Too many crying babies: the secret to a calm and peaceful vaccination

This is a Guest Post from Denise Harrison (RN, PhD), the Chair in Nursing Care of Children, Youth and Families at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute & University of Ottawa.  Denise is also a co-investigator with the CIHR Team in Children's Pain.  For more information about Denise's work in children's pain, click here. For more information about children's pain check out the CIHR Team in Children's Pain website  or go to the CAPHC Knowledge Exchange Network section on Children's Pain to view past webinars and other information.  


We at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Canada need your help to do something very simple – help make immunizations less painful for babies.  And we are also hoping to enlist your help in something more complex – studying using social media for knowledge translation tools for health education.  

Here’s how. 

Everyone knows that immunizations are painful for babies and also distressing for parents. However, there are simple and effective ways to reduce pain during immunizations -- as well as your own stress from seeing your baby crying in pain. 

The Be Sweet to Babies team has developed a YouTube video showing what how to reduce tears when needles are given, including:

  • Breastfeeding babies
  • Giving babies sugar water (sucrose) just before the needle
  • Holding babies and young children upright in a secure front-to-front position 

While breastfeeding and sugar water work best for babies, upright front-front holding and distraction work for young children as well. 

Research shows these techniques work, yet they are rarely used by health care providers and parents. 

Many parents use the internet to look up health information, especially sites like YouTube. Unfortunately, many of the infant immunization videos currently posted on YouTube show babies in pain and distress, with very little use of effective pain management strategies. Our video shows parents that breastfeeding and sugar water effectively reduce pain during their baby’s immunizations. 

But our video needs to be seen in order to change how babies are being immunized and ultimately reduce their pain.  And we are asking for your help to spread the word. 

By sharing this video, we hope to reach a wide audience of parents and health professionals and give parents the information they need to advocate for the use of breastfeeding and sugar water as pain management strategies.   

And by studying the results of this project, we hope to learn more about health education strategies that may be helpful to families and patients.  What we learn from this project may help instruct how other health information is shared with the public in the future. 

So, please join our research team – We ask that you share this video with your team, parent groups, students, fellow clinicians and researchers, post the link on your websites and share via social media (#bsweet2baby).  

We appreciate your support in our efforts to help children and families to be their healthiest.



For more information about children's pain check out the CIHR Team in Children's Pain website or go to the CAPHC Knowledge Exchange Network to view past webinars and other information.

Ann WatkinsComment