Injections for Type 1 Diabetes
How to help your Child
Needles are used during childhood immunizations, blood draws, or even IV
placement. Children with Type 1 diabetes, however, have needle pokes daily. These
can include frequent insulin injections, finger sticks for blood sugar testing, and
pump site changes. It is helpful to decrease needle fears if you can reduce pain and
How can a parent or support person help?
Not knowing what to do to help your child can be very stressful. Here are some
ideas that we hope you may find helpful.
Be with your child
For younger children, we suggest that you be with your child to hold and comfort
them during painful or fearful times, like finger sticks and insulin pokes. The stress
that a child feels before and during these events will increase the amount of pain
felt. Children tend to feel less pain when a support person is with them to comfort
For older children who are learning to poke themselves, it is helpful to be there next
to the child for support, advice, and encouragement. This can make it a more
positive experience and decrease pain and anxiety with needle sticks.
A child can sense your anxious feelings. Your calm voice, words, and presence can
help your child feel less anxious and scared.
Help your child get into a helpful position – Here are some options:
Sitting on Lap
Helpful with young school-
Child sitting on adult’s lap
Child’s legs can be tucked
between adult’s legs
Hugging and hand holding
Child can watch what is
going on or look at
Child can sit on lap, facing
Child can focus on
View is blocked by the
hug, a book, toy, or cell
Sitting or Standing Beside Support Person
Helpful with older school-age kids
Helpful with kids learning to poke themselves
Can sit in chair or right next to child
Can choose to watch or focus on something else
May use book, toy, or other device to block view
Help distract your child and focus on something else.
Changing your child’s focus from a painful event to something else can be very
helpful. You could help them choose a special blanket or toy. You could read a fun
book or play a game with your child.
It is important to allow your child to be as involved in the process as they want to
be. Some children actually find it less stressful if they have the option of watching
the injection or poke and looking away if and when they want to.
Age of Child Ideas to Try
4-6 years of age
Deep breathing, telling a story, puppet play, music,
singing, TV, talking about favorite places, a book to look at
such as I-Spy.
6-11 years of age
Music, deep breathing, counting, stare at something
without blinking, make your child laugh, music, video
games, talking about favorite places or past event
12 years old and
Music, movies, video games, squeezing a stress ball, talk
about things they enjoy , ask if they have helpful ideas
A new device was created to help with the pain of a needle. Buzzy Bee combines the
use of vibration and cold to decrease or reduce needle poke pain. The device works
best, for most people, when placed near the site of the needle stick, like the insulin
injection or pump insertion site. We may need to place at other sites, like the
opposite arm or leg. Buzzy Bee is believed to work because the vibration and cold
block the pain signal from going to the brain. If the child is afraid of bees, Buzzy also
comes in plain black or as a ladybug. More information can be found and devices can
be ordered at: www.buzzy4shots.com.
Choose your words wisely
The words you use with the child during a needle stick make an impact. Talk to the
child about their behavior before, during, and after an injection or finger poke. Let
the child know when it is “all done” and praise the child. Allow them to tell you how
they feel about what just happened. It may cause the child more distress if you say
you are sorry this has happened, criticize, or give complete control to the child, so
these should be avoided. Here are some words and phrases that can be helpful:
Phrases to avoid
Phrases that might help
“This feels like a bee sting.” “Tell me how it feels.”
“Sorry” “Other kids say it feels like…”
“Be a big boy/girl!” “When I count to three, blow the feeling
away from your body.”
“Don’t cry.” “That was hard.”
If you reduce the pain and fear of needle sticks it will help to keep your child in good
control of their diabetes and to live a long and healthy life.
As your child gets older, studies show that it can be helpful to let them practice
pokes on an orange, sponge or soft doll. It helps to reduce their fear and reduce
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.
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