Bloodwork can be a stressful experience for many children (and even adults). Here are a few simple steps that may make your child feel more at ease before and during a blood draw.
1. Explain What Will Happen
Let your child know why the bloodwork will be taken and how it will be done. Be sure to use age-appropriate language and assure your child you will be with them the whole time. For example, when explaining how it’s done, you might describe a tourniquet as a “tight squeeze” and cleaning as “cold and wet.”
2 . Be Honest & Reassuring
Don’t tell your child the bloodwork won’t hurt; it may actually be painful. Instead, say that the test may feel like a pinch or a poke, but the pain will go away quickly.
3. Schedule Wisely
Consider scheduling your child’s test at a time when he or she is less tired or hungry. Eating beforehand will lessen the chance of lightheadedness, but if your child needs a test that requires fasting (not eating or drinking), it’s best to schedule the test for first thing in the morning. You should also bring a snack for afterward.
4. Breathing Exercises
Talking about feelings or practicing calming techniques before the appointment may help. Make a game of staying still, practice deep breathing, thinking happy thoughts and counting slowly from one to ten.
5. Offer Plenty Of Water
Drinking plenty of water is important because it hydrates veins, which can help make a blood draw easier. Unless specially instructed by his or her doctor, encourage your child to drink water the day before and the morning of the blood draw.
6. Offer a Distraction
Bring along a favorite toy, stuffed animal, game, or book to help distract your child before and during the test.
7. Offer Comfort
Encourage your child to look at you during a blood test rather than the person drawing blood. Hold your child’s hand during the test or provide other physical contact if the provider says it’s ok. If your baby needs a test, comfort him or her with gentle physical contact and a calm voice.
8. Plan A Reward
Offer your child a treat or make a plan to do something fun together after the bloodwork. Thinking about a reward may help distract your child and encourage cooperation during the procedure.