How to Survive Your 1-Year-Old’s First Blood Test

Is it time for your baby’s first year check up? Then it might be time for baby’s first blood test! I’m writing this post because I recently had to take Baby M for her first blood test and it was SO hard to find a post with all this information rolled into one!

Here are some helpful answers to common blood test questions as well as some tips to make the procedure as painless as possible.

Why do one-year-old’s need a blood test?

Blood tests are prescribed for the one year checkup to test for lead and anemia. According to Maya Peds, first year bloodwork tests for anemia and lead levels.

Will my one-year-old need a blood test?

Yes, your one-year-old will most likely need a blood test. This can help your doctor monitor iron and lead levels as well as create a baseline for your little one’s future blood tests.

How will by one-year-old’s blood be drawn?

Believe it or not, phlebotomists are able to do a standard arm puncture blood test on a baby. However, if this isn’t possible, they can do a finger prick. A finger prick may sound easier, but it will take considerably longer to get the same amount of blood as a vein draw.

When newborns’ blood is tested in the hospital it is usually taken from the heel.

Can I hold my toddler or baby during their blood test?

Yes, you can hold your baby or toddler during their blood test! You will most likely have to help hold them still. It will also be a comfort for them to have you close, rather than being held by a stranger.

How do I make a blood test easier for my one-year-old?

Here are some ways that you can make a blood test easier for your little one!

  • Prepare the day before by keeping them hydrated (here’s a note from Phlebotomy USA on why it’s important to drink water before a blood test)
  • Pack your bag for success! Here’s what I brought in my diaper bag
    • A few toys
    • An ice pack
    • A charged phone
    • Lollipops (for myself, in case I felt woozy)
    • Water
    • A blanket
  • Use videos and music to keep your little one calm
  • Dress them in clothing that can be moved for the test (we opted for a loose long sleeve shirt)
  • Be prepared for tears and screaming
  • Have a plan for afterwards, they will want to cuddle and rest
  • Nurse your baby if you are still breastfeeding, for comfort

Anything else that can be used to comfort your baby is recommended!

How do I help my one-year-old recover from a blood test?

Rest and hydration are super important after a blood test. Your baby may be tired after all that emotional output, and need a nap when they get home. You may want to schedule their test for a time when you can be home with them after. Make sure to offer lots of water for hydration.

How long does it take to get baby’s blood test results?

Assuming nothing is wrong and it’s a routine test, you can expect results back in less than a week. If you don’t hear back after that, assume that “no news is good news”, but check in with you pediatrician if you’re concerned.

My Baby’s First Blood Test

Let me start this by saying that I am terrified of blood. I can’t tell you why, because I don’t know why. I’ve felt woozy and nauseous around blood every since I was a child. It doesn’t matter if it’s a finger prick or a bloody nose, I almost always feel faint.

I’ve fainted so many times in doctor’s offices. Even someone talking about blood makes me woozy. I thought I would never, ever, get over it.

Then I got pregnant.

I’m not sure if it was the mama bear hormones or what, but my anxiety around blood lessened significantly. I handled all of those blood tests like a champ. I was so proud of myself.

Of course, 3 months postpartum I went to get a shot and was feeling so confident about my new superpower….Right after I had to lie down on a hallway bench, gulping down apple juice given to me by a kind nurse who saw me turn white as a ghost at the sight of the needle.

Maybe next pregnancy!

Anyways…back to my daughter’s first blood test…

Whew, was I nervous for this one! Usually, I just whisk her away for doctor’s appointments, but this time, I knew I had to prepare.

I made sure to explain to her that we were going to the doctors and they would be giving her a little test and that it might hurt. I didn’t want to tell her that it would be painless or easy. I explained that it might be uncomfortable, but it will be quick. I told her that the nurses were there to help her.

I don’t know if she understood any of this, but I think it made me feel a little less bad. It’s really mentally difficult to have to restrain your child for a procedure. I think I get more upset about it than she does.

The day before, I offered water constantly so that she would be hydrated. I’ve learned from my own previous blood tests that this is key!

Once we were in the office, I stayed calm and collected, like it was no big deal. Baby M smiled at people in the waiting room and was totally fine until the nurse went to take her arm.

She gently poked around for a vein on her arm, but was unable to find one. So, they had to do a finger prick. I’m sure it was maybe four minutes at the most, but it felt like forever. Baby M would go back and forth between rigid-back screaming to curious babbler.

The nurses were so sweet; one administered the prick while the other took out some toys and danced them around in front of her.

I didn’t look at the pricking. I told Baby M how great she was doing and focused on controlling my breathing.

After it was over, they gave her a big bandage on her finger, which made her irate. They told me to keep it on her for 20 minutes, but it didn’t even make it with us to the car.

All in all, it was a great experience for a terrible situation. We came home, had a late breakfast, and she was off for her nap.

Next time, I know that as long as I stay calm, we can get through it!

Has your little one gotten a blood test yet? How did they handle it? How did you handle it?

Do you have a fear of blood?

Let me know below!



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