I had to bring my one year old in for his routine blood work today. I prepared my four-year old for what to expect at the lab and the blood draw for his little brother. As a child life specialist, I had my personal coping kit packed with bubbles, books and a pacifier. The baby had a nap and a full belly, so he was ready to go.
In the waiting area, I pulled out the bubbles so the deep breathing and distraction could begin. My four year old began to blow the bubbles and the baby tried to pop them. He was also trying to imitate and blow air out of his mouth. This was great deep breathing for a one year old!
When it was his turn, I sat him on my lap facing outwards in a comfort hold. My four-year old had a specific square tile that he stood on while he blew the bubbles slowly and up towards the ceiling. When the nurse put the tourniquet on the tears began to flow. I was okay with the crying and instead of talking loudly to try to distract and hurry the process, I kept a very quiet voice in his ear, singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star while slipping the pacifier in his mouth.
My four-year old was amazing. He blew the bubbles and after a minute came a little closer to touch his brother’s feet and tell him that it was almost over. It was very sweet. Before we knew it, four tubes of blood were taken and some gauze and tape were placed on his little arm. He stopped crying immediately and even waved goodbye.
I was so proud of both my boys. I know that many parents have anxiety of their children getting blood work done. It helps to prepare them through medical play before, bring some coping and distracting toys and stay calm during the procedure. Post medical play is also very helpful when you get home. They will continue to process what they experienced and help give them some mastery over it.