Photo by dmason
We have a lot of experience with doctor visits, so here are some tips that we’ve learned the hard way. My present to you.
Try to schedule first thing in the morning. The doctor will (hopefully) still be on schedule, you’ll have shorter waiting times, and there will (usually) be fewer people in the waiting room sneezing and coughing all over you.
- Dress your child in clothes that are easy to remove. Nuff said.
- Bring another adult whenever possible. I know – hard to do. If my husband can’t come, I sometimes call up my sister or aunt who live close by. It’s a lot easier to listen to the doctor and ask questions when there’s someone else there to help with your child.
- Bring a favorite blanket. Ask to lay it down on that cold scale they insist on laying a naked baby on. They can weigh the blanket first and subtract its weight from your baby’s. It’s also handy for covering the crinkly paper on the exam table, snuggling with, and for covering them up while you’re waiting for the doc.
- Bring a change of clothes for child AND YOU. You can leave them in the car, but nobody wants to drive home wearing surprise vomit.
- Bring something to catch said “surprise vomit.” We always carry two extra cloth diapers and a plastic bag, which wads up nicely in a corner of the diaper bag.
- Bring crayons for coloring on exam table paper. This is the one thing that helped Jenna to not be afraid of getting on the crinkly sounding/feeling paper.
- Take a favorite stuffed animal or doll. Have the nurse and/or doctor do “scary” procedures on special buddy first.
- Ask for Sweet-Ease before shots or blood work. Or you could bring your own in a medicine syringe. This is simply sugar water, but we learned the trick from NICU nurses. It calms and soothes due to an endorphin release. Drug-free soothing. Sweet (ha!)
- Ask to hold child for procedures. Jenna does a lot better with staying calm when she sits on my lap facing outward with my arms around her. This works great for BP, blood work, shots, checking ears/nose/throat – - just about anything.
- Buy a toy doctor kit and “practice” at home beforehand. This has worked wonders for us. Try the Parents Little MD in carrying case ($20) available at Target or Usborne’s “Going to the Doctor” kid kit available here (currently out-of-stock, but will be back soon), which comes with a book ($16). We used the Usborne kit and book.
- Ask for skin anesthetic to numb skin before IVs or blood work. This is simply a lotion or gel that’s applied to the skin to numb it. We didn’t even know this was an option until they just DID it in the ER for us. Maybe not a necessity for everyone (maybe not always available?), but any pokes have been super-traumatic for Jenna and have almost always led to vomiting. We’re up for anything to avoid that scenario. ** UPDATE ** From Dr. Sears: Apparently this cream is available over-the-counter, but is somewhat expensive. He recommends that, if you buy it, you wait to apply it until at the doctor’s office so the nurse can show you where to put it (or you’ll be numbing the wrong spot). He says he’s not sure it’s worth the cost and trouble and suggests simply firmly rubbing the injection site for a few minutes before the injection. He also says that breastfeeding during shots or bloodwork has been shown to decrease discomfort in babies!!
Let me know the tips and tricks you use in the comments!