Recognizing and Managing Pain in Your Infant

How do I recognize pain in my infant?

Infants may display different behaviors when they are irritable or uncomfortable. These may include:

  • High pitched crying
  • Difficulty calming
  • Facial grimacing
  • Restless sleeping or napping
  • Fast breathing
  • Chin quivering
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Difficulty with feeding or taking a pacifier
  • Unusually still or quiet

How do I help my infant manage pain?

Create a comfortable and safe environment

  • Rock your infant in rocker, swing or lap.
  • Provide quiet time for your infant.
  • Dim the lights where your infant is resting.
  • Allow your infant time for undisturbed sleep.
  • Cuddle your infant and make eye contact.
  • Change your infant's wet diaper and provide dry, clean clothing when needed.

Use touch to provide comfort

  • Change your infant’s position.
  • Swaddle your infant in a blanket.
  • Massage your infant’s back in a firm, slow motion.
  • Hold your infant’s hand.
  • Some infants prefer less eye contact, talking and noise. Notice what makes your baby happy.

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

  • Play soft music for your infant.
  • Feed your infant as permitted by the healthcare team.
  • Talk or sing to your infant in a soothing voice.

If you have any questions, please ask your infant’s doctor or nurse.

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 Management Program team
Date: August 2012

August 2012