Regularly monitoring blood sugar levels is essential for both children and adults with diabetes. While most children with diabetes will need to check glucose levels before meals and bedtime, this schedule can vary. They might be required to check more often if they are on a new medication, are sick, or have had a change in their activity level. For children, there can be a lot of fear around finger pricks. This can make regular blood sugar monitoring challenging for parents and children alike. To make checking blood sugar for kids a bit easier, here are some of our top tips for success.
Tips for Reducing Finger Prick Pain
Being pricked by needles obviously hurts. Soreness and using the wrong equipment can cause regular finger pricks to hurt even more. You may want to ask your child’s doctor to recommend the best finger prick device for kids. Ideally, you get a lancet that uses a smaller gauge needle to help reduce pain as a great first step.
Before checking blood sugar for your kid for the first time, you want to be physically and mentally prepared. Once you have your meter and lancet ready, try these testing techniques that can help reduce finger prick pain:
- Don’t prick the tip of the finger where the most nerve endings are. Always prick the side of the fingers instead; there are fewer nerve endings on the side.
- Don’t squeeze the fingertip when trying to get blood out. If blood doesn’t come out, massage from the bottom of the finger up to move the blood towards the tip of the finger.
- Alternate fingers and the side of the finger each time. This allows fingertips to heal between tests.
- Always choose a small gauge needle and a lancet that doesn’t prick deeply.
- Don’t reuse lancets. A dull lancet can be painful, may not be as effective, and can increase the risk of infection.
- Consider blood sugar meters that can test from alternate sites, like the leg or hand, which may be less painful.
- The DigiVibe device uses vibration technology to essentially make finger pricks pain-free. The adjustable tip can fit a finger of any size.
And while these techniques can help decrease physical pain, your child may still be anxious or fearful. Managing their emotions around checking their blood sugar can help improve the experience for everyone involved.
Tips for Reducing Fear of Finger Prick Pain
Our brains can influence how much pain we feel. There are several ways to decrease fear and reduce pain caused by anxiety for kids.
First, start by acknowledging your child’s fears. Avoid saying things like “it won’t hurt” or “you won’t even feel it.” Say something like: “It might hurt a little, but for just a second.”
Second, try to stay relaxed yourself. Children tend to pick up on your energy. Slow down your breathing. Try practicing slow and controlled breathing with your child.
Finally, if all else fails, use distraction. Jokes, new toys, or a reward can help you get through regular finger pricks.
Every child is different, and you know your child best. These techniques can help create a calm environment for testing, which can help reduce pain and make the whole process faster.
Checking Blood Sugar for Kids
Monitoring blood sugar can be stressful, especially at first. But with a bit of patience, some deep breathing, a little bit of technique, and a DigiVibe, it can be relatively pain-free for you and your child.
While all people with diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar, to properly manage diabetes in children, blood sugar monitoring is essential. Blood glucose meters make it simple for kids to test anywhere, simplifying diabetes management.
Having kids checking blood sugar levels regularly can help prevent emergencies and also help you and your child understand how food and exercise impacts them.
Regularly monitoring blood sugar with finger prick blood tests for children can help you take immediate action if sugar is too high or too low by adjusting insulin or medications.
Longer-term, it can also improve communication with your child’s doctor. The more data they have about your child’s blood sugar, the easier it will be to make informed decisions about medication changes or other treatments they might need.
The bottom line is checking blood sugar for kids with diabetes regularly is the best way to keep them healthy and lower the risk of complications.