This is it-one of the moments you’ve been dreading since nursing school. Starting an IV on a child is terrifying. Other than reminding yourself that you are truly helping the patient rather than causing harm, there are some tips that can make your experiences more successful. Successful nurse equals happy patients! Here are 12 tips to get the ball rolling (instead of the vein).
1. When starting an IV on an infant, try soothing them beforehand with a pacifier. If mom wants to hold the baby, as if bottle/breastfeeding is okay while starting the line.
2. Hand veins in the nondominant hand are preferable for small children of walking age and infants.
3. The antecubital (AC) is also a good location for children, but an immobilizer board may be required to keep the line patent.
4. In neonates, scalp veins or veins in the feet are sometimes preferable and easier to access, especially in the cute chubby babies!
5. With preemies and small newborns, try advancing the catheter instead of the needle after the initial flashback of blood. Babies veins aren’t mature yet, and you may blow a vein by advancing the needle.
6. One nurse told me, “think of it like a TB skin test.” Stick almost flush with the skin when sticking neonates and newborns. Many times, their veins are close to the skin’s surface.
7. Use anesthetic creams or sprays for children.
8. When starting an IV on a toddler (ages 1-3), try singing, pacifiers or musical toys as a means of distraction. Hint: Itsy Bitsy Spider works wonders for my son and other kids, too, especially when accompanied with hand motions! Give it a shot.
9. With young children ages 4 and up, just be honest with them. Kids can comprehend more than you may think and, therefore, can see reason. Tell them that the procedure will hurt, but only for a minute. Assure them that they will not lose all of their blood. It also wouldn’t hurt to “bribe” the kid to hold still with stickers, toys, etc.
10. Avoid tourniquets if you can. Apply traction with your hands and utilize coworkers when available. The use of tourniquets increases your risk of blowing veins on children.
11. Having the patient dangle their arm off of the side of the bed or let it hang by their side prior to sticking will increasing blood flow to that extremity. Veins will be easier to feel and see.
12. Know when to stop. It’s not good patient care to repeatedly stick them 4 or 5 times blindly. Find someone else with more experience to try. Everyone had bad days.
These twelve basic steps will help ensure you have the best possible experience when sticking a pediatric or neonatal patient. Remember to always ask your fellow nurses for help when in doubt. Good luck, nurses!
Any additional tips and tricks for pediatric clients? Comment below!