By Sue Carrington |
Medical procedures are rarely easy. For children, they can be even more challenging since they can’t always communicate that something feels wrong. Your guidance as a parent can make all the difference when your child receives an IV. Here are seven tips to make the experience easier for your child:
- Prepare. Start by using our guide to help your child understand the IV insertion before it happens. Use age-appropriate language to describe each step and talk about what will happen when they receive an IV. Try demonstrating the procedure with a doll or a stuffed animal.
- Be present. Your presence throughout the IV insertion may help your child feel safer and reduce their fear or pain. Holding your child’s hand can also help relieve some of their anxiety. If you can’t be there, talk with the care team to plan the best ways to help your child cope.
- Tell the truth. Explain that the IV may sting or pinch for a short time, but the pain will go away. For example, “It may hurt, but I’ll be here for you. The pain will only last a little while.”
- Position them for comfort. Sitting up can give your child a sense of control and may help them feel more relaxed since they can see what’s going on. Some children like their parents to hold them during the procedure, so a young child may feel best sitting on your lap.
- Provide distractions. Using distractions during IV insertion is important because it takes several minutes for the nurse to find the vein, thread the catheter, and get the tubing in place. Bring your child their favorite toy or blanket to hold while they wait. Read a story. Blow bubbles. Sing a favorite song together. Listen to music. Watch a movie. Help your child imagine they are in their favorite place. Do whatever has worked before to help your child stay calm.
- Keep an eye on the IV site. It’s the care team’s duty to ensure the safe monitoring and management of your child’s IV line, but it’s also important for you to be your child’s IV advocate. You can do things like:
- Make sure your child doesn’t pull on the IV line when getting up
- Look at the IV site to make sure it remains visible and dry
- If you notice any redness or swelling, or your child seems in pain, call the nurse right away
- Praise and reward. Praise your child for a job well done. Acknowledge your child’s successes, like holding their arm still. Provide rewards at the end of the procedure, such as stickers or a favorite treat on the way home.
IV lines are an essential part of your child’s care. Your involvement – and attentiveness in providing comfort to your child throughout the process – can be the key to creating a positive experience.
Check out our other resources for parents including:
- What Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Child’s IV
- The Causes of IV Infiltration and Extravasation Explained
- IVs and Pregnancy: Can it Harm My Baby?