Top Tips for No-Tears Blood Tests

Blood draws are a necessary part of staying healthy for babies, kids, and adults alike, but that needle can be awful frightening! Below, check out advice from members on making the experience as smooth as possible.

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On scheduling:

-Call ahead to find out when the lab tech who is trained in pediatric blood draws will be on site.

-If possible, go first thing in the morning so you can have them drink lots of fluids after they wake up.


Leading up to your appointment:

-If you can, take your child to one of your blood draws and be a good role model.

-Practice by playing "take the blood" on dolls or on each other. As one member says: "Doing the rehearsing at home really helps!"

-Do lots of mental prep leading up to the visit! “There’s a Daniel Tiger episode about getting a shot that’s super helpful and talks about what to do if you feel scared. I recommend watching it and then practicing with a comfort object/stuffed animal a bunch of times. Then bring said stuffed animal/doll with you to the appointment. It can be helpful for managing fear and also, the animal/doll can get a shot first and model being brave. We talked a lot about what you can do if you feel scared and that being brave means you sometimes have to feel scared first.”


Day of the appointment:

-If you drink water beforehand (lots) it makes the vein easier to find.

-Choose clothes that make it easy to expose an arm. One parent says, “Not so easy in the winter, but cardigan style sweaters work for us better than over the head sweaters.”


During the appointment:

-Use cream (e.g., EMLA, Lidocaine, or Amethocaine) in order to make blood draws less painful. It's numbing cream, which needs to be applied 45 mins beforehand and covered to keep the cream in place. Put it on BOTH arms (in case one arm doesn't work).

-For some kids, the tourniquet might be more uncomfortable than the actual prick, so prepare for that. You can practice putting gentle pressure on their arm in the days leading up to the appointment so they’re not caught off guard when it happens.

-Distract if possible.

-Show a video, show stickers they'll get when it's all done, anything that they have to stay still for but keeps their mind off the procedure.

-If you can hold them in your lap during the prick, that’s a big comfort. One parent reports: “I've found that holding my her in my lap, with one of her arms in a tight hug, and sometimes even her legs caught between my legs, is the most secure and most comforting way for us to go about it. And the most successful, too.” This also helps them stay still, which allows the whole process to go much easier.

-A calm parent equals a calmer child. If you are tense, they will be more tense.

-If you speak in a comforting voice (to your child and the technician as well), they will be less likely to get freaked out.

-Ask for an easy-to-remove bandage. As one parent says, “we ask that they don't put a band aid afterwards, but instead use that colorful sticky- meshy material. Taking off the bandaid can be another whole ordeal!”


Managing fear:

-Sometimes the fear is worse than the experience.

-Frame it as "a part of life to stay healthy." Don’t make it into a drama.

-They might be scared and freaked out the whole time, but it only lasts a minute—and there are stickers after!