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Baby's first shots

Now that your baby is two months old, it’s time for her to begin receiving immunizations (also known as “vaccinations”) to protect her from serious childhood illnesses. In fact, many childhood vaccinations offer lifelong protection against certain illnesses.

While needles can be unpleasant for baby, it would be much worse for her to suffer through a dangerous illness. Health professionals stress that the benefits of immunization far outweigh the side effects.

Here’s what you need to know before your child’s first needle.

Common side effects

Common side effects of immunizations include fever and/or swelling and tenderness at the injection site. Parents can apply a topical anesthetic to the needle site an hour before the injection—just ask your healthcare professional ahead of time where the injection will go.

Holding your infant can also reduce the sting of the shot, according to a recent study. Babies who were held cried less and for a shorter time than those placed on an examining table to get their needles. You could also try distracting your baby by singing to her or giving her a pacifier.

Careful screening is the key to safe immunization. If you’re worried about adverse reactions, or if your baby has been unwell, discuss your concerns with your doctor.

What needles and when?

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, it’s important to make sure your baby gets his immunizations at the correct time for optimum benefits. If you miss a scheduled vaccination, re-book it as soon as possible.

Here’s a list of what your baby will receive with her first vaccines—and a look at what’s to come in the months ahead.

Age: 2 months

Vaccines:

  • 5-in-1 (diptheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Hib disease)
  • *PC (literally stands for “Pneumococcal conjugate” and offers protection against pneumonia and some ear infections)

Age: 4 months 

Vaccines:

  • 5-in-1
  • *PC

Age: 6 months

Vaccines:

  • 5-in-1
  • **flu

Age: 12 months

Vaccine:

  • MC (Meningococcal C conjugate: protects against meningitis)
  • *PC
  • MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
  • Chickenpox

Age: 18 months

  • 5-in-1
  • MMR

*Health Canada and the Canadian PaediatricSociety now recommend that all children receive these vaccines, however the cost is not covered under all provincial healthcare programs. Consult with your doctor.

** the flu vaccine is recommended between six and 23 months during the flu season