Rocking and pacifiers: two comforting interventions for heelstick pain

Res Nurs Health. 1994 Oct;17(5):321-31. doi: 10.1002/nur.4770170503.


The effects of behavioral interventions in reducing the stress of infant pain are not well documented. Two comfort interventions, rocking and pacifiers, were compared with routine care administered to 60 newborn infants randomly assigned to the three conditions following a neonatal screening heelstick. Heart rate, state of arousal, and crying were recorded continuously. Both pacifiers and rocking reduced crying, but pacifiers predominantly produced sleep states and rocking predominantly produced alert states. Pacifiers reduced heart rate levels significantly more than did rocking. Thus, newborns clearly benefit from both comforting methods. Several mechanisms are proposed to account for these findings.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bloodletting / adverse effects*
  • Bloodletting / nursing
  • Crying / physiology
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Heel
  • Humans
  • Infant Care* / methods*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / nursing*
  • Pain / physiopathology