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Basic Skills

Using a Syringe and Vial to Inject Insulin

By in Basic Skills

Giving insulin injections can be stressful for both the parent and child.  To have this process go as smoothly as possible, gather everything you need ahead of time.

  1. Gather supplies
  • Insulin vial – at room temperature (roll the vial if pre-mixed insulin or NPH)
  • Syringe
  • Alcohol swab
  • Sharps container – to dispose of the syringe
  1. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer
  2. Prepare the Syringe
  • Remove the cap from the syringe and fill it with air equal to the amount of insulin you plan to inject. (i.e.  If you plan to inject 2 units, draw the syringe back to 2 units.)
  • Stick the needle of the syringe into the vial and inject the air into the bottle.
  • With the needle still inside, turn the insulin vial upside down.
  • Pull on the plunger of the syringe to draw the correct amount of insulin. Line up the top of the plunger with the correct line.
  • Tap the side of the syringe to allow any bubbles to float to the top. Push any bubbles out of the syringe with the plunger and withdraw the plunger back so the syringe fills with insulin to the correct dose.
  • Remove the needle from the bottle.
  1. Inject the Insulin
  • Choose an injection site where you have fatty tissue such as the belly, top of the thigh, back of the arm, side of the hips or buttocks area.  Rotate the site every time you inject.
  • Pinch up the skin and push the needle straight into the skin all the way in at a 90-degree angle.
  • Push the plunger down and let go of the pinch.  Hold the needle in place for 3-4 seconds.
  • Dispose of the syringe in the sharps container.


Rotating Injecting Sites

Disposing of Needles Safely

Care and Storage of Insulin

Using an Insulin Pen

How Does Insulin Work?

Smart Insulin Pens

What is a Pump?

Benefits of Pumps

Giving an insulin injection – National Library of Medicine

Drawing Up and Giving an Insulin Shot – University of Michigan School of Medicine

Pro Tips (and Tricks) for Easier and Better Insulin Injections — AADE

Injection Aids — ADA


Reviewed by Angelina Bernier, MD, 3/6/19

This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.