Babies – especially the smart ones – can learn to dislike visits to the doctor. Young as they are, here they are able to remember that they don’t like being held down, adiposity weighed on a cold scale, pricked and prodded and even punctured (with a needle!). Babies who have health issues that require painful or uncomfortable medical interventions can develop particularly intense negative reactions to examination and treatment. Unfortunately, medical treatment is a necessity of life. Whether the baby likes it or not, there will be routine, exploratory and possibly even emergency visits to the doctor.
If your baby has learned to hate going to the doctor, consider the following tips:
Try using Emotional Coaching
Emotional coaching involves acknowledging and naming your child’s feelings. Though your baby may not understand the words you are saying, he or she will still understand the message you are trying to convey through body language and tone of voice. You can say, “You don’t like the doctor, do you?” or “The doctor hurt you last time you were there, didn’t he?” Cooing gently, indicating sympathy and understanding, you will be able to communicate your emotional support even to a pre-verbal child. At the doctor’s office, be sure to hold and stroke the baby even while the doctor performs an examination or intervention. Again, this communicates, “We’re here with you and we care about you. We know it hurts.” Although this approach isn’t going to make your baby like the doctor, it can help prevent or reduce trauma and leave the door open for developing a more positive doctor-patient relationship in the future.
Consider Bach Flower Therapy to Help Reduce Fear
Bach Flower Therapy is a harmless water-based naturopathic treatment that can ease emotional distress and even prevent it from occurring in the future. It is safe enough for newborn babies and nursing mothers. Rescue Remedy is a potent mix of a few different Bach remedies, specially designed to address situational stress, panic, trauma and terror. Although it doesn’t always work (just like medication doesn’t always relieve a headache), it is usually very effective in calming a distraught child or adult. Since it is harmless, there is no reason not to try giving it to your baby before a visit to the doctor. It might just help! Rescue Remedy can be found in health food stores around the world. Give your baby 4 drops of Rescue Remedy before you head to the doctor and again once you enter the examination room. The 4 drops can be added to any liquid (water, chocolate milk, juice, etc.) and sipped, or they can be applied directly to the baby’s body (pulse points, chest, tummy or wherever). Remedies can be taken with or without food and they do not interact with any medicine, herb, food or health condition.
Provide Special Treats
When you’re finished seeing the doctor, allow a few minutes (if possible!) for the baby to play with the toys in the office or to have a pleasant outing with you. Depending on your baby’s age, it might be appropriate to offer a treat, a story or a special toy. The idea is to help your baby associate the doctor’s visit with something nice afterward. This can reduce future stress and form positive associations between seeing the doctor and enjoying something extra nice. Obviously, if your baby is too sick to enjoy anything, getting home quickly will be the best treat of all!