What to expect after your baby’s vaccinations

No parent likes to see their baby in pain, but vaccines are essential to keep them protected from serious diseases, like polio, whooping cough, and measles. Just like any medication, your baby may experience some side effects afterwards. Most of the time, these reactions are mild and usually last one or two days. They can happen straight away or take a few days to show up.

However, parents can be prepared to ease and relieve any side effects, making the process more comfortable for your baby (and less anxiety-inducing for you!).

Let’s look at what side effects you could expect after your baby’s vaccinations, and how you can help to manage them.

What are the side effects for babies after immunisation?

The common, mild, and normal side effects of immunisation are:

  • Redness, tenderness, and a slight swelling at the injection site
  • Fussiness
  • Sleepy or trouble sleeping
  • Low-grade fever (see what’s a normal temperature for your baby here)
  • Slight loss of appetite

The more serious and rare side effects include:

  • Febrile convulsions – as a response to the fever, particularly if it rises quickly; it usually has no lasting effects.
  • Anaphylactic reaction – which is immediate, with the risk in only 1 in a million; it is reversible if treated quickly.
  • Bowel blockage – may occur in the 7 days following the first and second dose of rotavirus vaccine, and is only seen in 1 in 17,000 babies.

How can I help to manage the side effects?

Here are the best tactics to soothe your baby after vaccinations:

  1. Give your baby extra fluids – feed on demand, offer extra bottles.
  2. Check your baby’s temperature regularly – see a doctor immediately if your baby is under 3 months and develops a fever.
  3. Put a wet cloth on the injection site –  this will help to ease the discomfort.
  4. Paracetamol can be given to babies over one month old – if pain or fever are present (check the label for the correct dosage, or speak to your pharmacist first).
  5. Do not overdress your baby – if they’re feeling warm or have a fever, remove some layers.
  6. Give your baby plenty of cuddles – Your baby may be very clingy, unsettled, or fussy, and will require plenty of comfort and reassurance.
  7. Let them sleep – you might need to forget about the nap routine for a day or two, and allow them to sleep whenever they’re looking tired. You can get back on track when they’re feeling better.

When should I take my baby to see a doctor?

If you think your baby is having serious side effects from their vaccines, is crying inconsolably for more than 2-3 hours, has had a seizure, or has swelling of the face, see your GP or head to your nearest emergency department immediately. Nurse on Call is also available 24 hours a day to help you in the middle of the night if needed. Please check your individual state for number

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