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Baby immunizations—a parent’s guide

Immunization time—gulp! Your baby’s first injections can be upsetting parents and babies. If you are anxious, your baby may pick up on your feelings so try to stay calm. Read our helpful guide on what to expect

3 mins to read Sep 17, 2020
  • Ask your baby’s doctor to provide a copy of the current routine immunization schedule for infants and children in your province.
  • In the first 2 years, your baby will be given vaccinations against the most common infectious diseases, including: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), polio virus, Hemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), rotavirus, pneumococcus, meningococcus, measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox.
  • It is recommended that all babies over 6 months get a flu shot each year. Babies who have never received a flu shot will need 2 doses, 4 weeks apart. After that, they only need one dose per year.
  • Your doctor will give you a “personal immunization record” for your baby. Keep the record in a safe place and bring it to each of your baby’s appointment so that it can be updated by your doctor.
  • An up-to-date vaccine record is important! It may be required for your child to attend school or child care centres and as adults it is required for certain professions.
  • Dress your baby in clothes that are easy to remove and put back on, or in a onesie that provides quick access to their arms or legs.
  • Leave plenty of time to get to the clinic—you don’t want to be rushed or stressed.
  • If possible, it may help to avoid appointments at times of day when your baby will be tired or hungry.
  • Call your doctor’s clinic ahead of time if your baby has been unwell with fever, vomiting or diarrhea, or a cold. Your doctor may delay the vaccination until they are well.
  • Take a list of any questions you have to the appointment. This will help you to remember what you wanted to discuss with your doctor or the nurse.
  • Ask your doctor or the nurse how they would prefer you to hold your baby during the vaccination.
  • Most vaccinations are delivered via an injection given with a small needle—your baby will probably cry straight away so a breastfeed or a bottle can provide comfort, or try distracting them with a small toy.
  • Using distractions (like blowing bubbles or reading a book) and keeping calm yourself while cuddling your baby can help to minimize the pain.
  • Like other medications, vaccines can occasionally cause side effects—these are likely to be mild and can include a slight fever, and some swelling and redness around the site of the injection. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about any symptoms or if your baby has previously had side effects following a vaccination.
  • Your baby may have more than one injection at each appointment depending on the immunization schedule.
  • The doctor or nurses generally work well together to ensure the injections are given as quickly and painlessly as possible.
  • You will be asked to stay at the clinic for at least 10 minutes after the immunizations just to make sure baby is fine and hasn’t had any major side effects.
  • Ask your doctor what you should do if your if your baby develops any common side effects to a vaccination, such as a fever.
  • Some babies may feel unwell after vaccinations and will need soothing at night. Try to ensure you have nothing planned for the rest of the day to give extra attention and cuddles.

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