Blood draw ~ Ask before you ice it. I bet the technicians have an opinion on that. Find a lab that's experienced with working with kids and can be fast. Our last draw was awful except that it took about 6 seconds.

Go for a treat when you're done. I wonder if one of the reasons I'm not that worried about blood draws or shots is that my mom always took me for ice cream right after, so I don't have that many negative feelings about it.
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#3 of 17 Old 07-16-2004, 06:34 PM
 
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Is there a particular reason why you think they'd be drawing blood? In all our well-checks for Talia, they only time they drew blood was at my request - I asked for a blood test for celiac disease, since it runs in our family.

As for ice, you'll have to ice it for a few minutes immediately before the needle is inserted. So, you'll have plenty of opportunity to ask the tech if s/he approves...

Also, I do *not* recommend holding her down screaming while people jab needles in her. I have a friend who's mother did that, and she is to this day (age 35) utterly terrified of needles, and can remember that event so clearly it still makes her shake. Unless it's critical to have the blood drawn that day (like to check blood cell counts during leukemia treatments,) if she's *that* upset by it, plan to come back another day and figure out a different way.

Perhaps asking them to do the draw first would help? That way she doesn't have time to get all worked up about being in the doctor's office, having strange and unaccustomed things done to her, before the "worst" part comes. Maybe bring a bribe with you - have your blood drawn, then you can eat a popsicle while the doctor looks in your ears and listens to your heart.
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#4 of 17 Old 07-18-2004, 11:16 AM
 
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We do a lot of preparation for events like that. When dd went to the dentist recently we read books about it for 1-2 weeks ahead of time and pretended to count her teeth on a daily basis and let her "count" ours.

We're getting ready for a blood draw here too. I recently let dd see me get blood taken, she sat on my lap while I explained everything that the tech was doing. DD thought it was really interesting. She pretends to take blood from all of us now, and I'm crossing my fingers that all of this preparation will help this week...

Good luck!

Shel - mama to three ages 8, 6 and 3yo
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#5 of 17 Old 07-18-2004, 08:51 PM
 
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id not be the one to hold her down.
id make the nurses or doctors do that.
be there to confort, but not to hold down, as the child can "blame" you for the pain, as they dont understand.

sorry to hear.

my son had a blood test once, but he didn't seem to mind.
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#6 of 17 Old 07-18-2004, 11:37 PM
 
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There is a cream called EMLA that will numb the skin. You can talk to your doctor about it. It needs to be put on for an hour before the blood is drawn.

Kirsten
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#7 of 17 Old 07-19-2004, 09:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepies
id not be the one to hold her down.
id make the nurses or doctors do that.
be there to confort, but not to hold down, as the child can "blame" you for the pain, as they dont understand.
I disagree. I think that while she may be angry at you for participating in something that makes her afraid/hurt, she'll be far more comforted by your participation than by your standing back and watching while Other People hurt her. In the latter situation, I think you'd be setting her up for lifetime fears of doctors, needles, etc. In the former, the fact that you, who love her and are gentle with her, are doing it will make it far less fearsome. Face it, even the most dedicated gentle discipline parent are responsible for occasionally incurring discomfort, accidentally or intentionally, very minor to fairly bad, from time to time; And yet, our kids love us and don't become terrified of mundane things.

n.b., By discomfort, I mean - making the child wait 15 minutes until dinner instead of getting a snack now, or staying in the car seat no matter how much she protests because you're on a controlled access highway with no safe place to pull over, or administering medicine, or removing a splinter from a wiggling finger, or ripping at a badly tangled-in hair tie before realizing that it must be cut out, or accidentally dropping something on her (personally, I tried to grab a heavy wooden croquet ball from Talia's raised hand the other day to keep her from throwing it at me, and accidentally knocked it out of her hand and onto her head... not a shining demonstration of agility on my part...)
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#8 of 17 Old 07-20-2004, 01:02 AM
 
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Definitely be the one to hold her. She may be more scared by strangers than by the needle.

Suckers. There was some study that actually showed kids cry less if they are busy sucking on a sucker during the shot.

I wouldn't prep myt hcild. They woudl just spend however lkong worrying about it. I would wait until the moment, tell they will get a little poke. It will hurt but will be over soon. here is a sucker, and when we are done we will get a treat.

reallyit is so fast, unless they will be having extensive blood work done they will hardly think about it. I hate itmuch more now than I ever did as a child (since we were poor they were constantly checking me for anemia, led poisining and other signs of malnutrition.) never even phased me. Now I darn near pass out. :LOL

My children who hate Dr.s really don't raise an eyebrow to having simple blood work done (as in the poke variety.) I am sure a vein draw would bemisreable for them. Be sure above all you have someone very good at working with children.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#9 of 17 Old 07-20-2004, 11:22 AM
 
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I still don't quite get why a general check-up entails blood work?? Wouldn't this only be done if other indicators pointed to a problem in need of diagnosis? Personally, I wouldn't let a doctor conduct 'routine' blood work on my child - but then I'm pretty 'hands-off' in the medical department. If this is part of your doctor's 'routine,' reconsider your doctor - doesn't sound family-friendly at all to me, as well as a waste of resources.

If for some weird reason, you do need to get blood work done, I agree not to allow her to be held down while blood is drawn. I was strapped down as a child and I'm still very, very phobic about needles! It sounds like she's already been traumatized by the last time, so you may need to work extra hard to turn this around for her. Maybe use videos, books, a field trip to a doctor's without her having a test first - I don't know, it doesn't sound like a great situation to me!

Good luck and keep us posted.
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#10 of 17 Old 07-20-2004, 05:38 PM
 
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My dd has had to have a lot of bloodwork done over the past several months. She is a little over 2. I think trying to prepare her in advance would do NO good. The stick in the arm is going to hurt, and there is nothing you can do to prepare her for that. Maybe if she were a couple of years older.

My dd knows when they are getting ready to stick her, and starts screaming and thrashing around. I just hold her other arm down and hold her tight and talk to her. I don't know if that is traumatic or not, I sure hope not, but the blood tests are absolutely necessary.. what else can I do? I think it would be worse to leave the room and leave her with other people to hold her down.

Mel
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#11 of 17 Old 07-21-2004, 12:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you all for the replies.

The last time she got her blood drawn "YES" she became really traumatized. She couldn't see anyone dress in a white gown because she thaught that they would poke her with a needle.

But we have gone a long way. All through my pregnancy with dd2 I had her acompany me to all of my doctor visits and she always sits our my lap every time I or dh have my blood taken. We actually did our own little servey and had our blood taken by several different technicians until we finally found a sweet lady with magic fingers (i didn't feel a thing, nothing... i didn't even know she had taken my blood until i saw her opening the band-aid) Anyway... By the time dd2 was born she (dd1) had become about 90% not afraid of doctors. And when we took the baby for a well baby visit, she(dd1) asked the nurse to check a scratch on her finger (she sort of felt left out).

She also likes to play doctor and she draws everyones blood, even her teddy bear's and we take her's. It has been about a year since she last had her blood tested and I just thought that it might be a good idea to see how she is doing. She has very little appetite, especially since dd2 was born. She rather nurse all day long (like a newborn) than take a bite of food. And she developed circles under her eyes soon after her sister was born and I'm afraid it might have something to do with nutrition.

I might wait a little longer for the blood testing... if everything else seems fine. But I want to have her prepared for when the time comes (whenever).

A lady at the supermarket told me to apply some baby oragel (teething gel) to numb her skin. Has anyone ever tried this?
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#12 of 17 Old 07-21-2004, 06:17 AM
 
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Hi I had two major open heart surgeries before age four so as you can guess I was used to needles at a very young age. Here is my advice 1) Tell it like it is, yes it might hurt and it's okay to cry (even scream) you be there to help hold her hand or arm ect. Make sure the person drawing blood knows what the heck they are doing. My mother talks about a time when I was two a dingbat nurse couldn't get blood from me complaining I was "moving" I wasn't and I was TWO! what the heck was she expecting. teach her some pain copping skills such as blowing out as needle is inserted, or squeezing your hand hard (assumming she can't really hurt her) Give her extra love and attention after. itss perfectly fine to take her for a treat after no matter what her reaction was and do it to celebrate to test being over. Do not say Oh you were so brave not crying or did that mean doctor make you sad? here have some ice cream. Say well the test is over so lets celebrate.

Deanna
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#13 of 17 Old 07-21-2004, 08:45 AM
 
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I just can't express how important I think talking about it is... explain away. What it is like, what it feels like, what it looks like, WHY they are doing it, and how it will help.

My DD hasn't ever been poked routinely... so I don't know if they really would? But she got into my prenatals when I was pregnant and I had to have her blood tested. She did so well, I put away my fear of needles (i'm terrified of them) and held her and explained what the nurse was going to do. I let her look at the materials about to be used first, and they gave her a strap thing to hold and investigate. i just told the nurse "I know we ahve to do this- but it is important to me that we verbally explain and give her time to explore and consider it" Then after showing her all of it, and telling ehr she can 'watch right here" to see the blood fill up the vile" I helped her stretch out her arm and she watched with fascination and didn't even cry. The nurses were astounded (previously of the- "you gotta hold 'em down" camp) and remarked on how shocked they were that all that explaining and talking and exploring actually helped. She was only 19/20 months at the time. This was her first and last shot.

Nutritionally, doesn't a finger prick work just as well and cause less pain? That is what wic uses and I remember getting finger prick tested as a child at routine check ups.
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#14 of 17 Old 07-21-2004, 03:25 PM
 
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Dd recently had to have an IV and blood drawn (two separate occasions). I talked with her about what would happen in a matter of fact way a few times before they were done. Also, dh is a diabetic, so she had a point of reference, which helped. If I hadn't been able to use her dad as an example, I would have tried to find a children's book which factually represented a doctor visit where a needle is used. My Dd didn't care for the experiences, mostly because of the stranger element- she actually cried out only for a second during the blood draw, but then became frantic when the nurse tried to put a little band-aid on her. If we have to do it ever again, I think I will let her choose a band-aid from home to bring. Also, I always hold her- I would never allow someone other than dh or myself to hold her during a procedure, because I feel that she would be even more terrified to see Mommy or Daddy standing by letting someone else, "hurt" her, ykwim?
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#15 of 17 Old 07-21-2004, 03:30 PM
 
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Quote:
EMLA that will numb the skin
I was told by a few phlebotomists that EMLA cream causes the veins to pull away from the surface of the skin, making it hard to get a vein, and more likely the phlebotomist will need to "probe".

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.  ~Albert Einstein
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#16 of 17 Old 07-21-2004, 10:03 PM
 
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I noticed this and although I haven't BTDT w/ child...I had such a traumatic needle experience that it has been until the last few years that I haven't passed out completely each time...but then I found some REALLY good who gave me some tips..check with a pediatrician or nurse about whether or not they're okay for kids but here they are:

Warm makes veins come to the top--rubbing, wearing long sleeves/gloves, warm water all help

Visualizing and talking about something else--for me it's where I'd like to travel...for a toddler how about going to the park or their favorite toy??

Unless it is a fasting test having something sugary and a glass of water about 20 minutes ahead of time will help prevent that woozie feeling

Crying makes veins constrict which makes it more difficult

Ask for the best person on staff...I have only had 1 person ever be offended by this...I usually say something like "This is really difficult for me and I have small, rolly veins, can you make sure the best blood taker works on me because I only want to be poked 1 time."

Best of luck. Hope that helps...

Cool Breezes,

Jenne

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#17 of 17 Old 07-22-2004, 11:21 AM
 
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I have been reading this thread with interest for the last few days.

I had to take my 21 month old DS in for a blood test (Lyme disease) and was worried about how he would react.
I did call the lab first and asked when would be the best time to bring him in, and to my surprise there *was* a time that was better because of the staff that would be on-hand. The woman told me that at such and such a time, all the staff who had experience with little children and also have their own would be in.
We did go in then, and there were 3 wonderful staff members who helped DS get through it. He sat on DHs lap for the procedure.
After he got his Scooby-Do band-aid, it was like it never happened!

Kristina; wife to Max, Mom to Tristan (17) and Zackariah (7) and Lillian (5)
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