Give babies their shots while they’re strapped in their car seats

Rabia’s tip for making infant immunizations go a little easier:

I discovered this by accident when my son was small. I took him to get his shots at the doctor’s office. The nurse came in while he was still strapped in his car seat. I asked if she could give him the shot that way. I didn’t have to wrestle sore legs back into the car seat afterwards and it kept him more still than the nurse or me holding him down. I did it every time after that while he was still in an infant car seat.

Related: How to make flu shots less scary for kids


  1. AMY says

    That would be nice, but with both my children they had to be undressed to check their height, weight, ears, chest etc.

  2. says

    Just say no to the vaccination protocol. Syringes filled with the latest brew of the pharmaceutical industry’s newest product are not the answer. Do your homework before you let someone with fancy initials after their name stick a needle in your precious little gem…

  3. Sarah says

    The dangers of vaccinations to your child’s long term health prospects and longevity itself far outweigh any potential benefits touted by the pharmaceutical industry for vaccines. The LIES and misinformation about vaccine benefits from the drug industry is voluminous, overwhelming, and statistically provable.

  4. Katie says

    That sounds wonderful. That way I poison them, make them terrified of the carseat at the same time and let the child now I wont comfort him when he’s in pain! Yay!

  5. meggiemoo says

    I don’t get this hack…wasn’t your child crying after the shot? Wouldn’t you rather hold your child and soothe him/her? My DS always nursed afterwards for soothing.

  6. Laura says

    OMG I can’t believe that people here are anti-vacine. Vaccines are one of the great success stories of modern medicine, many really dangerous illnesses have had their occurences slashed by the use of vaccine. It is a sign of their success that people these days would risk these diseases (which now seem so unlikely) rather than take a very small potential and unproven risk of side effects. It is not that long ago that people died from childhood diseases like the measles.

    It is not irresponsible to vaccinate – it is irresponsible NOT to. Not only are you endangering your own child, but also the rest of the population around you. Vaccines require a certain level in the population to work properly. Below this level, outbreaks are likely. People not vaccinating are in principle responsible for such outbreaks. See for an example of such an outbreak.

    I recomend reading up on vaccines in science-friendly sources like to get more information about the science around vaccines. This site is good at sorting the pseudo from the real science while not being based on any commercial interests.

  7. monica says

    I don’t know how your child reacted to immunizations, but my child screamed bloody murder and needed to be held and nursed for quite a while afterwards until she calmed down. Leaving a baby in the carseat during and after shots seems cruel when most clearly need comforting both during and after.

  8. Lisa says

    I’ve never left my child in a car seat for his shots, but I do dress him as much as possible (usually shirt and socks) before the nurse gives his shots. At our office, it’s the very last thing done before we leave. Also, this last time I took him a new book to look at in the office that served as a great distraction during finger sticking and the like.

  9. Jean says

    Here’s a better hack- leave the carseat in the car, bring the baby in a sling, and hold the baby in your arms and nurse the baby during needle sticks. This way you have a calm, still baby before the shot, barely a blink from the baby during the shot, and no need for consolation (for anyone!) afterward. Worked for us.

  10. Christina says

    Sorry, I have to agree that I’d rather hold my baby while he’s getting a shot than have him strapped down to anything. But if yours is a calm one, then by all means go ahead and use the car seat–whatever works for you :)

    FYI–I didn’t think this really was the place for attacks on whether or not to vax your child. We don’t know each other’s history as far as why we’ve made our personal decisions either for or against, so perhaps it’s better if we just didn’t go there on this particular forum.

  11. says

    Great advice – it is always difficult to know how best to deal with a situation like this. You know it has to happen but it is painful none the less – this is a good suggestion.

  12. says

    To add to Jean’s suggestion for nursing your baby during shots, if you nurse and if you choose to vax:

    -the nursing releases endorphins, which we know are powerful pain dampeners
    -your infant will outgrow the car seat, but if you continue to nurse your child 2 years and beyond, as is recommended by the Canadian Pediatric Society, you can nurse just all or most early childhood vaccinations

  13. Laura says

    Hi (Christina and all),
    Re-reading my comment, I realise that I may have come on a bit strong, sorry about that. Y’know, when one gets a bee in ones bonnet about something, it can be a bit difficult to hold back ;)

  14. hedra says

    Hey, some kids are up kids, and some are down kids. I’ve had both. If the car seat is their comfy spot, go for it. And if HOME SO I CAN BE ON MOMMY THERE AS FAST AS POSSIBLE is the comfy spot, then this might still be the best answer. Whatever gets them out of there and home fastest can be the right answer for some kids (I’m assuming that there’s some immediate comforting, but I’ve been able to do that in unusual conditions as well – anyone who has comforted a child while actually in the car seat in the car knows this can be done).

    We did the nursing while shots thing – one nurse said, ‘No, you’ll get BIT’ but I asked her if babies close their mouths when they yell, and she went… ‘um, right. Okay, then!’ There were a few that were tricky to position for (based on what that child’s favored nursing hold was at the time), but that definitely worked for us. If you’re not nursing, feeding even a few sucks from a bottle or using a pacifier while in arms is a close second (the act of sucking reduces the stress response, even if you’re not breastfeeding).

  15. Robyn says

    How RUDE!, someone is trying to give a tip they find helpful and the first few comments are about what an awful (in the commentors opinion) thing vaccines are. This is not the blog for it.

    I hope people are more polite to the commentors than they were to this helpful mom.

    I prefer to hold my baby but I know my nephew barely noticed the shots so the carseat would have worked well for him.

  16. JLA says

    I thought you were supposed to kind of jostle the baby and move their legs a bit so the vaccine doesn’t pool in one spot? Not sure, just something the nurses at my peds office have always done.

    The vaccine debate doesn’t belong here and to those who don’t agree with vaccines please don’t suggest that those of us who opt for them are “uneducated.” RUDE!

  17. KTinNYC says

    I agree that nursing is the way to go. We selectively vax, and started at 2 yo. I explained ahead of time that dd would be getting a little bit of medicine put under her skin with a needle, that it might pinch a bit, and that she could nurse if she wanted to. As she got older, she chose to be held instead of nursing- she never flinched, knowing exactly what was happening and why, and having seen me get blood draws and the like several times- I explained everything to her in her terms, and she understood.
    If we had started younger, I still would have explained- although she wouldn’t have understood as much- and then definitely nursed her, as it’s one of the best sedatives and anesthetics available for babies.

  18. Laura W. says

    Thanks Robyn. Lets not be rude to one another – who knows, one persons hack might help another even if others don’t agree. If you don’t agree, nobody is forcing you to give the shots while in the carseat. Its just a SUGGESTION!

    Thanks Robyn!

  19. Staci says

    Wow. I bookmarked this website some time ago, but haven’t read it in a while. I came today because I had some free time. This was the first one I read. Unbelievable.

    It furthers my belief that as a parent you need to trust your instincts and not listen to other peoples opinions on what you should or shouldn’t do in regards to raising your children.

    To the hack, I am sure you probably had no idea your suggestion would stir this sort of “controversy.” I think your idea is brilliant and will pass it on to those friends of mine I think it will work for.

    I will be deleting this site from my bookmarks.

  20. Rabia says

    WOW! I had no idea I had such power to stir up controversy! I will not defend myself, but I would like to clarify why I think this worked for my son. Because he could not move or jerk his leg, the needle went straight in and straight out. From my own bloodwork experience, moving needles hurt! Being in the carseat kept him from jerking his legs and made it less painful for him. BTW I have been told several times that I could not nurse my children during vaccinations because of the dangers of them aspirating milk when they cried. Truth be told, neither of my children have minded their shots all that much. My 4yo actually loves going to the doctor and asks for shots!

  21. Pat Niemeyer says

    This sounds like a way to make your child afraid of both getting shots and the car seat.

    And to the nut jobs who have commented that they don’t want the vaccinations – if you have so little trust in your doctor that you think he or she is using your child to make money for the Pharm industry against their interest or you think you know more about immunology than your doctor then why on earth are you going to the doctor in the first place? Have you met anyone with polio or the measles recently? Why do you think that is?

    – Pat

  22. Parent Hacks Editor says

    I’ve been offline (on vacation) so am only now reading all of the comments here. As always, I appreciate the passionate responses (and I can clearly see why this hack wouldn’t work for everyone), but I don’t appreciate the sarcasm on both sides about the vaccination debate.

    Parent Hacks publishes tips that work for particular families — not *every* family. We’ve posted plenty of hacks I’d never use myself — doesn’t mean they couldn’t help someone else, or, at the very least, prompt a meaningful conversation.

    For all of those people who respectfully disagreed (or agreed) with this hack, thank you for contributing to a worthwhile conversation. All: let’s keep the dialog open, and not devolve into name-calling.

  23. Lori says

    I understand this hack completely. Every time we went for vaccinations during infancy, my daughter was the happiest when she was just put back down in her car seat.

    And thank you for not letting the anti-vaccine crazies
    use their scare tactics to make you second-think putting a vaccine-related hack on your site.

  24. Laura says

    I think it’s terrible that a parent wouldn’t comfort their child after vaccinations. This makes me sad.

  25. says

    Why is it so unfathomable that maybe the baby didn’t cry after the vaccine? Why are you assuming that the parent is being cruel by not comforting a child that maybe doesn’t need comforting?

    I think some commenters are a little too judgmental and need to stop and think that maybe you don’t know all of the facts before attacking someone’s idea.

  26. Zed says

    I agree with Nancy. My babies (3 of them) rarely cried during vaccinations, and they also adored their car seats because they slept in them.

    So this is the perfect hack for me when my 4th comes along in August. Thank you, Rabia!

  27. Paul says

    Don’t kid yourselves, vaccines are drugs produced by BigPharma, just like any other drug. They are accountable to the shareholders not your health. They never produce anything dangerous, oh wait Vioxx and the list goes on. And your doctors never have enough time to actually read the research they just prescribe, remember the snazzy trips they used to get sent on by drug reps!!!!
    Wonder how much the drug companies make on vaccines? probably not very much.

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  30. Becki says

    Why in the world would anybody give their child a vaccination – in a car seat or otherwise. Stop subjecting your children to pharmaceutical-company tests!