Recognizing and Managing Pain in Your Toddler

How do I recognize pain in my toddler?

Toddlers may display different behaviors when they are in pain or uncomfortable. Your child may:

  • Lose interest in play
  • Not eat or drink as much as usual
  • Have difficulty sleeping or napping
  • Cry more than usual
  • Want to be still or quiet
  • Be irritable and restless
  • Use words such as “Ouchie,” “Boo-boo,” “It hurts.”

How do I help my toddler manage pain?

Create a comfortable and safe environment

  • Give your child 5-10 minutes to help prepare him/her that you are leaving.
  • Stay with your child as much as possible. If you leave, let him/her know that you will return.
  • If you leave, let your nurse know what may calm your child.
  • Dim the lights in the room where your child is resting.
  • Provide quiet time for your toddler.
  • Allow your toddler time for undisturbed sleep.
  • Play soft music for your toddler.
  • Speak softly to your toddler.
  • Bring your toddler's favorite toys and objects from home.

Use touch to provide comfort and security

  • Hold and cuddle your toddler.
  • Rock your toddler in a rocking chair.
  • Touch or gently massage your toddler.
  • Hold your toddler's hand.

Use distraction to help your toddler focus on something other than pain

Encourage your child to:

  • Tell or read stories such as pop-up or sound books.
  • Blow bubbles.
  • Hold a blanket or stuffed animal.
  • Listen to music.
  • Sing songs.
  • Play with a toy or color pictures
  • Have your child turn the page while you are reading to her.
  • Watch TV or movies.

If you have any questions, please ask your child’s doctor, nurse, or child life specialist.

Contact us

For more information about the Pain Management Program at CHOP or to schedule an appointment, please call 215-590-1409.

Reviewed by: the Pain Managment Program team
Date: August 2012

Review Date: August 2012