How to Give a Subcutaneous (SC) Injection to Your Child
Needles and syringes
Alcohol swabs or gauze
Vial with the drug solution
container (Health Facts for You #4587)
Before you begin:
Wash hands well with soap and water. Gather the supplies for the
injection and place them on a clean, dry surface.
Note: If your syringe is already drawn up, skip steps 2-6.
1. Screw a needle on the syringe hub.
2. Vial: Flip off the plastic top. Use an alcohol swab and wipe
the rubber stopper.
3. Take the cover off the needle. To draw air into the syringe,
pull the plunger back to the desired volume, __________ mL.
( See picture A)
Put the needle straight into the vial through the rubber
stopper. Inject air into the bottle by pushing down on
the plunger. (See picture B)
4. Using one hand, turn the vial with the syringe upside
down. Be sure the needle is in the bottle and below the
fluid level. Pull the plunger back to the correct mark,
_________ mL. (See picture C)
5. Check for air bubbles in the syringe. You can remove bubbles by flicking
the syringe with your finger.
If the air bubble is at the top of the syringe, push gently on the plunger so
the air goes back into the bottle. Before you remove the needle, be sure
you have the proper volume in the syringe.
6. Remove the needle from the vial. It is OK to put the cover
on the needle for a moment. Be very careful not to stick
yourself. Never place the syringe on your work surface
unless you put the cap on the needle.
Find your injection site
You will inject into the fatty tissue. Please change the injection sites as taught by your nurse or
health care provider. This is called “rotation” and it helps give the different sites a break from
Arms: Use the back of the arm to make sure you inject into the fatty
tissue. This can be hard to do on your own.
Thighs: use middle and outer areas where you can pinch up tissue.
Abdomen: Do not use the area within one-inch around your child’s
navel. Avoid the belt-line area as rubbing may irritate the injection site.
Avoid scars from surgery.
Buttocks: try to give injection as close to the X, in the shaded areas,
in any tissue you can pinch. These sites are usually used for babies
but can be used for any age group.
Steps to give the injection
1. Wash your hands again with soap and water. Clean the skin where you will give the shot.
You may use soap and water or an alcohol pad. Let the skin dry. Make sure you can clearly
see where you will give the shot. Avoid any scars, bruises, or swollen areas.
2. Pull the cap firmly and straight off of the needle to avoid poking yourself. Keep the needle
sterile once you have removed the cap; do not set the needle down or touch it. With the hand
you use for writing, hold the syringe like a pencil or a dart.
3. With the other hand, gently pinch the cleaned skin between your thumb and fingers to make a
fold in the skin. Be sure to hold the skin fold until the injection is done.
4. Insert the needle into the skin fold, holding the syringe at a 90° angle. (If there is very little
fatty tissue, you may inject at a 45° angle. * Ask your health care team what is best for your
5. Reach up with your pointer finger and press the plunger down until all of the medicine has
been pushed into the fatty tissue.
6. Remove the needle by gently and quickly pulling it out and away from the skin fold. You can
now let go of the skin fold. Do not rub the site after you are finished. Rubbing may bruise
the site or change how the medicine is absorbed.
7. Drop the used syringe or pen needle - needle first - into the “Sharps Box” or other hard
plastic container. Close the lid and move the box out of the reach of children.
Tips for parents about how to help your child through injections
Timing: Develop a routine and stick to it. Include your child in the planning. Who will be
present? Where will you do the injections? A safe and comfortable spot in the home is most
important, a favorite chair, laying in bed or sitting in someone’s lap. What comfort item does
your child want during the injection? How will you praise your child after he receives his
injection? Will it be a sticker? Will it be a hug? Will it be some screen time?
Pain control ideas: Numbing cream is sold over the counter in most pharmacies. While it
numbs the skin, it may not fully take care of pain that is felt under the skin. It also takes at least
20 minutes for it to be effective, which may be hard for some children to wait. Ice can help numb
the skin area just before the shot. Buzzy Bee is a vibrating tool that can be ordered online
through the website, www.buzzy4shots.com. Buzzy stimulates the skin to distract from painful
procedures like injections.
Other distraction ideas: Playing favorite music, using deep breathing, squeezing a ball and/or
playing a TV show or movie during the injection may also soothe children. With practice, you
will find what is right for you and your child.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 1/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospital and
Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7454