By: Sue Carrington |

Quick read:

It’s important to explain to your child what an IV is and why they’re getting one before a procedure takes place. It can be helpful to give a step-by-step overview of what will happen, including what the doctor/nurse will be doing and what your child should do as well.

Full story:

If your child needs an IV, the experience can be stressful for you both. One of the best ways to support your child is to prepare them for the experience ahead of time to lessen their anxiety. These talking points can help your child feel more comfortable with the IV process.

“What’s an IV?”

An IV is a tiny tube that goes into one of your veins. Your veins are like roads. They carry blood all over your body. An IV will help your blood carry water or medicine to where your body needs it. The water or medicine drips into the tiny tube from a bag that’s hooked up to a longer tube.

“Why do I need an IV?”

Getting an IV is the quickest way for your doctor or nurse to get fluids or medicine into your body, so you start to feel better.

“What happens when I get an IV?”

Here’s what your doctor or nurse will do to get you ready for your IV:

  1. Look at your hand or arm to find a vein to put the tube into. Sometimes they can put your IV in a different place, but your hand or arm is the most common.
  2. Put a band around your arm above your elbow or just above your hand to help see your veins. This might feel really tight,  but once the medicine tube is in your vein, the doctor or nurse will take off the band.
  3. Clean the spot where the IV will go in with a special wipe.
  4. Slide the tube into the vein. You may feel a prick when the doctor or nurse pushes the tube in. The tube will have a little tip that helps it go in, but once it’s in, the tip will come out. Only the tube stays in your vein to deliver your medicine.
  5. Put some tape around the IV to help it stay in place.
  6. Be close by to make sure you’re okay

“Will it hurt?”

You may feel a prick or sting when your IV line goes in and when it comes out, but the sting will go away quickly. It’ll leave a little red mark on your skin where the tube went into the vein. A Band-Aid will cover up the red spot while it gets better.

What do I need to do?

You need to hold your hand or arm still while your IV is placed, but once it’s in you can watch a movie or read a book just like you would be able to do without an IV.

Additional guidelines for parents:

If you’ll be coming from home, at the doctor’s direction, have your child drink lots of water the night before the IV. Being hydrated makes it easier to see the veins. Also, dress your child warmly. When the body is warm, the veins are easier to find.

While your child is receiving the IV, be present and encouraging. Hold their hand. Distract them by talking about something other than the IV. Offer praise for keeping their hand or arm still – and for being open to a new experience.


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