Baby Shots (AKA Vaccines, or Immunizations) And Sleep – Plus, Comfort Tips and Immunization Schedule

2019 Baby Shot/Immunization Chart from the CDC:

Shots. Vaccines. Immunizations. Whatever you call them, they’re part of raising a child in today’s world. As those of you with babies at home can attest, most children (at least, those in America and in many other developed nations) receive a LOT of shots in the first 5 or 6 years of life. These vaccinations are key to preventing life-threatening disease, and are for many, are considered an important part of preventative health care, but they can also stress a parent out!

Now, there are loads of medical questions that you may have about baby immunizations, and how they will affect your little one. We won’t be tackling all of those in today’s article, but we WILL be addressing a few questions in particular:

  • How do baby shots (or vaccines, or immunizations, depending on your preference) affect sleep?
  • How can parents comfort their babies after vaccinations?
  • Are there steps moms and dads should take to prepare for vaccines?

All good questions – and questions that we answer in today’s article!

How Do Baby Shots Affect Sleep?

This question is pretty easy to answer, actually. In general, vaccines and immunizations will affect your baby’s sleep the same way that illness does. In short, right after getting shots, your baby will more than likely be extra sleepy, and sleep more than he usually does. However, your baby may also wake more often than normal. You may see lots of night-wakings the evening after shots, for example. Or you may notice more interrupted naps (even though your baby is actually getting more nap sleep than typically). Generally, babies wake more frequently after shots due to common side effects like soreness at the injection site, or a low-grade fever.

Why is the reaction to shots similar to the reaction to illness? Well, it makes sense, if you think about it. When your baby gets an immunization, it impacts her immune system the same way that a virus or infection would. Granted, the viral components of vaccinations are much weaker than the full-fledged virus (that’s why getting a polio shot doesn’t cause actual polio), but even so, the immunizations do impact your baby’s immune system.

But this impact, while it can make us moms and dads worry, is actually a good sign. You want your baby’s immune system to respond to the shot. Ultimately, you want her immune system to develop a resistance to the diseases against which she’s being vaccinated.

Baby Vaccines: Keeping Baby Comfortable After Shots

Of course, your first thought after your baby gets vaccinated is probably, “How can I help my baby feel better and stay comfortable?” Good question!

First off, it’s important to remember that, according to a 2009 study, it is best if you DON’T offer your baby acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol) after shots. Doing so may actually cause your baby’s body to produce fewer disease-fighting antibodies. This means the vaccinations end up being less effective. This is pretty ground-breaking news since prior to the study, giving a baby a dose of Tylenol right after a shot was pretty much standard practice. Now, however, most healthcare practices warn against doing so.

Miriam Chickering, Registered Nurse, Sleep Consultant, and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, shares this advice:

“My biggest tip to moms is to avoid Tylenol before or after vaccines and to only give a fever reducer if the fever is dangerously high or it has been recommended by their healthcare provider, because Tylenol use before and immediately after vaccines have been linked to reduced effectiveness.”

But if you can’t offer pain-relieving medication, what CAN you do to help your baby feel better? Try some of these tips to soothe and comfort your baby after immunizations:

  • Use Dr. Karp’s 5 S’s! That’s right – The Happiest Baby on the Block techniques aren’t just for sleep! you can shush, swaddle, and swing your baby to being calmer and happier after any stressful occasions – like getting shots. In fact, utilizing the 5 S techniques can stop crying an average of 45 seconds after their immunizations – pretty impressive!
  • If you nurse, breastfeed often after your baby’s shots. Breastfeeding is soothing in and of itself, so if your baby is fussy and waking more than usual, offer plenty of feedings.
  • Try skin-to-skin contact. Skin-to-skin contact is one of the best ways to soothe a worked-up baby, particularly for newborns or young infants.
  • Wear your baby. Again, this works great for newborns or young infants – being worn snugly against mom goes a long way towards soothing an inconsolable baby.
  • Schedule your shots for the afternoon. As odd as this may sound, a 2011 study found that 2 month old babies who received their shots in the afternoon slept noticeably better than 2 month old babies who received their immunizations in the morning. You can read more about the findings here. So try scheduling vaccinations for 1:00 or later, as a step towards promoting better sleep.

Immunization Schedule: An Easy-To-Read Schedule For Parents

We’re including this as a little bonus – we love this easy-to-read baby immunization schedule from the Center for Disease Control! We’ve included it below, as well:

Immunization Schedule
*Chart courtesy of

This immunization schedule makes it easy to see at-a-glance which vaccinations your baby needs at what age.

Altered Immunization Schedules, and Preparing for Baby Shots: Tips From Dr. Sears

Baby vaccines have become a controversial topic over the past 15 years or so – but we don’t want to dive into that controversy here. In our opinion, how you choose to handle your baby’s vaccinations and immunization schedule is between you and your healthcare provider. You should know, however, that there are lots of options between following the CDC schedule exactly and never, ever immunizing your child. Some parents choose to use delayed vaccination schedules; provided you work alongside a healthcare provider, this can be a good middle ground. Dr. Sears offers his own delayed vaccination schedule in his book, The Vaccine Book, and asserts that it’s key for healthcare providers to work with parents, and to take their vaccination concerns into account. Doing so, says Sears, will likely result in higher rates of immunizations overall.

How have vaccinations impacted your baby’s sleep? Any tips for other parents about dealing with immunization aftermath? Let’s get the conversation started!


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20 thoughts on “Baby Shots (AKA Vaccines, or Immunizations) And Sleep – Plus, Comfort Tips and Immunization Schedule”

  1. My son received his DTaP booster last Tuesday. Up until that day my son was starting to get into a sleep schedule where he slept 11 hours or more a night and I have just been working on his naps and trying to get it right. Well it’s been over a week since that darn shot. I wish I could upload the photos from his app and show you his statistics of sleep pattern. He has gone from going to bed between 8 and 11 p.m. to now going to bed around 1 a.m. or 3 a.m. and only sleeping 7 hours now instead of the 11 hours. And if he wakes up at all during that time he will not go back to sleep for a few hours. And now I’m having trouble getting him to even take a nap and when he does take a nap it’s not even an hour. I’m very concerned this is not normal. He has been very hyper very playful his old self just not sleeping well and he’s been extra fussy but we’ve been having problems with that already with Tantrums but now worse. I almost refused the shot because when he had his MMR 12 month visit I thought he was going to die. He had a high fever a week after mmr for almost 4 days wouldn’t eat was banging his head Non-Stop and screaming and crying. And immediately following the MMR he had a bright red grid shaped rash from head to toe and he wouldn’t quit screaming for nearly 10 minutes straight. And not only that for 4 months straight after mmr my son had severe behavioral change was not himself at all and was almost acting like an animal. He has finally settled down out of the abnormal behavior and he’s finally going back to his old self. but because of the MMR reaction I don’t want vaccinations anymore but then I gave in and got the DTaP booster. Now my son won’t hardly sleep and his fussiness is getting worse. What is wrong with my baby?? he is not himself he needs sleep but he don’t want to. up until a month ago he was having the same problem and not wanting to go to sleep until 3 a.m. but that’s because he was teething and now he is not. And don’t tell me that’s what it probably is because I have analyzed sleep patterns that shows a massive decreases sleep the day after his shot. Please help me his doctor is an idiot. She always says everything is odd and not normal. She even tried to get me to quit breastfeeding my son at 6 months because saying it wasn’t necessary. she didn’t even look my son over when we saw her because I needed her to because he had remained 20 lb for 3 months and she just Shrugged it off like nothing.

    • Hi @Donna –
      Thank you for writing to us and for sharing your story about your son’s sleep and his reactions to immunizations. I’m sorry that it’s been such a rough road for him after he has received those immunizations and especially sorry that you do not feel heard or well cared for by his doctor. I would suggest looking for a new doctor first and foremost, so that you can regain some trust and get the support that you need and the care that your little guy needs.
      Now, when it comes to his sleep, we’d love to help! Since sleep has become so disrupted, I’d recommend working one on one with one of our experts to get him back on track.
      There are essentially two types of packages: email only, and e-mail plus telephone support, and we have packages to fit every need and every budget. Our most popular package is our Deluxe E-mail Consultation Package. This provides you with a Personalized Sleep Plan (written just for your family given your specific history you share with your sleep consultant) plus four follow-up email consultations to be used within six months from purchase. Children grow and change quickly in the first few years, so many of our families appreciate a few emails to use later, so that they can write to us over the months when new sleep issues pop up. We are able to tap into over 10 years of experience with thousands of families to quickly help!
      You can see a full description and purchase any of our consultation packages here:
      Hang in there Donna! If you have any additional questions, or if you need any assistance so you can get your family sleeping ASAP, please let us know. We’re here to help!

  2. My son is 2 months old and he just received his shots. He went right to sleep before getting out of the building. He slept 5 hours and now he will only sleep in my arms. Everytime I lay him down he wakes up in 5 minutes. Is this normal?

    • @Ann M Bowen – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us. It’s not uncommon for drowsiness to occur after immunizations, for sure. If it’s concerning to you, though, please follow up with a call to your little guy’s healthcare provider so that he/she can go over the side effects of the shots your son received. We’re sending you all the wellest of wishes!

  3. My baby just had his 6 month shots. He slept great overnight, all 12 hours, awake only a little for dreamfeed. However, he’s been acting sleepy, so I try to put him down, but once he’s in the crib he wakes up. I’m inclined to just hold him to sleep as I’d rather have him sleep than not, but don’t want to get any bad habits forming. I figure once he’s back to his normal self I could expect his naps to get back to normal?

    • Hi @Beth, it is definitely normal for some babies to be a little tired or have cold-like symptoms after a vaccine, as I’m sure your doctor mentioned. I would guess things will pass quickly, but of course if you have any concern be sure to reach out to your doctor. Hopefully things should go back to normal quickly! I find when my kids get over a cold or something we often do have a little rough patch with naps or nights, but with consistency and sticking to the old routine things usually bounce back in a few days. I hope your experience is the same, let us know if things don’t level out and you need help!

  4. My two month old has his shots today and is very cranky and doesn’t want to eat. His pediatrician gave him Tylenol right after his shots. Please,help….will the Tylenol hurt him? And why doesn’t he want to eat? Before his shots he ate right on time. Thank you

    • @Brenda – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us. Baby shots and vaccinations can be nerve wracking as you worry about side effects and such, we know – we’ve all been there right along with you! If you’re concerned about the Tylenol your ped gave him or any side effects he may be experiencing, please consider discussing it with his ped or getting a second opinion to be reassured that what was done was appropriate and his side effects are normal. I know many of us moms here at The Baby Sleep Site have used Tylenol in our infants when we’ve found it appropriate but all babies are different. Hang in there, Brenda!

  5. My son just got his 2 month vaccinations at 10:30 this morning. He fell sound asleep within literally one minute after the shots and has been asleep for about 3 hours. After the shot he cried briefly, I didn’t even have time to put him to the breast before he conked out. He did the same thing after his last Hep B shot, as well. Why does he fall asleep so quickly??

    • Hi @Jennifer, thanks for your comment! As the article mentions, it is common for some babies to fall asleep quickly after receiving a vaccine as your baby’s immune system is responding to it. If you have any concerns though, I would give your doctor a call to get their opinion. Thanks for using the Baby Sleep Site as a resource for sleep help!

  6. I am very concerned, my 12mo old got her vaccines (hepA and MMRV) on Friday, it is now Tuesday and she has been waking up crying with a high pitched cry that is beyond scary. Of course when i go to Dr. Google all that pops up is Autisim or brain damage due to the vaccines. Do you think this is normal? We do have an appt for her later today, i guess i am just trying to seek some comfort in knowing she will be okay.

    • @Araceli – Thank you for stopping by our sleepy little village. I’m so sorry to hear your little girl is waking crying like this after her vaccinations. I know how worrying and concerning it can be. Disrupted sleep or sleepiness are all common as is discomfort due to the pain/achiness/soreness at the injection site. We would definitely recommend you call her healthcare provider, or discuss with them when you see them, for feedback on if her behavior is normal for it being several days after her shots. I know they’ll be better able to give you some direction and guidance. I wish I could be of more help, but hang in there, Araceli!

  7. My 10 week old had his 2 month shots last week. The first night he was up every hour. The five nights after he slept a long stretch of 5-7.5 hours! Before that he usually did a four hour stretch, followed by 2-3 hours. However, six days after the shots he is waking around every hour again. It’s been three nights of this. How long do vaccines impact their sleep? Was the five nights of good sleep just due to the vaccines? I’m feeling exhausted!

  8. My little one is not sleeping well The night after vaccination. I hope he gets back to his regular schedule within a couple days. It’s so heartbreaking to hear him cry randomly without any reason. He also spit up the biggest one we have ever seen, makes me really not like vaccinations at all.

    If you are not sending your child to day care, is it possible to just extend the vaccination schedule for even longer?


    • @Sam I’m sorry that your little one is having trouble sleeping after his vaccinations. If you have questions about the vaccination schedule, I recommend speaking with your child’s pediatrician, who can help you best determine what is right for your child.

  9. I don’t want to get into the vaccine debate but I do want to say each time have had my 8 month old immunizations the nurses always say, “Oh this should help him sleep.” Do I have the only child who sleeps worse for several days after the immunizations? Its crazy but I so dread them because naps and night sleep are always worse.
    But I guess it makes sense that he would sleep worse if that is how he responds to being ill. SO now I really dread sicknesses 🙂

    • @Sonja – I don’t think your baby is the only one who sleeps worse after immunizations! For some, it can certainly put kinks in to their sleep schedule. Like with when your baby is sick, offer comfort to get him through the rough day or so, but once he’s better, try to get back to your regular routine to avoid creating any sleep associations that could linger after. Thank you for commenting and sharing!

  10. I am very disappointed that you would cite anything by Dr. Robert Sears. He simply made up his “vaccine schedules” without testing. He hasn’t done any monitoring of his made-up schedules since he first stuffed them in his annoyingly parent-pandering “vaccine books”. It is no small wonder that there have been outbreaks of measles and pertussis in and around Dr. Sears’ practice area–because he has directly contributed to a drop in the vaccination rates there. Sadly he’s also done this nationwide. FYI, his “tips” on how to prepare your baby for shots have no scientific or clinical testing behind them either–he just made that up, too. Again, it is very disappointing that you give this quack of a pediatrician (and I say this as a pediatrician who truly despises Sears for all the lies and games he plays) any time on your web site. Sears is a menace to public health and deserves to be stripped of his license to practice medicine for the damage he has caused in the last decade to our public health system–Chris Hickie, MD, PhD.

    • @Chris – Thanks for your comment and sharing your viewpoint about Dr. Sears! We agree that every parent should make sure they are informed before they make decisions about immunizations.

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