• Prepare your child ahead of time. As much as you can, explain to your child what will happen in the hospital. You may want to use an age-appropriate book or video (ask someone at your local library or the hospital family resource center for ideas). Depending on your child's age and needs, you may also want to ask one of your child's providers to use a doll to act out tests or procedures before the real thing.

  • Know your rights. Hospital regulations allow you to stay in your child's room overnight and during tests or procedures.

  • Tell the hospital team about your child's favorite foods, most enjoyed activities, toileting, and sleeping habits. Bring a copy of the All About Me pdf format of all-about-me.pdf
form to give to the team.

  • Bring your child's familiar objects and reminders of home (such as toys, pictures, music, books, and pajamas).

  • Ask to have non-routine procedures that might be painful or uncomfortable done in a treatment room, rather than in your child's room. This way your child can feel better about his or her hospital room.

  • Think about how to schedule visits from relatives and friends so your child receives important emotional support but does not get too tired.

  • Bring Directions to the hospital as a resource and to organize information and papers/reports given to you during the hospital stay.

(Adapted from Working Toward a Balance in Our Lives: A Booklet for Families of Children with Disabilities and Special Health Care Needs. Project School Care, Children's Hospital . Boston: Harvard University, Office of the University Publisher, 1992.)

Resources to Help During a Hospital Stay
The hospital may have resources to help you and your family. Ask the hospital staff about:

Family resource centers and librariesMeal tickets
Interpreter servicesParking vouchers
Support groups and counselingCheck cashing and ATMs
Activities and care for siblingsLaundry and cooking facilities
Educational tutoringLodging or short-term housing for parents
Religious services and counselingBlood donation