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How to Help When Your Child Needs to Get a Needle Poke

needle poke

Why does my child need a needle poke

In hospitals needle pokes may be used for:



IV medications & fluids

IV Medications & Fluids

Numbing injections for stitching

Numbing Injections for Stitching

The difference between bloodwork (venipuncture) and IVs (Intravenous Placement)

Needle poke to take blood sample

Needle poke to insert "straw" (IV cannula): needle comes out, but "straw" stays in

Why does my child need an IV?

Tips for everyone

1. Be calm and use encouraging language


Be a role model for your child - they are looking to you to understand how they should feel.

Don’t say sorry, but tell them how great they are doing!

2. Try numbing cream

numbing cream

Numbing cream can be used for all ages.

But remember they require 30 - 60 minutes to work, depending on the type of numbing cream used.

3. Ask for help

ask help

You can always ask health care professionals for help or suggestions.

Age specific tips

Click an icon to view

  • baby button
  • child button
  • teen button

Tips for Babies


Sugar water

Give sugar water 1-2 minutes before the procedure.

Feeding before and after

Start feeding your infant immediately before the procedure and continue during and after.


Distract your infant at the time of the poke. (Bells, toys, etc.)

Comfort Holds

Kangaroo Care

Kangaroo care

Also called ‘direct skin contact’.

Hold your child facing you, against your bare chest.

Start the hold 15 minutes before the needle poke.

Tips for Children


Offer fun and positive ways to distract your child from the needle poke.

Include your child in deciding which distraction would be best.

Here are some suggestions:


Video Games



Blow Bubbles

Blow Bubbles

Comfort Holds

The Joey Position

The Joey Position

Caregiver sits on bed or chair - child sits on lap facing outward

Child's leg can be tucked in between caregiver's leg as needed

The Bear Hug

The Bear Hug

Caregiver sits on bed or chair - child straddles chest to chest.
(Child faces their caregiver)

Child's legs are positioned so that they are stable

Tips for Teens

Distractions & Comforts

Let your teen decide what they need and what will work best for them.


Give open and honest answers to any questions they may have.


Suggest that they take a deep breathe and look away.


Distractions help - try listening to your favourite tunes!

Also remember!

Positive attitude and support can go a long way. Everyone needs a confidence boost sometimes!

Useful Links

Learn more!

[Video] How to help when your child needs a needle poke

This video provides information about needle pokes and useful tips for parents and families who have a child that may require a needle poke.

Health Link

Do you have question or concern regarding the health of yourself or a child? The Health Link website provides resources that can help answer your question. Can’t find the answer on the site? Dial 811 to talk to a registered nurse to get advice on what to do.