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Preparing Your Child for an IV

On this page, you will find information to share with your child about getting an IV, written in terms Child Life Specialists believe children can easily understand.

What is an IV?

  • IV stands for "into the vein."
  • "It is a tiny straw (tube, catheter) that goes into the vein."
  • An IV can help give your body a drink of water or medicine.

Why it's important to have an IV

  • "The doctors need to give your body some medicine and the quickest way to get the medicine to your body is through the IV."
  • "Veins go all over your body and will be able to get the medicine to the place that is hurting really quickly." (You can point to the veins on your hand to show the child what a vein is.)
  • "Because you have been sick, your body needs some water and maybe some medicine to help you feel better."

Your job while having the IV placed

  • "You have a really important job when you get your IV, and that is to hold your arm/hand really still."

What happens when having an IV placed?

  • First, a nurse puts a tight rubber band (tourniquet) around your arm above your elbow or just above your hand. He/she is looking for the best vein for the IV.
  • Next, she uses something that looks like a q-tip with special cleaning medicine in it to clean the spot where she will put the IV.
  • Then, she gently slides the tiny straw into the vein. The straw does have a helper or a little tip (needle) that helps it go in, but once the straw is in the right spot, the helper comes out and only the straw stays in the vein.
  • Next, the nurse will place some tape on and around the IV to help to hold the IV in place. She might also tape a soft little pillow to your arm to help remind you to keep your hand or arm straight.

Things that can help when having an IV placed

  • Taking deep breaths, gentle blowing, or talking
  • Looking at a book, movie, or bubbles
  • Counting, singing, spelling, or playing a cognitive game
  • Watching or looking away
  • Discussing what will be helpful with your child ahead of time