Using Pediatric Pain Scales
Neonatal Infant Pain Scale (NIPS)
At UW Health, we care about your child’s
comfort. You are an important member of
your child’s healthcare team. You know
your child best. We want to partner with you
to help control your child’s pain. If you
have questions or concerns, please speak up
and let your child’s nurse know. While we
may not be able to make your child pain
free, this is what we can do.
ξ Assess your child’s pain. This is the
first step to understand and treat
o We use pain scales based on
the child’s age, ability to
communicate and preference. We
work with you and your child to
decide which one works best.
The pain scale you choose is
used the whole time your child is
in the hospital. unless your
child’s condition changes.
ξ Work with you and your child to
come up with a goal for pain control.
ξ Learn what has worked before to
control your child’s pain and put that
information in your child’s plan of
ξ Use medicine and non-drug methods
to control your child’s pain.
ξ Teach you about other methods you
can use to control your child’s pain.
Often a combination of medicine and
comfort methods will give the best pain
If you think medicine is needed, please let
your child’s nurse know. In the hospital a
doctor must order pain medicine before a
nurse can give it to a patient. Your child’s
nurse works with you to decide what is
needed. In clinic your child’s doctor or nurse
talks with you about the pain medicine plan.
You can start using some simple methods if
your child seems uncomfortable or in pain.
These methods are often able to provide
comfort and distraction that may decrease
your child’s pain. At the hospital we have
options to provide pain control without
medicine. The nurse, nursing assistant or
child life therapist can work with you to
choose the best tools for your child. They
can give you tips about how to use the tools
that are chosen. We also have another
Health Fact for You titled Non-drug Pain
Control for Kids that gives tips based on
your child’s age. These methods can be
used with or without medicine. Pain control
research teaches us that the best pain control
happens when we combine medicines that
work in different ways, and non-drug
methods of pain control. We suggest you try
these non-drug methods with your child
when you feel they may be helpful.
Neonatal Infant Pain Scale (NIPS)
At the American Family Children’s Hospital
(AFCH) the NIPS is used in children less
than one year of age. Children at this age are
not able to tell us if they are in pain. This
scale uses body language to help us to
understand if a child is in pain. A child is
evaluated and either scored a 0 or 1 in each
category based on their behavior. A total
score is calculated. Most of the time a score
greater than 3 tells us a child is likely to be
experiencing pain or discomfort. If you
notice this, you could try some of the
comfort methods listed below.
ξ Singing or soft music
ξ Gentle stroking
ξ Rocking with the child in a rocking
ξ Holding a comfort item or blanket
Neonatal/Infant Pain Scale (NIPS)
(Recommended for children less than 1 year old) A score greater than 3 indicates pain.
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 © 11/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7711