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I’m horrified that parents are opting out of vaccinations and firmly believe that the shots are necessary. And yet I admit it’s no fun watching my happy, cooing infant son look lovingly at our pediatrician right before he’s jabbed four times in four seconds. I know it’s a lot better than polio, but what can we do to make the experience less traumatic, especially as he gets more conscious of what awaits him? I saw a woman in the waiting room trying unsuccessfully to bribe her kid into the doctor’s office with a cupcake, but I’d rather not stoop that low. - Straight ShooterDear Straight Shooter,

Shots are fun for no one, and seeing your kid suffer just plain sucks. For little babies, the pain is usually brief, though their expression can be intense. A swift nipple in the mouth often placates quickly. But once your kid gets older and savvy enough to anticipate the event, the period of discomfort (his, yours, and everyone in the waiting room’s) will likely grow. And at that point, even the finest Magnolia bakery cupcake may not help quell the nerves.For the anxious little patient, we suggest a toy doctor’s kit. A needle of one’s own is a great way for toddlers to feel some sense of mastery over intimidating medical apparatus: thermometers, tongue depressors, reflex hammers, ear inspection gizmos and, of course, the all-powerful inject-o-matic. Just be aware that you and/or any number of your child’s stuffed animals may experience some vaguely disturbing jabbing in the process.

My babysitter insists that the herpes sore on her mouth is no longer contagious once it’s visible and it is therefore acceptable for her to kiss my children. It’s freaking me out! She is making me out to be deeply paranoid. But what I really am is… - Deeply Annoyed

Dear Deeply Annoyed,

We’ve learned (from anecdotal studies with make-out partners over the years), that many people with the mouth sore strain of herpes (most often caused by Herpes Simplex Type 1) are in total denial about their viral predicament. They rarely use the word “herpes” (preferring euphemisms like “fever blister”, “cold sore” or “sun blister”); rarely admit they have a virus; and don’t bother taking steps to prevent the passing of it. This phenomenon is sometimes the result of misinformation. People who had their sores diagnosed in an earlier era may have been misled by old-school doctors. Over the counter products feed the denial with soft language. No one is eager to embrace the stigma of herpes. But it’s one thing to be in denial yourself, and another when your denial can mean someone else’s infection. Especially when that someone is a baby. Herpes can be dangerous for babies, especially young ones. Call them what you will, but the mouth sores officially known as herpes are generally considered contagious both before and during the blister phase. People who care for infants need to use precautions when there’s even a remote possibility of infection. That means frequent hand washing, avoiding sore contact, and NO KISSING. If your sitter protests, tell her your doctor told you so. And if she still protests, get another sitter. Your baby’s safety is more important than her ego.

These phase-in schedules at Manhattan private schools are insane. I have practically had to take three weeks of sick days (or half-days) to deal with it. And my two-year-old son has been fine since day one. I feel like I can’t complain at my fancy private school (the teachers are the experts, after all) but I’m sort of feeling like this is an imposition on working mothers. Is it really so necessary? - Phased Out!

Dear Phased Out,

One of the ironies of your complaint is that the very idea of two-year-olds going to school is, in large part, a response to the needs of families with two working parents. We’re pretty sure Wally and Beaver weren’t phased-into a twos program. We now know that the waddling, toddling set can thrive in a positive preschool setting. But that doesn’t mean you can lift your semi-verbal, diaper-clad child onto a big yellow school bus and wave goodbye. The phase-in process is designed to make sure the kids who need time to adjust get it. There’s an ebb and flow to a child’s need for proximity to a familiar pant leg and it’s not always easy to chart. Some kids lose it on day one, others lose it months, or even years, later, due to what experts like to call a “disruption in the home environment.” So, in answer to your question, sure, it’s necessary – if not for today, maybe for an unforeseen moment of future insecurity – if not for your kid, for another kid.

Which is not to say that all of this can’t be a huge pain in the ass, especially for working parents. We’ve heard of some nasty office face-offs due to phase-in commitments. If it’s a serious problem for you, and your child really does seem to be doing fine, try talking to his teacher. It may be hard to pipe up, but you’re likely to come away with one of two results: a reinforcement of the value of this protracted phase-in effort, or permission to phase yourself out.

Have a question? Email parentaladvisory@babble.com

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