When Toddlers & Doctors Don't Mix


toddler good doctor office visitAfter a particularly heinous doctor visit, I realized my toddler has got to get some new well-visit strategies. As in, he's got to stop kicking the doctor as I hold his arms and head so she can look in his mouth/ear/nose. THAT behavior is no longer cute.

Apparently I'm not alone, as misbehavior at the pediatrician's office is a frequent topic on parenting message boards. Fear of the doctor is common for the 1- to 2-year-old crowd, and I'm glad to know my son isn't the only big screamer in the lobby. However, we can't keep up this kind of intensity, as I fear he may get written up on assault charges.

I've dug up a few strategies that other toddler parents swear work in the doc's office. You can bet I'll be testing them out at his two-year appointment.

Appointment Time Can Make or Break 'Em

If you're not in an emergency situation, always ask for the first appointment of the day. That way you won't have an antsy toddler hanging out in the waiting room working himself into a lather. Just like my kid does.

New Toys

Apparently with some kids, you need to treat the doctor's office as you would a cross-country flight. According to this new study about the importance of play with kids, bringing along new toys to the doctor's office will help release your toddler's stress. No word on if it will help yours.

Books, Books, Books!

There are a lot of kid books that deal with doctor visits, presumably to take the mystery out of the visit. From Biscuit to the Berenstain Bears, there's a "look, it's a stethoscope!" book for your anxious little one. Even better if your doctor actually behaves like a sweet, patient doctor in a children's book.

Remember It's a Phase

Toddlers are kind of the worst when it comes to fearing doctors. Doctors, strangers, barbers ... really anybody. But know that in six months to a year, you'll have a chill pre-schooler on your hands. And you'll have big kid problems on your hands.

How do you keep your toddler calm in the doctor's office?


Image via Digital Sextant/Flickr

sick days, tantrums, toddler health


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bills... billsfan1104

UMMM, This is really a problem?? Damn I feel sorry for you guys. My kids didnt act like that at the doctors. Why dont you teach your kid to behave and that it is not acceptable to act that way, no matter the time of the day? And dont give me the excuse he is two. they know better.

Pishyah Pishyah

I encourage my children to protect themselves.  I don't ask them to act out at the doctor's office but if they're scared and they don't want to be touched then it is a natural reaction to fight.  I calmly talk to them, I tell them what the doctor will be doing next, etc.  Of course, my baby sees a doctor or nurse and breaks out screaming, period, and we don't do vaccines or well checks.  Your doctor could probably do with some new strategies, as well.  I'm sure they're not warming the children up before they dive in poking and prodding. 

Emily Keahey Baker

Well, billsfan, my child knows how to behave in situations like that and normally does.  When she was 19 months she had to have surgery and after that was a little gunshy around doctors.  Children sometimes have a legitimate fear and it's not a matter of misbehaving.  Since the surgery we talk about going to the doctor and that they're there to help and they have to do things like listen to your heart, look in your ears, etc.  Luckily I also have a very patient pediatrician and my daughter is very well behaved at the doctors now.   I suppose my 12 month old is a total brat for screaming when the Dr. tried to look in her ears.  Because she so understands what's going on.  Geez.

nonmember avatar Anon

LOL at the first comment. We should all have children so well behaved.

nonmember avatar Anon

My kids have always been really good at the doc visits. Even for shots, nary a peep. Last time my 3yo told me in advance that she was going to smile through the shot (a long, painful DPT) and that's exactly what she did. It weirds out the docs / nurses. I bet they have a note in their computer to watch for marks of child abuse. Thing is, I'm always totally calm and explain what's going to happen, including whether it's gonna hurt and how much. My kids trust me because I tell it like it is.

Tamar... Tamaralynn30

Try another doctor. One that is reputed to be great with kids :-). Especially those that fear the doc visits.

Proud... ProudSingleMum

All I know is that the best thing that works for me is to be prepared. Why? Not because it keeps my kid busy (although that would work too) it's because whenever I am prepared, we get seen RIGHT AWAY. It's like a curse, HAHA.

My issue is that Drs seem to think their time is the only time that matters. If I show up more than 20 min. late to an appt. they make me pay for it AND make me reschedule. Well...when a dr is 20 or FORTY minutes late...nothing...it's like it's no big deal. 

nonmember avatar Anon

My son was always TERRIBLE for the doctor - screaming at just the stethoscope touching him. And we had an awesome ped. What helped a TON is one of those little doctor kits. We pretend play with it. He likes to listen to my heart, and then we switch. We pretend to take his temp. The only thing he still sucks at is looking in his ears - and he's WAY better than he was. So we still need to work on that. But pretend play (my son just turned 2) helped way more than any book would have.

carso... carsonsmommytam

My son luckily is very content at the doctors. I do understand however that he is a toddler and they do have minds of thier own, and it could change at any time :)

sodapple sodapple

funny my now 4 yr old was very good during the 1-4 yr gap, didn't even cry and was very good with the doctor. yesterday she had to get shots and she reminded me of the way she was back when she was 1, i had to hold her, the doctor was scared and she was screaming all the way! what happened in a few months, i have no clue but i'm surprised. lol

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