How to Help Your Child Manage a Hospital Stay

For any child a stay at a hospital can be a daunting. A child who's never been in hospital before won't know what to expect, a child who has been an inpatient may have fears based on the previous experience. By being prepared and there for them throughout their stay, you can reassure them everything will be fine. Stay with them as long as possible and you will be able to show them they will get better and hospitals are a good thing.


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    Leave for the hospital in good time. If your child has an admission time scheduled, arrive 15-30 minutes early. Neither you or your child need the stress of running late. Remember, your child's treatment could be affected if you are not ready at the time the hospital staff are prepared to perform any procedures.
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    Make sure you are at the right place with everything you need. Check with the hospital staff that you've got everything your child will require during their stay. Remember any medications your child takes, or at least a list of their medications so the hospital can supply them. Your child may need day and night clothes, their glasses, pacifier, their walking sticks or frame, CPAP machine, braces, shoes and slippers and anything else they use on a daily or nightly basis.
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    Have your child's favorite things from home to make them more comfortable. Take coloring books, stuffed animals, etc packed in a bag and keep it close by their bed so if and when they request it then it is very nearby.
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    If your child is well enough to be interested in TV let there take control. Hand them the remote to the TV and let them flip through to find a program they are interested in. Many hospitals have cable or satellite TV and watching their favorite shows can often lessen the fear of hospitals.
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    Make sure your child is comfortable in their bed. See if they need another blanket, more pillows, etc. If these are not available call a hospital aide or nurse who will be happy to deliver some unless your child needs to remain in a specific position, such as being in traction.
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    If a child gets hungry call a nurse and see if they can bring your child a small snack to tide them until the next meal. Remember that prior to surgery, fasting is often required and your child may not be allowed to eat. You may be required to monitor exactly what your child eats and drinks. Be ready to this
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    Explain to your child that they may have to be checked regularly by a nurse. It's possible that every couple of hours a nurse will stop in to check on your child. They may check blood pressure, start a new IV line, or do some blood draws as ordered by your child's physician. Be sure to be here during this time as many children have great fears of needles.
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    If your child wants to talk about why they are here be sure to be able to answer their questions. Tell them they will feel better and hold their hand. If they get upset be supportive by being a good parent. .


  • It cannot be stressed enough: Being there for your child during IV starts or blood draws. By holding their hand and giving them a big hug afterward for positive reinforcement your child will see how much you love and care about them.
  • Most hospitals are on a strict schedule of exactly when breakfast, lunch and dinner are served because of the visiting hours. Remind your child this is the reason why they must wait and not because the doctors are "being mean".
  • If you by accident forgot a lot of your child's favorite things not to worry. Most hospitals have been given generous donations of stuffed animals and toys. Just be sure to ask!
  • Act quickly if your child says they are too hot or too cold. Their heart rate or blood pressure could increase or decrease to dangerous levels if their body temperature is too high or low - maybe. They'd be on a monitor if the risk was that high.
  • Hospital food can be different than at home. Remind them it will not be the same mac and cheese they eat at home.
  • Many children's wards have a 'Playroom' which children may use between certain hours. If you child feels up to moving about, and your nurse agrees, then let them play or burn off some excess energy in there.

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Categories: Title | Childhood Health