Starting IVs on Children: Insider Advice from Pediatric Nurses

Part of the IV Therapy For Dummies Cheat Sheet

IV therapy in children presents many challenges. As a pediatric IV nurse, you have to deal with squirming infants, anxious parents, chubby extremities, and smaller veins. To start off on the right foot, use the following tips to involve the patient and his parents before you even begin the infusion:

  • Use hands-on teaching tools to show the steps of starting an IV and encourage your patient to feel the soft catheter that will go inside his vein.

  • Be honest and tell your patient that the procedure will hurt for about the count of 50.

  • Ask your patient's parents to distract him with videos, games, or comfort items.

  • For infants, use sucrose water or pacifiers for distraction.

To make starting IVs on children a little easier, try using the following helpful techniques:

  • Illuminate veins in chubby extremities with approved fiber-optic or infrared light sources.

  • Use anesthetic creams, such as EMLA, to reduce pain, and use vasodilating agents, such as warm compresses, to help distend local blood vessels.

  • When possible, practice starting your first IVs on older children and then make your way to younger kids as you get more experience.

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