Preparing For Your Visit

Preparing Your Child for the Hospital

When your child has to go to the hospital. You may be worried about how to explain what will happen. As you are learning about your child's procedure or illness, you may have questions. Do not hesitate to ask for help from your physician, nurse, or child life specialist on how to explain everything to your child.

Why is it important to talk to my child about his or her upcoming hospitalization or procedure?

For most children, the biggest fear is the unknown. By talking to your child, you provide information that can decrease their fears about what they do not know or understand. Talking to them may increase the ability to cooperate.

Prepare for your visit

How do I talk to my child?

The key is to give only the amount of information your child can handle. The age of your child may affect what information you provide. If your child is resistant to talking about the upcoming hospital stay or procedure, give them some time and try again later. Timing is very important. If you give them too much time to think about it, they may become anxious. If he/she does not have enough time to think about it, he/she may feel rushed and not cope as well.

  • Use words that your child can understand or "soft" words. Words that children cannot understand may increase their anxiety and fear.
  • Provide basic information: name of the procedure, amount of time it may take, where it will occur, who will be doing the procedure, etc.
  • Explain why the procedure needs to be done. Is it to fix something? To see what is making them feel sick?

How can I help my child cope?

  • If appropriate, talk about and practice coping skills.
  • If appropriate, give your child an opportunity to be actively involved. Pack your bags together, let him choose a stuffed animal or toy to bring, or talk about what role your child will have during the procedure or hospital stay.

Tips for Coping:

Infants

  • Speak in a soothing voice
  • Touch softly or pat
  • Play music or sing
  • Offer a pacifier
  • Hold him/her

Toddler

  • Hold him/her
  • Play music or sing
  • Read books
  • Play with toys that make noise or light up

Preschool

  • Blow Bubbles
  • Read books
  • Play music or sing
  • Count
  • Talk about favorite things
  • Use a view master or something they can look in
  • Play with toys that make noise or light up

School Age

  • Squeeze a ball or soft object
  • Take slow, deep breaths
  • Play with items that make noise
  • Music
  • Talk about a favorite place, hobby, or activity

Adolescent

  • Talk about a favorite place or thing
  • Use guided imagery (remember a place that makes you feel safe or happy)
  • Music
  • Video Games
  • Take slow deep breaths
  • Squeeze a ball or soft object

Things to Bring

UMC Children's Hospital will supply diapers, hospital gowns, soap, toothbrush, and toothpaste for your child during his or her stay. If you have specific brand preferences, you may want to pack your own. In order to make your child comfortable in a new place, we encourage you to bring some favorite items from home.

For Kids -- Things to Bring:

  • Pacifier and/or sippy cup (if appropriate)
  • Car seat (if appropriate)
  • Blanket or favorite stuffed animal
  • A few favorite toys (we also have toys you can borrow during your stay)
  • A few pairs of pajamas
  • Clothes and shoes to go home in
  • Extra underwear and socks
  • Robe and slippers
  • Hair brush
  • Pictures of family members or loved ones (especially if it is a long stay)
  • Glasses, hearing aides, crutches, braces, etc.
  • Medications your child is currently taking

For Parents or Caregivers -- Things to Bring: 

  • Clothes to sleep in (to ensure privacy, we suggest sweat pants, t-shirts, etc.)
  • Comfortable clothes for the daytime
  • Robe and slippers
  • Personal care items (shampoo, soap, deodorant, brush, toothbrush/toothpaste, etc.)
  • Your medications, glasses, etc.
  • Calling card (if you need to make long distance calls) or cell phone/charger
  • Money for beverages, snacks and meals which are available from the cafeteria and vending machines
  • List of important phone numbers
  • Insurance Information
  • Book or magazine

Please do not bring valuables such as jewelry or large amounts of cash.

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