Surviving Toddler Doctor’s Appointments

Surviving Toddler Doctor’s Appointments

When Julia was a baby, her checkups were not necessarily super difficult.  Every 3 months we’d pop in for our appointment, and hope the wait time wasn’t too long. Of course, even as a baby she never enjoyed getting vaccines but back then she didn’t have the ability to associate the doctor’s appointment with them just yet.

This all changed when she was about 18 months old. We had been at her neurologist’s office for her 18 months check-up and when the nurse tried to lay her back to measure her she flipped out! This had never been an issue before but then it clicked. Only a couple weeks earlier she had been at her regular doctor for a checkup and to get a vaccine and they had to lay her down in order to prick her in the thigh.

And she remembered.

Ever since then Julia learned to associate her doctor’s office with getting vaccinations, which naturally, makes her anxious and makes the appointments quite difficult. The past few visits it has been a bit of a struggle to have her examined and measured.

We just had her 2 1/2 year appointment earlier this week and I thought I would share some of the tips and tricks I’ve used to make these appointments a little less stressful.


 

1. Always Come Prepared:

  • Snacks! Doctor’s appointments can be unpredictable. Sometimes you may end up having a longer wait time than you expected and so always a good idea to have a snack on hand in case your kiddo gets grumpy or hungry. Something simple like some goldfish or a pouch does the trick. I also always bring her water cup with us (anywhere we go really).
  • Schedule your appointments for the morning if possible Julia has always been a morning person so technically I could’ve always scheduled her for morning appointments. But for some reason in the past, I always opted for an afternoon appointment. For our latest appointment, we went at 8:45am and it made a huge difference. The office was not backed up, we were called into the check-up room promptly and we were in and out in less than a half-hour! Being able to get in and out quickly cuts down the stress for both you and your kiddo.
  • Disinfectant Wipes – I don’t usually let Julia play with the toys in the waiting room because I don’t know or trust how clean they are. I usually keep her in her stroller in the waiting room. However, inside the check-up room, there is also a toy that she loooves to play with (much to my germaphobic dismay).
    The first time I caved and let her play with it, she came down with a cold a few days later. Since then, I bring my own disinfectant wipes to the doctor’s office and wipe down the toy before I let her touch it.
  •  “Secret Toy” – I use this in the event of a meltdown – which of course happened at this week’s appointment. Julia started getting very anxious that she was going to get a shot (even though she wasn’t going to this time) and began to cry while the doctor was examining her. What Julia didn’t know is that I had stashed her Daniel Tiger figurine in my pocket before we left. While she was crying I pulled it out and showed her and she held on to it and calmed down.

2. Talk To Them About It – Thoroughly!

pexels-photo-1027931In the days prior to Julia having a doctor’s appointment, I let her know that she will be visiting the doctor in a few days. I describe to her the process, loosely at first, saying she’s going to check your heart, eyes, ears, etc to sort of ease her into the idea. There is a great episode of Daniel Tiger that we watch together about going for a checkup too.

On the morning of her checkup I sit her down and we talk about how our whole day is going to go. I tell her, we’re going to go in mommy’s car and drive to the doctor’s office. When we get there, there will be a nice lady who will take your name and then we sit down and wait to be called. Then we meet a nurse who will check your height and weight, etc. If I can ahead of time, I try to find out if we will be getting a vaccination that day so I can prepare her for that as well. I think giving your child a descriptive play by play of how the visit is going to go is helpful because it helps them to know what to expect. Just showing up to the doctor’s office without even telling them that they’d be going that day will only add to their anxiety.

3. Have A Reward At The End

girl-wearing-white-sleeveless-dress-holding-a-lollipop-2781197When Julia was a baby her appointments were harder for me than they were for her. Getting her all packed up, making sure she didn’t need a diaper change before we went in, hoping we wouldn’t have a long wait, worrying about the appointment cutting into a feeding or nap time, worrying about the meltdown when she got a shot, trying to comfort her when it was over, etc it was a lot of stress for me.

By the end of her appointments, I’d often be sweating and just ready to be out of there. At some point during the first year of her life, I started getting a coffee after the appointment was over as sort of a “Survived Another Appointment” reward.

As Julia has gotten older and fully understands what doctor’s appointments are all about, it is stressful in its own way for her. No one likes getting shots and she knows it’s a possibility when she goes. Understanding what this feels like, I now offer her a reward when she has an appointment. We’ll either go to the Dollar Store and pick out a new book or we’ll go get a special treat at the bakery (her favorite).  It’s something I remind her about when she’s upset during the appointment, and remind her about again when it’s time to peel her away from the toy she loves to play with in the check-up room.

Those are my 3 tips for surviving toddler doctor appointments! I hope they are helpful and I hope that you have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

 

Sending love & light,

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