By: Heather Michon |

Quick read:

While your child’s medical team will keep an eye on their IV for signs of complications, parents can take a more active role and be their child’s IV advocate by knowing the symptoms to look for. If you notice signs of puffiness, tenderness or blanching, you should alert your child’s doctor or nurse right away.

Full story:

Nurses and infusion specialists will monitor your child closely during their hospital stay or procedure that involves an intravenous line, but that doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t take an active role in monitoring their child’s IV.

Here are three primary things to look out for when your child has an IV:

IV Red Flag 1: Puffiness

Is the area around the catheter starting to look puffy or swollen? This can be a sign that fluids are leaking into the surrounding tissue. Any puffiness or swelling at the insertion point or the limb is a definite IV red flag.

IV Red Flag 2: Tenderness

It’s not uncommon for children to be a little uncomfortable when they have an IV placed, but it’s time to call a nurse if the area of tenderness and soreness:

  • Increases or spreads
  • The skin around the IV looks taunt or red
  • The skin around the IV feels itchy or like it’s throbbing

IV Red Flag 3: Blanching

Just like redness can be a sign of trouble, so can blanching (becoming white or pale). It can be a sign the blood flow has become obstructed. Similarly, if you notice the skin around their IV feels cool or clammy, alert their medical care team.

While you don’t need to stare at your child’s IV line throughout the entire treatment, be sure to look periodically and note if there are any changes in its appearance. If you see any of these key signs of infiltration, have someone come and take a look at it as quickly as possible.

A good way to check is by comparing it to the other extremity that does not have an IV in it. For example, comparing their hands or arms side-by-side will help determine if there is puffiness or blanching.

For tips on how to discuss more IV warning signs with your medical team, download How to Talk to Your Health Professional About Your IV.

Check out our other resources for parents including:




Straight Talk About Nursing –

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