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Kids and Insulin

Taking insulin doesn't need to take over your daily routine, which may make your child feel different from other children. With support along with helpful tools and resources, your child can live a full, active life alongside his or her peers.

This section will review some of the unique considerations for children taking insulin. Be sure to discuss these and other considerations with your child's healthcare team:

How to Handle the Ouch Factor

Understandably, children from toddlers to teens may be frightened by insulin injections (shots). It can help to:

  • Acknowledge their fears: "Yes, I know it hurts. You're being very brave." Positive reinforcement is generally preferred over scolding or threats, to keep the experience in a positive light
  • Be open with your child and talk about their feelings. Fear, hostility, and guilt are all normal emotions for the situation
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about some of the common reactions among children so that you can address them appropriately

Newly Diagnosed Type 1 Diabetes and the
Honeymoon Phase

It is not uncommon for children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes to enter a honeymoon phase when they start insulin. Here's what you should know about that phase:

  • It is only temporary. It can start within several weeks after starting insulin, but it can end within a few months
  • Children in the honeymoon phase may need less insulin than initially prescribed by their doctor. It's important to work closely with your healthcare team when starting your child on insulin
  • Your child's healthcare provider can identify if your child enters this phase and make adjustments to their insulin doses

Issues Unique to Young and School-aged Children

There are many issues unique to infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children when starting insulin. Here are certain considerations to keep in mind:

  • Ask your healthcare team about age-specific concerns when starting insulin
  • Your child may experience low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) if they have too much insulin or not enough food. Young children are especially challenged by low blood sugar because they may not understand what's happening to their bodies
  • Kids may lack the verbal skills to communicate their symptoms, so be sure to check your child's blood sugar (glucose) often to help detect low blood sugar
  • It's important that you know how to give your child an injectable treatment for severe low blood sugar. To learn how to recognize and treat symptoms, see What Is Low Blood Sugar?. Also, work with your healthcare team to determine the appropriate blood sugar targets for your child. They may be adjusted to address the risk of low blood sugar

For more detailed information about kids and insulin, visit Lilly Programs and Resources to access downloadable materials and links to websites and organizations dedicated to this topic.

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