Harvey Karp wrote a book several years ago called “The Happiest Baby on the Block.” It was well received by parents and pediatricians alike and many of the strategies he forwards in the book help soothe cranky infants. Up until now though, these strategies have not been formally assessed as a strategy for helping infants recover following vaccination.
In the May issue of the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that infants who were swaddled, swung, shushed, side lying, and sucking (the 5 S’s of Dr. Karp’s book) cried less than infants on whom other calming strategies were used. Even if mothers couldn’t breastfeed or bottle feed during the administration of the vaccines, these strategies worked better than traditional strategies or sugar water at reducing infant pain response when getting shots.
Parents are often concerned about the pain associated with vaccination and are eager to give Tylenol to minimize pain. Giving Tylenol near the time of vaccination actually diminishes immune response, so finding other strategies to relieve discomfort is important. If an infant though is very fussy or feverish several hours after vaccination, Tylenol may be needed to help comfort if other strategies aren’t enough.
It seems now that a coordinated approach of swaddling, shushing, and gently swinging a side lying baby who is breastfeeding may be just what the doctor ordered at the time of vaccination and will reduce pain and stress for parent and child alike!