Make Pediatrician Appointments Easier – Tips & Tricks from a Pediatric Nurse

Make Pediatrician Appointments Easier – Tips & Tricks from a Pediatric Nurse

Recently, I was invited to talk about being a nurse to a two-year-old class at our beloved daycare. Of course, I couldn’t turn the offer down. How fun to talk about nursing in a way a toddler would understand. I ran through all the basic things about nursing. I made a point to talk about how nurses and doctors are safe people who want to ensure you’re healthy! This got me thinking – I see a lot of two-year-olds at the pediatric clinic I work at. Some toddlers do great, and some have a tough time, but that’s to be expected.

It doesn’t have to be this way

It’s your child’s yearly checkup with the pediatrician – you find yourself dragging a terrified child into the office, then back to a room with a nurse, where they reluctantly get up on the table and have their vitals and measurements taken. The doctor has finished their assessment with the scary-looking instruments on your screaming child, and the nurse enters for a less-than-pleasurable experience with vaccines. If this sounds like a situation you can relate to, I promise idoesn’t have to be this way.  Let me, your friendly pediatric nurse, help you turn these negative visits into positive ones. Doctors‘ office visits can seem so scary and intimidating to little ones; talking through what’s expected at a doctor’s appointment can be beneficial for many reasons. Doing this starting at a young age is even better!

Prepare your child 

If you’re not sure what the visit will entail, call and ask. The nurses I work with are always happy to give parents a call and chat about an upcoming visit – what labs or vaccines the patient might get, any testing that might be done, or what to expect in general. This will help you speak to your child – whether two or ten, you can discuss all things medical in a way they can understand. Speak about doctors and nurses in a positive light, and explain that we are safe people who want to make sure your child is healthy and growing. If you see a regular pediatrician, speak about them by name so your child will remember who they are. 

If any testing, labs, or vaccines are to be done at an upcoming appointment – talk about it! The kids who do better with shots expect these to happen long before the appointment and know why they are getting them. You can say, “These shots are to keep you healthy against germs that could make you very sick,” or “You’re getting your blood drawn for a test to let us know how healthy you are.” Nurses never like to ambush or poke a child, not expecting a shot.

Books and play kits

One great way to prepare is by reading books about the doctor – these will help you bring up a conversation about the doctor and what will happen at a normal checkup. These books often show pictures of what we do at the clinic, like measurements, assessments, medication, and vaccines.

Here are a few of my favorites from Amazon

However, the most popular book I see parents bring to visits is Bea Gets a Checkup. This book is a part of the Lovevery play kits and a great option for toddlers.

Play doctor kits are a great addition! These can familiarize kids with tools they might see at the doctor’s office. It’s fun when kids bring these in and “help” the nurses and doctors! Something simple like this works just fine and covers the majority of instruments used in clinics.

Always offer rewards

I am not above a bribe or reward – there is nothing wrong with rewarding your child after a challenging appointment. I love it when parents have something planned ahead of time, like an ice cream date. This allows me, the nurse, to connect with my patient and talk about something fun and exciting. Not only do parents enjoy rewarding their children, but the clinic staff does also! We have stickers, books, and a treasure chest that we love to offer.

Other tips and tricks

  • Bring snacks and drinks – we don’t mind a few cheerios on the ground as long as it keeps our patients happy.
  • Crayons for table papers will keep little ones busy waiting for the doctor.
  • Easy access clothing is key during doctor appointments; it’ll make your life much easier, too!
  • Bring a favorite lovey or stuffy; we are all about comfort here!

Here’s an article from a fellow Cedar Rapids Moms writer about a negative experience at the doctor. If things aren’t going as expected, speak up and let the office know. Most clinics, especially those geared towards kids, will always make accommodations to be sure you are well taken care of during your appointment.

I hope these tips & tricks make for smoother pediatrician visits in the future!

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