A Guide to Giving Insulin Shots to Children
Raising children is not for the meek – just ask any parent. But helping kids grow up happy and healthy is also what matters most to any parent, and for those with a young child who has Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, that means being a little extra vigilant and taking on some incredibly important responsibilities.
Type 1 diabetes usually develops in childhood or the early teen years, but can even occur in babies, usually 6 months or older. Type 2 diabetes in children is on an alarming climb in the United States with more and more kids being diagnosed each year.
As a parent of a child with diabetes, your top priority is your child’s health, and this often means making sure your child and family follow a doctor-prescribed diabetes health and treatment plan. For those with Type 1 diabetes, this always includes administering insulin. For those with Type 2 diabetes, it can often require the need for medication.
In this post, we’ll look at insulin injections for children and offer up a few pointers that might make it easier on both of you. While injections are certainly no fun for kids or parents, if properly managed they can quickly turn from a daily challenge to a relatively routine part of life. Now, there are also alternatives to syringes and insulin pens that might be right for your child.
Blood Sugar Monitoring
Before we get into kids and insulin injections, it’s important to note that more and more families are finding insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring CGM devices to be better ways to treat and manage their child’s diabetes.
CGM devices eliminate the need for finger pricks – another not-so-popular part of diabetes management among kids – by offering real-time blood sugar testing using a sensor that only needs to be applied once every few days. Pumps eliminate the need for daily insulin injections by delivering insulin throughout the day via a computerized device that slips around the waist or attaches to a belt.
Pumps and CGM devices must be prescribed by a physician, and they are more costly than conventional testing using a glucose meter and insulin injections by syringe or pen. However, these devices have also proven to be family friendly solutions that might be worth a discussion with your diabetes physician and care team.
Insulin Injections and Children - 7 Helpful Tips
For families who still manage diabetes and insulin treatments using either a syringe or insulin pen, there are some ways to make it easier and eliminate much of the apprehension and discomfort associated with injections. Here are a few tips.
Involve your child in the process. Even if your child is too young to perform a self-injection, you can make them part of the routine by inviting them to gather supplies, read the results of a glucose test, choose a spot for injection, swab the area in preparation, even depress the plunger of the syringe if they’re safely able to do it. When kids feel more involved, they feel more in control, and this can alleviate some of the fear that understandably comes with injections.
Switch up injection sites. Kids are sensitive to pain and injecting the same spot each day can cause areas to become very tender. So, switch it up. Inject in the upper buttocks one day, in the abdomen on another, in the arm on another. In fact, ask your child to choose a site. Once again, involving them in the decision-making process can lessen that anxiety.
Be prepared. Have all your supplies ready to go. The last thing a child needs is for a parent to be rushing around looking for things they’ve forgotten. Kids feed off a parent’s energy. If you seem a bit frantic, your child will pick up on it.
Inject room temperature insulin. While it’s important to store unopened insulin in the refrigerator, insulin that has been opened for use can remain at room temperature. Or, if you’re more comfortable storing opened insulin in the fridge, let it warm up outside the fridge for about 20 minutes before injecting. Room temperature insulin makes for a more comfortable injection than chilled insulin.
Find a distraction. It might be singing a song before each injection or hugging a stuffed animal or even watching a video on Mom’s phone. Some kids benefit from a diversion during an injection – before they know it, it’s over.
- Numb the area with ice. This can also become a routine. Rubbing ice at the injection site before inserting the needle can help numb the area and reduce discomfort.
- Be ready with a hug and praise. It’s no fun getting an injection. A hug afterward can go a long way. While doing it, remind your child that this is helping them stay healthy and that you’re very proud of how well they’re taking care of their diabetes.
How to properly give a child an injection by syringe
Here is a general guide to giving an insulin injection by syringe. Remember, before giving your child any treatment it is important to go over the specific process with your child’s diabetes physician.
- Gather all the supplies you’ll need – syringe, insulin vial, alcohol swabs, sharps container for the used syringe.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Dry completely.
- Remove the lid from the insulin bottle and wipe the rubber stopper with an alcohol swab.
- Remove the cap from the syringe.
- Pull air into the syringe by pulling back on the plunger until the tip is even with the line showing the dosage you desire.
- Push the syringe needle through the rubber stopper of the vial and depress the plunger to release the air into the vial.
- Turn the insulin vial upside down and slowly draw insulin into the syringe by gently pulling back on the plunger until the tip is even with the line showing your desired dosage.
- Gently pinch the skin at the injection site on your child. Hold the syringe at a 90-degree angle to the skin and push the needle all the way in.
- Release the pinched skin and slowly push the plunger to inject all the insulin into the tissue. Wait about 5 seconds and then remove the needle.
- Dispose of the used syringe in a sharps container and give your child a big hug or high-five or whatever reward works best.
Please remember this is a general guide for educational purposes only and specific guidance should be given by your child’s diabetes physician or care team prior to beginning insulin injections.
We hope you found this post informative and insightful. At Diabetic Warehouse, we’re committed to helping kids, families and individuals manage diabetes and control blood sugar more effectively and affordably.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.