There’s no way around it – at some point in your child’s life, they will need a blood test. While none of us enjoy having blood taken, for children the experience can be particularly frightening and stressful.

So, other than bribing them with a lollipop (which let’s face it – isn’t great for them and often doesn’t work!), here is a list of things you can do to prepare your child and make the experience as stress free as possible for them (and for you).

  • Tell your child what is going to happen – no one likes to be surprised by a blood test! The general rule of thumb is you should tell children under the age of 6 just before the procedure. For children over 6, it’s best to tell them two or three days before so they have time to process.
  • Be honest with your child. If they ask if it is going to hurt, you’re not doing them any favours by lying to them. Now I’m not saying you should tell them that it’s going to hurt a lot, but you can be gentle and say something like ‘it might hurt a little bit – some children say it does, but others aren’t bothered’.
  • Ask a GP or nurse to explain to your child why they are having a blood test, how it will help them, what will happen and what it might feel like. Sometimes having someone else reinforce what a parent has already said can help to ease a child’s anxiety.
  • Sometimes it can help to arrange something to distract your child during their blood test. There are a variety of different options, depending on your child’s age.
  • Babies under six months might enjoy rocking, having a family member talk to or sing to them, a rattle or similar baby toy, breastfeeding during the test for babies who are breastfed.
    • For toddlers from six months up to about two years distractions can include blowing bubbles, toys or books that make noises, singing a song, or just reading a book.
    • For older children blowing bubbles can again be a great distraction (and can help to calm them and regulate their breathing), reading a book or a puzzle book (think Where’s Wally), talking about something they are looking forward to doing (their next holiday, school excursion, birthday party, etc.).
    • For adolescents distraction techniques can include listening to music or watching a video on their phone/iPad with headphones, letting them have choices of who is in the room or whether someone holds their hand or talks to them, etc., humor or taking about something unrelated to their blood test can be a great distraction.
  • During the blood test it is important that you stay with your child to support them. If you are not able to stay with them (no shame in being a bit squeamish with blood!), as a trusted friend or another family member that knows your child well to come with you.
  • Stay calm during the test and focus on distracting your child rather than what the blood collector is doing – if you are looking at them, your child will want to look too!
  • If you have an infant of younger child, hold them securely during the procedure. You can try wrapping a sheet or blanket around an especially wiggly child to make it easier to hold their limbs steady!
  • It’s ok for your child to cry during the procedure. We are all afraid of the unknown – hopefully the next time it will be easier.
  • Make sure you give your child lots of praise for cooperating and doing well.
  • If your child doesn’t need a fasting blood test, make sure they drink plenty of fluids (water, milk, breastmilk, formula, etc.) before attending for their appointment.
  • Make sure your child is nice and warm before attending – if it’s a cold day, keep them in plenty of warm layers until their test to help with their circulation and blood flow.
  • EMLA patches, which contain a local anaesthetic to numb the blood test site, may be an option if your child is very nervous. These are available at most major pharmacies without a prescription. We recommend placing one on the inside of each arm and waiting for one hour before going in for their test.
  • Find a collection centre with a specialist paediatric collector to ensure your child has the best possible experience.
  • If your child needs a blood test, we recommend contacting one of the following collection centres to discuss with them directly before attending for a collection:
Melbourne Pathology
Epping

Suite 8/230 Cooper Street, Epping 3076

Phone: 03 8401 4534

Collection centre instructions:

Please call in advance to discuss with centre.

Melbourne Pathology
East Melbourne

128 Grey Street, East Melbourne 3002

Phone: 03 9419 4310

Collection centre instructions:

Please call in advance to discuss with centre.

Melbourne Pathology
East Melbourne

111/320 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne 3002

Phone: 03 9419 0074

Collection centre instructions:

Paediatric collector available during collection centre hours.

Dorevitch Pathology
Bundoora

1 Oxley Avenue, Bundoora 3083

Phone: 03 9466 9045

Collection centre instructions:

Please call in advance to discuss with centre.

Melbourne Pathology
Templestowe Lower

Cnr Manningham Road and High Street,

Templestowe Lower 3107

Phone: 03 8850 0560

Collection centre instructions:

Please call in advance to discuss with centre.

Dorevitch Pathology
Coburg

John Fawkner Hospital

267 Moreland Road, Moreland 3058

Phone: 03 9386 5361

Collection centre instructions:

Please call in advance to discuss with centre.

Dorevitch Pathology
St Kilda East

Masada Private Hospital

26-28 Balaclava Road, St Kilda East 3183

Phone: 03 9527 8134

Collection centre instructions:

Please call in advance to discuss with centre.

Paediatric collection for babies up to eight months of age only.

RCH Pathology
Parkville

A6, Ground Floor, East Building, The Royal Children’s Hospital

50 Flemington Road, Parkville 3052

Phone: 03 9345 5821

Collection centre instructions:

Please phone to confirm, if an appointment is required.

Austin Pathology
Heidelberg

Austin Hospital, Harold Stokes Building

145 Studley Rd, Heidelberg 3084

Phone: 03 9496 5472

Collection centre instructions:

Please phone to confirm, if an appointment is required.

Austin Pathology
Bundoora

Bundoora Kidspath

7 Ormond Blvd, Bundoora 3083

Phone: 0434 940 781

Collection centre instructions:

Please phone prior to attending for collection.

For more information or advice CONTACT US to speak with our practice nurse or arrange an appointment with a paediatrician.