We're here to support you with the care and information you need before, during and after your visit to a Children's Hospital Colorado laboratory.
We've compiled helpful information on pediatric blood draws and what to do before a blood test, so your family feels confident and comfortable coming to our hospital for blood work.
What to expect from a pediatric blood draw
When you come to Children's Colorado for your child's lab work, you can expect high quality, family-focused care.
Our specially trained pediatric staff knows that needles seem scary to kids, which is why everything we do, in and out of the lab, is kid friendly, like:
- Using the tiniest possible needle, the butterfly needle
- Keeping your child distracted until the blood draw is over
- Using special techniques where we gently hold their arm while mom or dad gives them a comforting hug
What to do before a blood test
We want to make your visit to our department as easy as possible. When it comes to blood test preparation, there are a few things you can do:
- Drink plenty of water: To prepare for a blood test, your child should drink plenty of water the night before. Water hydrates your veins, and hydrated veins are easier to find – meaning their easier to draw blood from.
- Layer: We recommend you wear layers when you come for blood work. That way you can stay comfortable and warm and it's easy for the technician to access your vein.
- Dress warmly: When your body's warm, it's easier to find your veins, which means there's no poking around. We recommend you wear a sweater when coming to Children's Colorado labs for blood work.
- Talk about it: Sometimes knowing what's coming helps kids feel less afraid. To help your child prepare for a blood test, tell them what's going to happen before, during and after the test.
What should I bring to my child's lab appointment?
When you come to one of our laboratories for blood work, you should bring:
- Your insurance cards
- A photo ID
- The name and phone number of the doctor who ordered the tests
- The lab test request from your child's doctor
Types of pediatric blood draws we offer
The phlebotomy and laboratory staff at Children's Colorado's Outpatient Lab is specially trained in pediatric blood draws, which means a less painful and traumatic experience for your child.
There are three techniques our lab technicians use when performing a child blood test: venipuncture, finger stick and heel stick. The phlebotomist will choose the best method for your child's blood draw depending on the amount of blood they need for the tests and your child's age. We only draw the minimum quantity of blood that's needed, and we do so as quickly and kid-friendly as possible.
If the image that comes to mind when you imagine a blood test is a tiny needle and a tourniquet, you're imagining a venipuncture.
Veni, meaning "vein," and puncture, meaning "stick or prick," just means we prick a vein with a needle to obtain your child's blood sample.
When we perform a venipuncture to draw blood, we usually do so at the bend in the arm, near the elbow. We may also perform the test using a vein on top of the hand, foot or scalp.
When we only need a small amount of blood from a young patient (under 6 months old), we just perform a finger or heel stick. When we do these pediatric blood draws, we'll first warm your child's hand or heel using a gel pouch.
Once their skin is warm, one of our pediatric phlebotomists will make a quick, tiny prick and then gently squeeze to get a drop of blood for the blood test. Your child will barely feel a thing – just a little prick. And it'll be over before they notice it began.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ) on pediatric blood draws
We understand that kids and their families may feel anxious or frightened when a child needs to have a blood test.
The following frequently asked questions may help ease your child's anxiety around blood tests. This information also includes suggestions for ways to provide support and encourage your child during the blood test.
No. If you're coming to one of our outpatient labs for a pediatric blood draw or lab work, you don't need an appointment.
Patients only need an appointment for a glucose tolerance test or sweat test collection. Otherwise, you can do a walk-in blood draw.
Yes, all of our staff is trained to draw blood from patients as young as 1 day old. Not only can we perform a pediatric blood draw on preemies, newborns and infants, but we're also trained in distraction techniques, so your child's blood test can go as quickly and fear-free as possible.
A list of all of our walk-in locations and hours can be found here.
Anschutz Medical Campus hours:
Monday to Friday: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. to noon
South Campus hours:
Monday to Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. to noon
Monday to Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
No. Because numbing cream requires a prescription, we're unable to provide patients with any kind of numbing cream for their blood work.
If you'd like your child to have numbing cream for their blood draw, ask your doctor to see if they can prescribe it beforehand.
No, the Outpatient Lab staff can't draw blood from intravenous (IV) or broviac lines. It is Children's Colorado's policy that only physicians and nurses can access lines and remove IVs.
For some tests, you can view the results in MyChart. Otherwise, please contact the physician who ordered the lab work.
No. The scope of our laboratories encompasses more than the pediatric blood draw; while our specialty is pediatrics, the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Services provides testing for adults and prenatal tests for moms-to-be.