Surviving Baby’s First Shots
When I left the hospital with my son, I had a stack of pamphlets, handouts, and guides covering everything from registering his birth to how to get him to latch properly. Even after devouring parenting book after parenting book for nine straight months, as a first-time mom, there is a lot—a lot—of information that comes along with a new baby.
Keeping my tiny bundle of joy happy, healthy, and safe was—and still is—my number one priority. For me, that included ensuring that he got his immunizations. But when you are inundated with so many appointments and so much information, it can be hard to remember when everything needs to happen.
When do you get baby’s first shots?
Every province has a slightly different immunization schedule, meaning your child will receive different shots at slightly different times depending on where you live. During the first two years of your child’s life, you can expect a routine immunization schedule to include shots during five check-ups with your pediatrician or family doctor.
In Ontario, the routine immunization schedule from 0-24 months includes the following shots:
- 2 months – diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, haemophilus influenza type b (DTaP-IPV-Hib), pneumococcal conjugate, rotavirus
- 4 months – DTaP-IPV-Hib, pneumococcal conjugate, rotavirus
- 6 months – DTaP-IPV-Hib, rotavirus
- 12 months – pneumococcal conjugate, meningococcal conjugate (Men-C-C), measles, mumps and rubella
- 15 months – chickenpox (varicella)
- 18 months – DTaP-IPV-Hib
To see when your child will receive their immunizations, visit the Government of Canada’s Provincial Vaccination Routine Schedule for a breakdown of each province’s schedule.
Taking the sting out of baby’s first shots
As a parent, it is difficult to see your child in any kind of pain. Even when you know that it’s in their best interest, it still hurts to see them hurt. So, when it came time for my baby’s first shots, I wanted to do everything to make sure that it was as easy an experience as it could be.
At just two months old, I was facing his first set of vaccinations. And while the rotavirus vaccine is given orally, the DTaP-IPV-Hib and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines are given as shots. Yes, that’s plural. The vaccines are given as two separate shots.
Thankfully there are things you can do to reduce the pain and help to soothe baby. A study conducted by John Harrington, MD, in 2012, found that the 5 S’s can help reduce the pain babies feel as well as crying times during immunizations.
The 5 S’s—side/stomach position, shushing, swinging, swaddling, and sucking—help distract and soothe your baby. How does it work? Hold your baby on their side or stomach for the administration of the shots. Afterwards, quickly swaddle your baby in a blanket and swing them while you make a shushing noise. You can also place a pacifier in their mouth to allow them to suck and self-soothe.
Another way to soothe them is to feed them while they receive their vaccinations because of the calming effects of breastfeeding. If you don’t breastfeed, not to worry. The acting of sucking is calming for baby, meaning giving a bottle during baby’s first shots will also help to calm them down.
Common reactions after baby’s first shots:
It is normal for your child to experience one or more of these mild and temporary reactions for 1 to 2 days after receiving their vaccinations. These are common reactions and can usually be treated at home, without an additional visit to the doctor.
Vaccinations can cause your little one to run a low-grade fever. With Advil Pediatric Drops it’s easy to manage your child’s fever. Advil Pediatric Drops are clinically proven to provide your baby with up to 8 hours of fever relief. If your baby is under four months old, you will need to consult your doctor before giving your baby any kind of fever medication and should always wait at least 6 hours after a vaccination to give your child fever medication, to avoid interfering with the effectiveness of the vaccine. If the fever is higher than 102°F or it lasts more than two days, you should consult your doctor.
With the MMR-Var vaccine, a mild skin rash may present. The rash may last for several days and will go away without treatment. It is recommended that if a chickenpox-like rash occurs, you should keep clothing over the rash and stay away from newborn babies, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems.
Swelling or soreness
If your baby experiences swelling or soreness of the injection area, start by putting a cool cloth on the area. If your baby continues to be fussy and seems to be in pain, Advil Pediatric Drops can offer fever relief for up to 8 hours.
Loss of appetite
After a round of vaccinations, if your little one doesn’t seem as interested in eating or they are more drowsy than usual, don’t worry. A common side effect is loss of appetite and sleepiness. Try to relax with your baby after their vaccines—plan a day at home filled with cuddles and quiet time.
If any symptoms persist for more than three days, you should see your family doctor or pediatrician.
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