Even toddlers who only have to go to regular well-baby appointments may suddenly develop an intense fear of the pediatrician. And this fear can present an even greater problem if your child needs more regular visits to a doctor’s office or hospital. Here are a few products I’ve been using to alleviate doctor-phobia.
Medical Set: HABA makes a beautiful metal and wooden doctor’s kit ($24.95 at Oompa Toys), but it does not include a pressure cuff (sphygomometer) or a stethoscope, my toddler’s main triggers. So, I bought her this Battat Medical Set ($15.95). I decided to go with Battat because they make quality, phthalate-free toys and have not had any recalls for lead paint. Because we purchased our set from eBeanstalk, we also received a card with suggestions about how to play with the set. I use the set to listen to her heart and she listens to mine. Then she gives her dolls and plush animals check ups. It is as adorable as it is helpful.
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Doctor Puppet: Of course, examining mama and your favorite teddy bear is one thing. Having a doctor examine you is another. So, to get her used to the doctor, we bought this Melissa & Doug surgeon puppet ($14.71). We act out doctor’s visits and now my toddler actually refers to the doctor as her “friend” who gives her “medicine” to help her feel “better.”
Doctor’s Office Visit Books:
Reading young children process and better understand new experiences in a non-threatening way. As you read, talk about the pictures and add in your child’s name and your doctor’s name. Repeat readings will provide your child with a point of reference and reassure them that going to the doctor’s office is a normal and necessary part of life.
- Time to See the Doctor (First-Time Stories)
- My Friend the Doctor
- What to Expect When You Go to the Doctor (What to Expect Kids)
- Does a Hippo Say Ahh? (Early Experiences)
- Talk about what will happen at the doctor’s office and answer concerns in an honest and age-appropriate way. Older children may also understand a brief discussion of why the visit is necessary.
- See if your child can meet a new doctor before beginning the examination.
- Bring a special game or toy that you use only for office visits (ours is the “Art to Go Roll” folio with crayons and drawing pad).
- Allow your child to choose whether or not to sit on your lap, hold your hand, keep eyes open or shut (except during eye exams, of course), etc. Offering some appropriate choice may help your child feel more in control of the situation.
- Offer to go to a special fun place or restaurant after visits, or bring along a yummy treat.