How to Prepare Your Child for a Blood Draw

MUSC Health
February 12, 2021
Kqiana Young

Everyone’s first experience with a blood draw is different. Even kids’ reactions can range from a little upsetting to surprisingly calm. We don’t expect every child to react positively to their first needle sighting — that’s why Kqiana Young, a phlebotomist at MUSC Children’s Health R. Keith Summey Medical Pavilion is here to help make that first experience as comfortable as possible. Here, she gives some advice on what to tell your child to expect from a blood draw. Don’t forget that these are useful for that first time, as well as for future blood draws.

Check in

Talk to the medical staff before you go into the lab about any anxiety your child may be experiencing about the appointment. Let them know how you’ve prepared him or her already, and the staff, in turn, can let you know any further advice they have in preparation for the draw, including next steps. Additionally, ask our pediatric experts any questions you may have about the experience. 

Learn to relax and breathe

Help your child practice being calm long before a blood draw. We recommend doing some breathing exercises that will both induce relaxation and prevent your child from holding their breath and possibly fainting during the draw. Try breathing slowly through the nose, counting to four, and exhaling for four counts. 

Sit still

It’s not uncommon for young patients to be a little squirrely, so help prepare your child for that blood draw moment by practicing sitting still. Let them know that this is the most important thing they can do during the procedure. This helps the blood draw go faster (a big bonus for little ones) and is the best way to help the phlebotomist keep the child as safe as possible. 

Be honest

Be honest about what will happen. We recommend using strong, positive words to help the child relax while being open about the fact that it may hurt a little. Try describing the blood draw as a “pinch,” or even, “Most kids say that the pinch only lasts for a second and it’s gone, just like that.”

Bring a toy

Bring any comfort items or materials that will help your child throughout the blood draw. From a teddy bear they don’t want to part with to a distracting puzzle or game to play while in the waiting room, we recommend most anything that helps to provide comfort!

Stay hydrated

This is especially important! Unless you’ve been specifically instructed to have nothing by mouth the night before, make sure that your child drinks plenty of fluids the night before the blood draw. Warm and healthy veins will be easy for the phlebotomist to locate. 

About the Author

MUSC Health

Keywords: Childrens Health, Kids