Infant test/procedure preparation; Preparing infant for test/procedure
For older children, research has shown that preparing ahead can reduce crying or resisting the procedure. In addition, children report less pain and show less distress. Proper preparation for a test or procedure that can reduce an older child’s anxiety, encourage cooperation, and help develop coping skills.
Given the developmental level of your child (0 to 1 year), little pre-test preparation will be of benefit, but some considerations may ease your anxiety.
Before the test, know that your child probably will cry, and restraints may be used. But the most important way you can help your child through this procedure is by being there and showing you care.
Crying is a normal response to the strange environment, unfamiliar people, restraints, and separation from you. Your infant will cry more for these reasons than because the test or procedure is uncomfortable.
Knowing this from the onset may help relieve some of your anxiety about what to expect. Having specific information about the test may further reduce your anxiety. For more information please see the appropriate test.
Your infant may be restrained by hand or with physical devices. Infants lack the physical control, coordination, and ability to follow commands that older children and adults usually possess. Restraints may be used during a procedure or other situation to ensure your infant’s safety.
For example, if your infant needs an x-ray, clear test results require there be no movement. Furthermore, in radiological and nuclear studies while the films are taken, all staff temporarily leave the room. In these situations, restraints are used for your infant’s safety.
If a venipuncture is performed to obtain a blood sample or start an IV, restraints are important in preventing injury to your infant. If your child moves while the needle is being inserted, trauma could damage the venous system, bone, tissue, or nerves.
Most tests and procedures require extreme accuracy to obtain the desired outcome, whether to place an IV correctly, ensure accurate test results, or to avoid injuring the infant.
Your health care provider will use every means to ensure the safety and comfort of your baby. Besides restraints, other measures include medications, observation, and monitors.
DURING THE PROCEDURE:
Your presence helps your infant during the procedure, especially if the procedure allows you to maintain physical contact. If the procedure is performed at the hospital or your health care provider’s office, you will most likely be given the opportunity to be present.
If you are not asked to be by your child’s side and would like to be, ask your health care provider if this is possible. If you think you may become ill or anxious, consider keeping your distance, but remaining in your infant’s line of vision. If you are not able to be present, leaving a familiar object with your infant may be comforting.
- Ask your health care provider to limit the number of strangers entering and leaving the room during the procedure, since this can raise anxiety.
- Ask that the care provider who has spent the most time with your child perform the procedure.
- Ask that anesthetics be used where appropriate to reduce the level of discomfort your child will feel.
- Ask that painful procedures not be performed in the hospital crib, so that the infant does not come to associate pain with the crib. Many hospitals have special treatment rooms where procedures are performed.
- Imitate the behavior you or your health care provider need the infant to do, such as opening the mouth.
- Many children’s hospitals have Child Life specialists who are specially trained to educate patients and families and advocate for them during procedures. Ask if one if available.
by Brenda A. Kuper, M.D.