Infants Calm Faster With The Five S’s After Vaccinations
Taking your infant to the doctor’s office for vaccinations and tests can be a harrowing experience for the parent and the child. However, there are ways to ease the shock of the needle, at least for the child.
Experts are recommending that the “5 S’s” be used on the frightened child immediately afterwards. A study published this week in the journal Pediatrics finds that swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging and sucking, go a long way towards easing the pain, reports Rita Rubin for MSNBC.com.
Pediatrician John Harrington of Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Va., who led the study says, “Some parents might be a little skittish giving their babies vaccines knowing it’s not painless.” But that should not prevent parents from getting these important shots. “They can do something to reduce the pain and soothe their child.”
The 5 S’s grew out of the realization that babies are born with a calming reflex, says Harvey Karp, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the USC School of Medicine, and author of the book and DVD, The Happiest Baby on the Block.
By replicating the womb environment — “a symphony of sensations, noise, jiggly movements and touching” — caregivers can quickly put babies in the calm zone, he told Rubin.
“Parents do many of these things intuitively, but they may not be doing them correctly,” Karp says. “You have to do them (5 S’s) exactly right, or they don’t work.” For example, he says, the swaddling must be tight, and the shushing has to be pretty loud (think about how a vacuum cleaner can calm a crying baby).
“There’s been 30 to 40 years of research showing the individual S’s work, but what was missing was the recognition that babies are born with a reflexive-off switch for crying and an on-switch for sleeping.”
The study enrolled 230 2-month-old and 4-month-old babies and randomly divided them into four groups: After their shots, they either got the 5 S’s or their parent’s standard comforting care, and they received plain water or sugar water, reports Claire Bates for Daily Mail.
The infants were given three shots in alternating thighs and were then swaddled in under 15 seconds and provided at least three of the other 5 S’s within 30 seconds of the shots (some of the babies calmed down before sucking on a pacifier, the 5th S, or were unaccustomed to using one).
The babies’ pain was rated by the residents, based on how hard they were crying and their facial expressions, immediately after the third shot and continued for two to five minutes.
The 5 S’s calmed the babies significantly better than the parents’ efforts, whether or not sugar was added to the mix, writes Medical News Today.
Harrington’s team might have seen the 5 S’s calm the babies even more quickly if they’d swaddled all but one leg before administering the shots, Karp says.
“I think the nice thing that came out of this is when we did the 5 S’s after the shots, the parents wanted to learn,” Harrington says. Unfortunately, as many parents might have noticed, the calming reflex goes away after about three months, Karp says, and Harrington found the 5 S’s didn’t work as well with 4-month-olds as with 2-month-olds.