How to Get Through Your Child's Hospitalization

Hospitalization of your child can be a scary thing. You, as a parent, often feel helpless and are no longer completely in control of what happens. This information will arm you with the knowledge to better prepare yourself for the experience of dealing with your child being sick and in the hospital.


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    Pack for the hospital. Packing for the hospital usually requires a few more items for a child than for an adult. Children need consistency, especially in a very unfamiliar environment.
    • Bring a few items from home and allow the child to be involved in the process of choosing what they would like to bring. Depending on what your child's diagnosis is or what procedure they are having done, you may want to ask your health provider. Usually though, they allow whatever brings the child comfort.
    • Include slippers/shoes for walking around and their pajamas. Button front pajamas are the easiest for nurses when your child has an IV (tube that goes into a vein in the arm or hand for hydration). If you are staying for a long time, bring pictures of family and friends to put up on the walls or nightstand.
    • Parents should bring comfortable clothing and a pillow for their own use. Ask if the hospital has a place to launder clothing so you can bring detergent. Often times smaller children may get sick and your clothes may get dirty, so bring a few things. Bring a book and or something to do for some down time you may have.
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    Ask and Learn. Ask questions prior to going into the hospital and also while you are there. Have your child's health care provider answer your questions about diagnosis and/or any procedures.
    • Registered nurses will be at your child's bedside the most during your stay and they too can answer questions you might have. Nurses are your biggest support while in the hospital. They can help you answer questions, provide comfort to your child, dispense medications, handle all the bedside medical equipment along with respiratory therapists. They are your constant when everyone else comes and goes from your room, your nurses will always be around on the units, unless they've gone off shift. Your child may be cared for by a team, not an individual nurse.
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    Find out about their diet. Allowed foods are important when in the hospital so ask what kind of food your child can have. Often after surgery your child will be given liquids and if tolerated, can move on to solids. Other types of diets may be ordered, just ask your nurse if you are unsure.
    • Ask in advance, before a procedure to find out if its possible to bring in some of your child's favorite snacks and drinks.
    • Hospital food varies and your child may or may not like what is offered and often times there is not much of a choice. Parents might have to go down to the cafeteria and it can be expensive.


  • Pay attention to medications your child gets. Ask the registered nurse what he/she is giving your child. Make sure they have identified your child by their id band that they should wear at all times! This id band has your child's name, birthday, and medical record number. Also they should have a band on that identifies any allergies your child might have to medication.
  • Ask about any additional reading material on the subject of your child's diagnosis, sometimes the information is too overwhelming and you only hear part of what is being said so later when you have down time, you can refresh your knowledge on the information
  • Ask questions about diagnosis, procedures, length of stay in the hospital, diet, and possible outcomes of any procedure.
  • Don't be afraid to speak up when it comes to your child's care. There are right ways and wrong ways of approaching this. If you have a concern, please bring it to your Doctor or nurses' attention in a polite manner. Sometimes lack of sleep, anxiety, and frustration of seeing your child sick can bring out the worst in people. If the matter is not resolved in a time period that you agree with, ask again, if still not resolved ask to speak with the nursing manager of the unit. If you are still not satisfied, each hospital has a patient relations department. This is like a customer service department. Understand though, there will be bumps in the road and decide what you will allow yourself to be frustrated about.
  • Ask for a hospital tour prior to admission to help you and your child familiarize with the environment.
  • Please treat your health care providers respectfully. Remember that they are there to help you and your child get better. No one is perfect, including doctors and nurses.
  • Ask about child life specialists. These are professionals trained in child growth and development and can provide distraction, play at the bed in the child's room, and often have a playroom your child can go to once feeling better.


  • This article is meant to help you and your child cope with staying in the hospital. If you have any problems during your stay, don't hesitate to speak up. Go to the hospital's website where your child is staying and do a little research ahead of time to prepare.

Things You'll Need

  • A few items from home your child would like to bring
  • Pictures of family and friends if staying for a long time
  • Slippers/shoes
  • Button-front pajamas
  • Detergent
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Pillows
  • Your child's favorite snacks and drinks

Article Info

Categories: Merge | Childhood Health