Prepare yourself first. Ask your child's doctor any questions or concerns you have regarding hospitalization. By obtaining accurate information you will be able to better prepare your child.
You know your child best, so talk with them about the hospital in terms they will understand and that are non-threatening.
Offer your child honest and developmentally-appropriate information.
Explain to your child why they are coming to the hospital and what will happen while they are here. Younger children should be told about hospitalizations no more than three days before they are to occur whereas older school age children or adolescents can be told up to a few weeks before.
Read books about going to the hospital. These books can be found at your local library.
Play is an excellent way to prepare your child for the hospital. Provide your child with medical equipment (play medical kit for younger children) so they can become familiar with these items. They can use the medical equipment on a stuffed animal or doll. As they are interacting with the materials ask them questions about how they feel about the equipment so you can clear up any misconceptions.
Reassure your child. Make sure they know that being in the hospital is not a punishment and everyone is there to help them.
Help your child express his or her feelings, whether it be talking about what is going on or answering questions.
What to bring to the hospital for an overnight stay:
Favorite blanket or pillow
Special pictures of family and friends
Special toy, game or videos
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Pajamas, robe and slippers
Books or magazines
View more resources on our What to Expect page.