Age Groups and Vaccines: Birth to 2 years

  • Preparing for vaccines

    While it is difficult to watch your child receive shots, certain things can be done to make the experience easier. First, remember that you are protecting your child from a disease or diseases that would be much more painful and longer lasting than a shot. Second, by being prepared for the visit, you will be more comfortable and relaxed; your child will detect this.

    To prepare yourself

    • Bring your child's immunization record to the visit with you.
    • Be sure to ask questions before the office staff comes in with the vaccine. Usually, vaccines are given after a physical examination and discussion with the parents.
    • Read the Vaccine Information Sheets and any other materials that the office staff provides to you.

    To prepare your infant or toddler

    • Bring along a favorite toy or blanket.
    • Talk reassuringly to your child. Also, make eye contact with, smile at, and cuddle your child leading up to and immediately following the immunizations.
    • Check with your child's doctor about giving the child a non-aspirin pain reliever.

    In addition, for toddlers:

    • Be honest with your child, explaining that it may hurt a bit, but it will not hurt for long. And the vaccine will keep him healthy.
    • Reassure your child that it is alright to cry if it hurts and that it will be over quickly.
    • Engage your child in a conversation or storybook.
    • If your child is old enough to understand, have the office staff rub an alcohol pad on the back of her hand or arm immediately before giving the shot. Right when the shot is ready to be given, have your child blow on the alcohol-swabbed spot. The action of blowing on the alcohol will produce a feeling of cold that will lessen the sensation of pain.

    Remember, taking your children to get vaccines is an act of love. You are protecting them from something much worse than the pain of the shot.

  • After the vaccines

    When you get home, try to comfort your child and realize that she may be more tired or cranky than usual. She may want to be held more and may be sore in the arm or leg where the shot was given. You can give your child a pain reliever as directed by her doctor. If the area where the shot was given is red, tender or swollen, you can use a cool wet cloth on the area. You can also give your child a lukewarm sponge bath if she has a fever. Give your child plenty of fluids and be aware that she may be less interested in food over the next 24 hours.

    Watch your child for signs of a reaction from the vaccine including a rash, prolonged fever, or unusual behaviors. If you have any reason for concern, call your child’s doctor who can tell you what to expect and what to do.

    While most side effects are minor, if your child has a severe reaction, you or your child's doctor can file a report to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System or VAERS.

  • Other Resources

Reviewed by Paul A. Offit, MD on November 06, 2014

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.