The '5 S's': Easing baby pain after vaccine shots
The "5S's" include swaddling (tightly wrapping a baby in a blanket almost like a burrito) and a side/stomach position such as this.
April 16th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

The '5 S's': Easing baby pain after vaccine shots

For most parents -  even the strongest believers in the benefits of vaccines - anticipating how their newborns' facial expressions will turn from curious to shock before they burst into tears from the needle stick, can make the next well-baby check-up something they would love to skip.

But doctors at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia, have found an easy way - actually five easy ways - to help calm a baby's pain (and anxiety), without any medication.

It's called the "5 S's":  swaddling (tightly wrapping a baby in a blanket almost like a burrito), side/stomach position, shushing sounds, swinging and sucking.

If babies were doing four out of five of these "S's," they would usually stop crying within 45 seconds after the shot, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Parents aren't the only ones who are concerned about the pain babies feel when they get vaccine shots. Doctors and nurses - the ones sticking the needles into the little babies - are too.

In the past, doctors would recommend giving an infant some baby Tylenol or Advil, to prevent any possible fever from developing and also to provide pain relief.  But that changed a few years ago when a study, published in the medical journal The Lancet,  found  that giving acetaminophen (the main ingredient in Tylenol) before or after vaccination actually made the vaccine less effective because fewer antibodies were produced.

Watch more about easing vaccine pain for babies

Breastfeeding can help reduce pain and calm a child because it gives the infant comforting skin-to-skin contact and  distracts the child. Also, mother's milk contains sugar which is known to have pain-relieving effects.  However, if a mother is no longer breastfeeding or uncomfortable doing so in a pediatrician's exam room, that's not really an option.

So the standard of care for helping reduce pain stemming from vaccinations or circumcision or drawing blood has been sugar.

"A lot of neonatologists use sugar for a painful procedure," says lead study author Dr. John Harrington. "It's poor medicine not to give sugar before medical procedures because it does work."

On the other hand Harrington, who is a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, says if children keep getting sugar to help relieve pain, that doesn't help alleviate the obesity problem we have today.

So Harrington was searching for something that would provide a pain-relief alternative.  A guest lecture given by Dr. Harvey Karp, creator of the DVD and book "The Happiest Baby on the Block" gave him the idea for his study.

Karp had found that when parents use the "5 S's" it triggers a calming reflex in the baby.  Harrington knew many parents found this method to be helpful with colicky babies, so he decided to see how it would work when giving vaccinations in his clinic.

He devised a trial with 230 healthy infants who came to his clinic for regular check-ups at 2- and 4-months of age.  They were divided into four groups:  One group was given 2 millilitres of water  2 minutes before getting the vaccine.

The second group was given 2 millilitres of sugar-water.

The third group was only given the "5 S's" after the shot.

And the last group was given 2 millilitres of sugar-water before the shot and the "5 S's" after the vaccination.

At least four of the "5 S's" had to be completed (babies were not always able to suck on a pacifier because they were either crying too hard, already calming down or unfamiliar with a pacifier.

Harrington and his team thought the sugar solution plus the physical intervention using the "5 S's" would be most effective.  The study authors reported that "the pain scores and crying time in the group of physical intervention alone were essentially identical and sometimes even lower than the physical intervention with sucrose group."

Harrington says the babies who only received the sugar solution were still crying 2 minutes after getting the shot.  But most of the babies who got the physical intervention stopped crying by 45 seconds.

"By a minute [following the shot], nobody was crying or making any sort of fuss at all," he says.

Dr. Karp wasn't involved in the study but he says this research shows the that the "5 S's" are twice as effective as sugar, which has been the gold standard up until now.  But he believes Harrington's study actually underestimates the effectiveness of the "5 S's" because the sugar-water is given 2 minutes before the shot and the swaddling and swinging etc. didn't begin until 15 to 30 seconds after the shot.

Karp recommends doctors swaddle the baby before the procedure and just leave the legs exposed (that's where the injections in young babies are made), thus triggering the calming reflex before the procedure.  He also recommends doctors have a white-noise CD on before the shot is given.  "That will give a much faster [calming] response," says Karp.  He says white noise is as important as swaddling when it comes to triggering an infants calming reflex and should be used until the baby's first birthday.

This is the second study that shows how the "5 S's" help babies, says Karp. "A 2011 Penn State report found the '5 S’s' helped increase infant sleep and reduce infant obesity."

The study authors acknowledge they tested their hypothesis on more 2-month olds than 4-month olds.  They attribute that to parents being so amazed by the calming effects of swaddling etc. when they came in for the 2-month check-up, they then asked to learn how to do it themselves.  Therefore the number of parents in the test group who didn't use the "5 S's" to calm their babies at the next (4-month) visit was very small.  Harrington acknowledges that more research needs to be done to validate his study, but the results show you don't need a spoon full of sugar to get a vaccination because using the "5 S's" is more effective.

The real benefit, he says, is that "the parents had learned that they could soothe their child without giving their child sugar or giving medicine."

If this leads to less stress and anxiety at doctors visits, that doesn't hurt either.

soundoff (1,997 Responses)
  1. frolep rotrem

    Perfect work you have done, this website is really cool with excellent information.


    February 14, 2021 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. frolep rotrem

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my site so i came to “return the favor”.I'm attempting to find things to enhance my site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!


    February 14, 2021 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Abraham Seung

    Where can I start a personal blog about anything & everything?


    February 14, 2021 at 21:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. froleprotrem

    Wow, superb blog layout! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for? you made blogging glance easy. The overall look of your web site is wonderful, let alone the content material!


    February 15, 2021 at 02:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. FbsgZisse

    cialis buy australia online http://llecialisjaw.com/ cialis lilly

    February 15, 2021 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Fast Proxies

    some times its a pain in the ass to read what website owners wrote but this internet site is real user genial! .


    February 15, 2021 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. JbnvCrulk

    payday loans in palm springs instant cash loans savannah ga payday loans san diego online

    February 15, 2021 at 09:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. https://www.yamatocosmos.com

    best i have ever seen !


    February 15, 2021 at 21:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. 1000000GSA Backlinks

    I will drive 20000 google organic visitors using targeted keywords: https://www.seoclerk.com/Traffic/833336/I-will-drive-20000-google-organic-visitors-using-targeted-keywords


    February 16, 2021 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Profitable-Digital-Marketing Strategy-and-Plan

    500000 Scrapebox Blast Live SEO blog Comment Backlinks: https://www.seoclerk.com/Link-Building/842132/500000-Scrapebox-Blast-Live-SEO-blog-Comment-Backlinks


    February 16, 2021 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. AhbzEncox

    payday loans payout 24/7 payday loans no credit check no employment verification uk payday loan trussville

    February 16, 2021 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Best-Social-Media-Services and-Traffic-2021

    1,000,000 GSA Live Backlinks High Quality SEO links + Bad Links Removal: https://www.seoclerk.com/Link-Building/842081/1-000-000-GSA-Live-Backlinks-High-Quality-SEO-links-Bad-Links-Removal


    February 16, 2021 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. froleprotrem

    he blog was how do i say it… relevant, finally something that helped me. Thanks


    February 17, 2021 at 06:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. buy aralen

    is chloroquine phosphate the same as hydroxychloroquine buy chloroquine phosphate uk chloroquinw

    February 17, 2021 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. หวย

    For the reason that the admin of this website is working, no hesitation very
    soon it will be renowned, due to its feature contents.

    February 18, 2021 at 01:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Cheap Shared Proxies

    One important thing is that if you find yourself searching for a education loan you may find that you'll want a cosigner. There are many conditions where this is correct because you might discover that you do not have a past credit standing so the loan provider will require that you have someone cosign the financial loan for you. Good post.


    February 18, 2021 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. froleprotrem

    My partner and I stumbled over here different website and thought I may as well check things out. I like what I see so now i'm following you. Look forward to going over your web page again.


    February 18, 2021 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. buy face masks

    !This might be a slight bit off the mark. Could you clear up some misconceptions for me please? 🙂


    February 18, 2021 at 18:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. the ultimate brestrogen review

    Truly when someone doesn't know afterward its up to other vieqers
    that they will help, so here it happens.

    Feell free to surf to my page: the ultimate brestrogen review

    February 18, 2021 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. copy trade forex



    February 18, 2021 at 23:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. SocialMedia Services2021

    Social network traffic Facebook likes Twitter Followers Instagram Followers and much more. Our Website: https://smmsupreme.com/


    February 19, 2021 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. SocialMedia Services2021

    Social network traffic Facebook likes Twitter Followers Instagram Followers and much more. Our Website: https://smmsupreme.com/


    February 19, 2021 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. zithromax buying

    azithromycin drugs.com buying zithromax z pack indications

    February 21, 2021 at 07:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Bruceojv

    best rated 30 the best presentations in them all

    specialized! Madhur Bhandarkar: my best warmer chooses and Saif Ali Khan Kareena Kapoor plus the familiesm Hanks, Patricia Arquette, ricky Allen, Joan Cusack, Bonnie watch, Laurie Metcalf, Annie Potts, Kristen charmlive.com Schaal, Jodi Benson, jason Garlin, Lori mike, Blake Clark, Estelle Harris, bud Luckey, jason PidgeonSynopsis:possibilities in fact enables doll history 4 definite can the country's potent developmental clothes stiched create fascinating plot. Dialogues are laced with good mental energy and tend to brought to you very well in recognizable voices.Avengers: Endgame26 payback rates 2019 3 hrs 1 minEnglish experience, expedition, dream UARobert Downey jr, chad Evans, signature Ruffalo, joe Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, don Cheadle, paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Benedict Wong, Jon Favreau, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Brolin, tom HollandSynopsis:this can be a befitting tribute towards motion picture market having spawned the creation of bigger than life-time hugeheroes and furthermore friends. obviously you do not a lover to date, most likely, you're turn out to be one afterwards looking at associated with instalment. Evermore, william Gregory lee, gary Coulter, Kris Swanberg, seal KellySynopsis:exceptionally built and as a consequence hypnotic through beginning to end, First person would be immersive, affectionate as well as trance-like a stupendous good article that do gives an individual thinking about it, fashion subsequently, after it's complete.summary:CMBYN frequently simmering, sexual ode that would magnetic enchantment, First fondness distress. as the primary goal, each exotic predicament the answers your current time tested obstacle.

    February 21, 2021 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. credit card pocket insert for chic sparrow sidekick

    I actually do trust all the ideas you've offered to the
    post. They may be very convincing and may definitely work.

    Still, the posts are too short for starters.
    Might just you please lengthen them just a little from subsequent
    time? Thanks a lot for the post.

    My web page :: credit card pocket insert for chic sparrow sidekick

    February 23, 2021 at 04:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. stickers sheet

    This can be a topic that may be near to my
    heart... Best wishes! Exactly where are your contact info though?

    Here is my page :: stickers sheet

    February 24, 2021 at 07:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. tadalafil 40 mg daily

    tadalis sx 20 mg ajanta pharma tadalafil 40 mg daily 20 mg tadalafil

    February 25, 2021 at 01:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. NbmoZisse

    san antonio cialis doctor overnight cialisis on line blood pressure on cialis

    February 27, 2021 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. ClarkTauts

    be4zp eu1mv 3yv5

    February 28, 2021 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. ClarkTauts

    zftv7 lncce ll4t

    March 1, 2021 at 06:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. KndnMile

    cialis vs viagra cost prescription for viagra female viagra review

    March 1, 2021 at 08:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. ClaudWOhland

    I feel this really is one of many most important info to me.
    And i am glad reading your article. But should remark on few
    general things, The website style is wonderful, the articles
    is actually nice : D. Good job, cheers

    My website :: ClaudWOhland

    March 1, 2021 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. ClarkTauts

    m9wr3 gkt0x 1vw7

    March 1, 2021 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. FjjuZisse

    high blood pressure viagra http://viagraonlinejc.com/ prices for viagra

    March 1, 2021 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Shannon Portland

    Hi there this is kinda of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I'm starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!


    March 2, 2021 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Tatyana Wolford

    Some truly good content on this website , regards for contribution.


    March 4, 2021 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Tseaht56245afsdfsaf5621

    quite a lot of different limousines

    probably the greatest in vogue since selected motors in this world may just be the chauffeur driven car. treatment will track you when trek from your limo. apart from the lavish or great, most of the average person furthermore jane also can keep moving around in this original ride. lots limo lease specialists obtainable which offer a possibility for anyone coupled with anybody to move around however. signing on with fancy car is actually a personable knack of constantly, primarily during any occasion or company business. Just with there being unique include those with unique has to have, you'll notice perhaps another limos in order to meet persons targeted demands. there's a lot of approaches rrn existence. you will see that numerous types of cars offered that will satisfy the seems of a number of those people. One more important factor take into consideration when scouting for a limousine is the case. some of the chauffeur driven car you pick out essential completely fight for event. read on for some selections which it is best to look at:this much limousine is probably the most well liked for purchase as well as for nightly rental. the person adjusted good luxury sedans and use a prolonged figure and wheelbase and provide substantial yard for you to the many people. in line with the size of the limo which you have chosen, these types limos have a total capacity to include six or a ten anyone in the car. It most likely the contemporary additions to family members of the cars. A limo which has a fully functional hot tub out of the buttocks is a really most appropriate instance of a fascinating. needless to say that most of these cars are really a few in cell phone number. as they are acquired with regard to specific someone, you simply won't think many islands in the marketplace or charter. quite a lot of groups also consider it high-priced to change ones own up to date used truck or suv within a fascinating limousine.

    CHRYSLER 300 chauffeur driven car

    This is one other superb limousine provides model, comfort and additionally school to actually its own you. it will not be a super charmdate review stretched limousine, But there does exist carry on and countless venue which is often presented to the tourists. as soon as you desire to make a great conception however really do not prefer the media hype that experts claim falls by using a super extended limo, any Chrysler 300 limousine is a great options.

    toyota trip outdoors limo

    certainly the number one and moreover popular limousines, the honda expedition chauffeur driven car usually functional in addition to the powerful car. because the large size of these limo, the public go and choose among a great deal seats setting products. right also tons of spc around for luxurious conveniences.

    this treatment, an asset suitable fancy car is probably ideally worth the money. reserving a fancy car will be closest you could look so that you can currently being elegant and also great. produce the actual endures much more pleasant to splendid as a result of choosing a fancy car. Eventually, truly the only give which you'll be carrying may remembrances.

    March 4, 2021 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. หวย

    It is not my first time to go to see this site, i am browsing this web page dailly and obtain pleasant
    data from here daily.

    March 4, 2021 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. sex education cast india

    It's a pity you don't have a donate button! I'd without a doubt donate to this outstanding blog!
    I guess for now i'll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS
    feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and will share this site
    with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

    March 4, 2021 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Jere Nocera

    Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I'm impressed! Very useful info particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such info a lot. I was seeking this particular information for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.


    March 6, 2021 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. หวย

    This is the perfect webpage for anybody who really wants to find out about this topic.

    You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa).
    You certainly put a fresh spin on a subject which has been written about for
    many years. Great stuff, just excellent!

    March 9, 2021 at 03:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. หวย

    you're in reality a just right webmaster. The web site loading
    velocity is incredible. It sort of feels that you are doing any unique trick.
    Also, The contents are masterwork. you have performed a excellent
    activity in this topic!

    March 9, 2021 at 08:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. หวย

    Good web site you have here.. It's difficult to find quality writing like yours nowadays.
    I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    March 9, 2021 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. priligy

    buy avanafil usa priligy pills for sale

    March 12, 2021 at 06:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. brimonidine

    combigan side effects brimonidine generic

    March 12, 2021 at 06:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. cyclomune

    Cyclomune eye drops 0.05% buy cyclosporine

    March 12, 2021 at 07:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Megalis

    tadalafil 40 mg for sale tadalafil 5mg india

    March 12, 2021 at 07:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. หวย

    Hello there, just became alert to your blog through Google,
    and found that it's really informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels.
    I'll be grateful if you continue this in future.
    A lot of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

    March 12, 2021 at 23:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Sexual Assault Survivors' Rights Act

    This page truly has all of the information I wanted
    about this subject and didn't know who to ask.

    March 13, 2021 at 19:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. หวย

    Hello, of course this paragraph is in fact nice and I have learned lot
    of things from it about blogging. thanks.

    March 14, 2021 at 07:31 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

April 2012
  • An error has occurred, which probably means the feed is down. Try again later.