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Using the 5S Technique to Calm Babies after a Shot1

Carol Church2

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No one really enjoys the moment when the pediatric nurse brings out what always looks like a giant needle for a child’s shots. While babies certainly cry, sometimes it’s hardest on mom and dad. In fact, worries over children’s pain are the main reason parents delay needed vaccinations (Harrington et al., 2012).

In hopes of finding some new and nonmedical ways to make this experience easier, researchers writing in the journal Pediatrics recently experimented with some new post-immunization baby-soothing techniques. Pediatric residents were trained in a technique known as the “5 S’s”: swaddling, side/stomach position, sucking, shushing, and swinging. After babies in the study got their shots, some were calmed as they normally would have been by their parents, while others were swaddled, given a pacifier, and held by a medical resident who shushed and gently swung them. In addition, half the babies were given a sugar water solution, while half got plain water (Harrington et al., 2012).

Babies who got the “5 S” treatment cried significantly less and calmed down faster than babies who were comforted in the usual way. Though the sugar solution helped babies who did not get the 5 S treatment, it actually didn’t make much difference to the babies who did, suggesting that the physical techniques made the sugar water unnecessary (Harrington et al., 2012).

This simple method appears to be an effective way to calm distressed babies after a shot. Training nurses, doctors, and parents in this method might help parents feel more at ease with vaccinations, potentially improving immunization rates.

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Harrington, J. W., Logan, S., Harwell, C., Gardner, J., Swingle, J., McGuire, E., & Santos, R. (2012). Effective analgesia using physical interventions for infant immunizations. Pediatrics. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-1607



This document is FAR0444, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original broadcast date April 30, 2012, as program 1926. Published on EDIS April 2013. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Carol Church, writer, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.