Applied to the skin ahead of time, numbing cream can reduce or eliminate the pain of a needle poke.
If your baby is staying at one of our hospitals, our staff will provide and apply numbing cream. But if you take your little one in for a clinic or lab visit, you may need to buy and apply it yourself.
Safety note: Do not use numbing cream on a baby who was born prematurely. To find out what you can try instead, ask your baby's medical team.
What you'll need
- 4% lidocaine numbing cream, sold over the counter at pharmacies and drugstores or online.
- A "transparent film dressing" (a clear bandage with adhesive edges) to cover the numbing cream, sold over the counter at pharmacies and drugstores or online. Alternatively, you can simply use plastic wrap (cling wrap) to cover it.
How and when to apply it
Apply the cream 30 to 60 minutes before the procedure, and make note of the time you applied it. The numbing effect lasts one to two hours.
Ask your baby's medical team where to apply the cream. The location will vary depending on the type of needle procedure.
For example, for babies, vaccines are typically given in the upper thigh, blood is usually drawn from the inner crook of the elbow, and IVs are inserted in the forearm, wrist or back of the hand. For multiple procedures, you may be advised to put cream in more than one spot – such as two spots on each thigh.
Apply a dime-size spot if your baby weighs less than 22 pounds and a quarter-size spot if they weigh more. A thick layer of cream is usually best. Apply the dressing over the cream, and don't press on it.
Make sure the numbing cream doesn't get in your baby's mouth. You'll need to be extra vigilant if you've applied cream to their hand. Secure the clear dressing or plastic wrap with tape, if needed.
If any cream is left on your baby's skin after two hours, wipe it off.
Safety note: Keep numbing cream out of reach of children. If it gets in your baby's eyes, nose or mouth, rinse thoroughly and call their doctor.