How do you survive your toddler’s blood test and make sure they have the best experience possible?
What could be more fun than taking a toddler for their annual blood test? I can think of at least 7 million things I would rather do. Today we’re getting into why toddlers need blood tests and how to make the experience as emotionally and physically painless as possible.
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If you are taking your baby for their first blood draw, head over to my previous post How to Survive Your One-Year-Old’s First Blood Test.
My two-year-old’s blood test.
First off, any type of medical experience is going to get my heart-rate going. It doesn’t matter if it’s the dentist or dermatologist- my palms are most definitely sweating and my limbs are definitely weak.
Secondly, anything that involves my kid is going to have 10x the emotion. I’m nervous for me, I’m nervous for her, I’m nervous that my anxiety is subconsciously radiating onto her and that she’s going to be in therapy for the rest of her life because of it, and blah, blah, blah (I’m a spiral-er, can you tell?).
I am, however, pleased to announce that my 2-year-old’s blood test went shockingly well, like a little too well. Like, “whose kid is this” well.
There was not one tear.
Not one grumble or groan or yelp or question.
She simply sat on my lap, watched a video, and did the damn thing.
For now, I’m perfectly content with this being her (and let’s be honest, my) lifetime achievement. As a frequent fainter and avoider of all things blood, this was deceptively easy.
Do all two-year-old’s need blood tests?
Our pediatrician had us do one, but toddlers generally do not need routine blood tests unless there is a specific medical reason to do so. A doctor will order a blood test when they suspect a health problem that cannot be diagnosed through physical examination alone. Definitely speak up and request one if you think that your child needs one!
Some common reasons for ordering blood tests in toddlers may include:
- Monitoring a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or anemia
- Diagnosing an infection or inflammation
- Checking for lead poisoning or other environmental toxins
- Evaluating liver or kidney function
- Screening for genetic disorders
If your child’s healthcare provider recommends a blood test, they will explain the reason for the test, what it entails, and any necessary preparation. They will also take steps to ensure that the experience is as comfortable and safe as possible for your child.
How often do toddlers go to the pediatrician?
If you are a parent or caregiver of a toddler, you may be wondering how often you should take them to the doctor. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider are important to ensure that your child is growing and developing as they should be, and to identify any potential health concerns early on.
Different types of visits:
- Toddler well-child visits: Most pediatricians recommend that toddlers have well-child visits at least once a year, starting at around 12-15 months of age. These visits allow the healthcare provider to monitor the child’s growth and development, provide necessary vaccinations, and address any questions or concerns the parents or caregivers may have.
- Sick visits: In addition to regular well-child visits, toddlers may need to see a healthcare provider for sick visits if they develop a fever, cough, or other symptoms of illness. During Covid, sick and well visits were in two completely different buildings, which was comforting.
- Specialist visits: If your child has a chronic medical condition or developmental delay, they may need to see a specialist on a regular basis. The frequency of these visits will depend on the specific condition and the recommendations of the specialist.
Obviously, every child is unique, and their healthcare needs may differ based on their individual health and development. Your child’s healthcare provider can provide guidance on how often your child should be seen for routine check-ups and other visits based on their individual needs.
How is a toddler’s blood drawn?
It’s typically done in the crease of the elbow, just like an adult. If you read my 1-year-old blood test post, you’ll see that they couldn’t get anything from my baby that way, so they actually did a very long finger prick.
Phlebotomists taking blood from children typically follow these steps:
- Site selection
- Cleaning the area
- Needle insertion
- Blood collection
Throughout the draw, the phlebotomist will communicate with the child and their caregiver to help make the experience as comfortable as possible. They save the most patient and kindest nurses for the kids!
Let it be known that I am receiving this information from *the internet* because I am a huge wuss and close my eyes as soon as I sit down in the chair.
The length of time it takes to complete a blood test can vary depending on the type of test being done and the specific laboratory where the test is being processed. Ours is in house, we literally just walk down the hall from the pediatrician to get it done. In general, a routine blood test typically takes a few minutes to complete, including the time needed to prepare, collect the blood sample, and label it correctly. I’m always so surprised how fast it is!
After the blood sample is collected, it may need to be processed in the lab, which can take a few hours to several days depending on the specific test being performed. Ours is typically 24 hours and they call us with the results. Some offices only call if results are abnormal, so be sure to ask!
Once the results are ready, they will be shared with the toddler’s pediatrician, who will interpret the results and discuss them with the patient. The exact timing of this process can vary depending on the healthcare provider’s office policies and the specific test being performed.
How do I make a blood test easier for my toddler?
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/coloring books
- An ice pack (we use these super cute fruit and veggie ones)
- A charged phone
- Lollipops (for myself, in case I felt woozy)
- Water in their preferred cup
- Use videos and music to keep your little one calm. I believe this is one of those “you do what you have to do” situations.
- 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 (not all kids have a bad experience!)
- 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 toddler is recommended!
The most important thing you can bring is a good, neutral attitude.
How we got through the blood draw with no tears.
After M had her blood test we went out for bagels and I made sure to keep her hydrated throughout the day.
Can I hold my toddler for 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.
What if I get nervous for my kid’s blood test?
What is hemophobia?
Hemophobia is a type of specific phobia characterized by an extreme and irrational fear of blood or injuries that involve bleeding. It is also known as blood-injection-injury phobia, and is one of the most common phobias. People with hemophobia may experience symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, and even fainting at the sight of blood. The condition can be treated with therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy.
I will say that mine has gotten better just with aging and the life perspective that comes with it. I still get woozy but I haven’t fainted (knock-on-wood) from blood in years! On top of like, being a mom and all, I actually escorted someone else to their blood test if you can believe it.
Is hemophobia genetic?
There is limited research on the genetics of hemophobia, which is the fear of blood. However, some studies suggest that there may be a genetic component to this phobia. This has always been a topic of interest for me because both of my parents have a fear of blood, as well as myself and my siblings.
One study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders found that people with a family history of anxiety disorders were more likely to develop specific phobias, including hemophobia. This suggests that there may be a genetic predisposition to developing this type of fear.
Another study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety found that individuals with a specific genetic variation related to serotonin regulation were more likely to experience panic symptoms during exposure to blood-injection-injury stimuli. This suggests that certain genetic factors may play a role in the development of hemophobia, which is fascinating.
While more research is needed to fully understand the genetic factors that contribute to hemophobia, it is clear that this fear is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that is influenced by a variety of factors, including both genetic and environmental factors. I’m really looking forward to breaking the cycle with my daughter.
All sources are listed at the bottom of this post.
How do you survive your little one’s blood test? Any tips you’d add to this post?
Let me know below!
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