Vaccinating babies protects them from a host of deadly diseases, but how to protect them from the pain of all those shots? A study out today from Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia, has the answer – times five!
The technique is called the “5 S’s,” and it was pioneered by Santa Monica pediatrician Harvey Karp, M.D., author of the 2003 book The Happiest Baby On the Block, as a way to soothe colicky infants. The S’s in question are:
Researchers divided 230 infants in for their 2-month or 4-month checkups into four groups. The first were given plain water two minutes before their vaccinations. The second received sugar-water, which had been the gold standard for vaccination pain relief in infants. In the third group, caregivers employed the 5 S’s after the shot, while the final group received sugar-water before the shot and the 5 S treatment afterward.
Babies receiving water or sugar-water alone were still crying at least two minutes after their shots, but most of the babies who received the 5 S’s had stopped crying by 45 seconds – and all had stopped within one minute.
Another effective way to reduce pain in infants, breastfeeding, wasn’t included in the study. It provides infants with skin-to-skin contact, and the sugar from mother’s milk, but breastfeeding in a pediatrician’s office isn’t an option for all moms. “It is definitely something we allow and don’t think for a moment we should suggest otherwise,” says lead study author John Harrington, M.D., “but for parents who do not breastfeed or may be shy to breastfeed in front of others, this may be a nice alternative.”
He notes that some of the S’s were more effective than others, but that the study didn’t evaluate each specifically. “I think the main thing is doing at least three to four of the S’s to get the full effect,” Harrington explains.
The study was published in the April 16 issue of Pediatrics.