How to Give a Subcutaneous Injection to Your Child
Needles and syringes
Alcohol swabs or gauze
Vial with the drug solution
Sharps® container (Health Facts for You #4587)
Before you begin:
Wash hands well with soap and water. Gather the supplies for the injection and place them on a clean, dry surface.
Note: If your syringe is already drawn up, skip steps 2-6.
1. Screw a needle on the syringe hub.
2. Vial: Flip off the plastic top. Use an alcohol swab and wipe the rubber
3. Take the cover off the needle. To draw air into the syringe, pull the plunger
back to the desired volume, __________ mL. ( See picture A)
Put the needle straight into the vial through the rubber stopper.
Inject air into the bottle by pushing down on the plunger.
(See picture B).
4. Using one hand, turn the vial with the syringe upside down. Be sure the
needle is in the bottle and below the fluid level. Pull the plunger back to the
correct mark, _________ mL. (See picture C)
5. Check for air bubbles in the syringe. You can remove bubbles by
flicking the syringe with your finger.
If the air bubble is at the top of the syringe, push gently on the
plunger so the air goes back into the bottle. Before you remove the
needle, be sure you have the proper volume in the syringe.
6. Remove the needle from the vial. It is OK to put the cover
on the needle for a moment. Be very careful not to stick
yourself. Never place the syringe on your work surface
unless you put the cap on the needle.
Find your injection site
You will inject into the fatty tissue. Please change the injection sites as taught by your nurse or health care provider. This is called “rotation” and it helps give the different sites a break from getting injections.
Arms: Use the back of the arm to make sure you inject into the fatty tissue. This can be hard to do on your own.
Thighs: use middle and outer areas where you can pinch up tissue.
Abdomen: Do not use the area within one-inch around your child’s navel. Avoid the belt-line area as rubbing may irritate the injection site. Avoid scars from surgery.
Buttocks: try to give injection as close to the X, in the shaded
areas, in any tissue you can pinch. These sites are usually
used for babies but can be used for any age group.
Steps to give the injection
1. Wash your hands again with soap and water. Clean the skin where you will
give the shot. You may use soap and water or an alcohol pad. Let the skin
dry. Make sure you can clearly see where you will give the shot. Avoid any
scars, bruises, or swollen areas.
2. Pull the cap firmly and straight off of the needle to avoid poking yourself.
Keep the needle sterile once you have removed the cap; do not set the
needle down or touch it. With the hand you use for writing, hold the syringe
like a pencil or a dart.
3. With the other hand, gently pinch the cleaned skin between your thumb and
fingers to make a fold in the skin. Be sure to hold the skin fold until the
injection is done.
4. Insert the needle into the skin fold, holding the syringe at a 90° angle. (If
there is very little fatty tissue, you may inject at a 45° angle. * Ask your
health care team what is best for your child.)
5. Reach up with your pointer finger and press the plunger down until all of the
medicine has been pushed into the fatty tissue.
6. Remove the needle by gently and quickly pulling it out and away from the
skin fold. You can now let go of the skin fold. Do not rub the site after
you are finished. Rubbing may bruise the site or change how the medicine
7. Drop the used syringe or pen needle - needle first - into the “Sharps Box” or
other hard plastic container. Close the lid and move the box out of the reach
Tips for parents about how to help your child through injections
Timing: Develop a routine and stick to it. Include your child in the planning. Who will be present? Where will you do the injections? A safe and comfortable spot in the home is most important, a favorite chair, laying in bed or sitting in someone’s lap. What comfort item does your child want during the injection? How will you praise your child after he receives his injection? Will it be a sticker? Will it be a hug? Will it be some screen time?
Pain control ideas: Numbing cream is sold over the counter in most pharmacies. While it numbs the skin, it may not fully take care of pain that is felt under the skin. It also takes at least 20 minutes for it to be effective, which may be hard for some children to wait. Ice can help numb the skin area just before the shot. Buzzy Bee is a vibrating tool that can be ordered online through the website, www.buzzy4shots.com. Buzzy stimulates the skin to distract from painful procedures like injections.
Other distraction ideas: Playing favorite music, using deep breathing, squeezing a ball and/or playing a TV show or movie during the injection may also soothe children. With practice, you will find what is right for you and your child.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 01/17/2013
Copyright © 01/17/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7454
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