Healthy full-term babies don't undergo as many procedures as preemies, but most have their fair share. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to lessen discomfort, says M. Terese Verklan, Ph.D., a neonatal clinical nurse specialist at the University of Texas Health Science Center's School of Nursing, in Houston. Some proven pain-easers:
- Sucking on a pacifier, bottle, or breast during or immediately after a procedure, such as a vaccination.
- Skin-to-skin contact: holding your baby's bare body against your own.
- Lidocaine: an over-the-counter numbing cream (such as EMLA) that's rubbed directly on skin. It takes 60 to 90 minutes to "set in" but can prevent pain during shots.
- Subcutaneous ring block: Lidocaine injected under the skin before circumcision. Request it, says Verklan.
- Acetaminophen after any procedure may help stave off pain -- if the doctor says it's okay.