Preparing Your Child for Lab Testing

Children may be fearful of needles and having their blood drawn; creating a stressful situation for their parents. Read the tips below which might help reduce a child's apprehension and the stress for the parent.
It may be tempting to pretend you're headed to the grocery store or the park, but taking a straightforward, honest approach to scheduled blood work can help your child feel prepared and in control of the situation.

  1. Tell your child he/she will need blood work a day or two before the appointment. Calmly explain what will happen, such as "A person from the lab will put a needle in your arm, and it will hurt for a minute or two." Answer any questions being careful not to scare your child, basing the explanation on the age of the child.
  2. Choose a time for testing when your child is unlikely to be tired or hungry.
  3. Practice at home beforehand. Before a blood draw you could say, “Show me how you stay still. Now show me how your wiggle. Now be still again.” Or ask them to try and stay still while you count to ten.
  4. Explain why the blood work is necessary. Tell your child the body has a lot of blood, the lab will only take a little, and your child won’t feel any different afterwards.
  5. During a blood draw, help get your child’s mind off the procedure by occupying her with a book or special toy.
  6. Providing a urine sample is easier with a full bladder. Encourage your child to have a drink before coming to the lab. The sound of running water can also help your child urinate. Drinking water before a blood draw will also help make that process easier.
  7. Congratulate your child after the blood work -- no matter how upset or scared he/she was. With these tips you should be better able to make a necessary procedure less scary and feel confident that you’re doing everything to ensure that your child’s health is being carefully monitored.

In some situations you may not know that lab work is necessary until after visiting with the provider, and advance preparation may not be possible.