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You learn that your child has an upcoming doctor appointment, hospital stay or needs to go to the pediatric emergency department. Here are tips and suggestions that will help to ease the experience:

  • Tell your child about the upcoming appointment/hospital stay. Explain why it’s needed, what will happen and who he/she will see. If you are unsure of all the details, be honest and say you’ll learn together. Not telling the child is a short-term fix that can erode their trust in what parents say.
  • Bring all of your child’s medications (including herbal supplements), in original bottles if possible.
  • Bring your/child’s insurance card; this will need to be presented to medical staff.
  • If your child lives with chronic conditions, keep a journal of recent symptoms or start to type/write up child’s full medical history. Having a prepared document or history supports the medical team in treating your family efficiently and safely.
  • Arrange for care of your other children. Unfortunately for some hospitals it can be challenging to accommodate additional children along with the patient. During doctor visits you can focus on the conversation with care providers if the other children are at home.  At the hospital once a child is admitted and in a patient room, their siblings are welcome to visit as long as they are feeling well.
  • If anticipating vaccinations at a doctor appointment, request ahead of time a prescription for numbing creamThis cream may be applied to a small area of the skin with a non-absorbing dressing to ease the pain of injections. Many pediatrician practices also support parents “hugging” or sitting with their child to provide comfort and stability to ease vaccinations.
  • Bring your child’s own pillow, pajamas and comfort item to the hospital. Hospitals will have pillows, blankets and pajamas, yet nothing is as comforting as your own.
  • Pack a few easy-to-use toys or electronic device While hospitals often have toys and devices that may be borrowed, it’s also nice to have full access to your own. You may be admitted during hours that the playroom is closed.
  • Pack your phone charger. Many hospitals have phone charging stations, but many parents do not want to leave their children to go charge a device.
  • Consider bringing a favorite snack item. Hospitals will provide meals and it may be some time before one is delivered to you. Depending on your child’s need for medical care, he/she may need to refrain from eating or drinking. ALWAYS check with the medical team before giving your child something to eat or drink. A snack can also be a calming experience after a doctor appointment.
  • Alert your support network. A hospital stay or emergency room visit is a stressful experience for all, including parents. Support for you will ensure your stress level is managed – enabling you to be at your best for your child.
Sharon Granville, MS, CCLS, CTRS, NCC

Sharon Granville has been helping children and their families cope with the stressors of illness, injury and end of life for more than 25 years – expressing her passion to provide play, education and patient and family centered care that enables coping and healing.