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What to Expect

Hospitalization can be stressful and frightening under any circumstances for both children and their families. Please be assured that we will do everything possible to make sure you and your child feel safe, comfortable and included. It is our intention to provide you with the information that you, as family members, need to feel comfortable as partners and decision-makers in your child's care. The more you know about the hospital, the better you can help your child be prepared and feel at ease.

What to Bring for Your Child

  • Favorite stuffed toy or comfort item (such as a blanket)
  • A few favorite toys (we also have toys you can borrow while you are here)
  • Pajamas, robe and slippers
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Movies (there are DVD players in the room)
  • Schoolwork (if appropriate)
  • Photos of favorite people
  • Medications that your child currently is taking
  • Favorite sippy cup and/or pacifier (if appropriate)

What Parents/Caregivers Should Bring for Themselves

For the safety and security of your child, please bring a photo ID to obtain a visitor badge. All inpatient units are locked for the protection of our patients and families and this badge is required to access the unit.

On units 7A, 7B, 7C, 7E, and 8D, one parent is encouraged to stay overnight with each child. The rooms on these units are equipped with recliners and/or sleeper chairs to accommodate family members who wish to stay overnight at the bedside. Visitors under 18 years old are not allowed to stay overnight in the Children’s Hospital.

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Your medications
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Books and magazines
  • Calling card (if you need to make long distance calls)
  • List of important phone numbers
  • Money for meals and snacks
  • Your child's insurance information

Please note that we do not have sleeping accommodations for the family members of children on our intensive care units at this time. Family members accompanying these patients should bring sufficient funds for meals and alternative accommodations. Information on alternative accommodations including the Ronald McDonald House is available through our Guest Services Representatives.

Tips for Your Child’s Hospital Stay

  • Ask questions about procedures and medical teams. If you need more information or have concerns and worries, please let us know.
  • Communicate with the team. Tell the staff about your child's likes, dislikes, routines and how he or she typically copes with upsetting situations. When your child's attending physician makes daily rounds, this is an excellent time for you to be involved in information sharing and participating in your child's plan of care.
  • Support your child. It is frightening to see your child sick or hurt. As a parent, your voice and touch are very important. Provide your child comforting words and a soothing touch. Ask your child's nurse what else you can do to help your child feel better.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions and express feelings. Communication with your child is very important.
  • Understand your child. When in the hospital, your child may act very differently than he or she does at home. It is normal for children to be fussier, whinier or more irritable than usual. These behaviors are typically very temporary and are reactions to stressful events. Let your child know it is okay to cry and that his/her feelings are normal.
  • Prepare your child for what they may see, feel, or experience. Explain that the medical staff is there to help. Children often wonder about what is going to happen to them. Talk with your child about their hospital stay and provide honest, sensitive and age-appropriate information.

Age specific information for preparing your children for their hospital stay:

Common Questions Children Ask Before a Hospital Stay

Here are some questions commonly asked by children prior to their hospital visit. If your child is planning a trip to the hospital share this information with them to help ease any concerns they may have.

When will I come home?
When your child's physician decides your child is well enough to go home, they will begin talking to you about the discharge plan. Children may not always understand why it is necessary to remain in the hospital, so reassure your child that you will all go home as soon as possible. Talk with your child about the things you will do together once you get home.

Will it hurt?
The most common fear for children of all ages is being stuck with a needle. While you don't want to scare your child, you cannot promise him/her that there will not be any shots or uncomfortable experiences while hospitalized. Instead tell your child that if anything hurts, it is okay to yell ouch and to cry. Reassure your child that no one wants to hurt them and that it is the nurses and doctors job to help the patients get better.

Where will I stay?
Children stay in patient rooms on units with other children of the same age. Your child may have her own room or may have one roommate. All rooms have a bathroom, telephone, TV and a chair/bed for a parent to sleep. Cable access allows your child to watch a variety of child-friendly channels. Many of the rooms have their own DVD players. A limited number of portable video game systems, DVDs and computers may also be available for your child to use in the room.

Can my parent stay with me?
Parents or legal guardians may visit at any time. One adult may stay overnight in the patient room (except in specialty units). It is usually very important and helpful to your child for a family member to stay.

Can my brothers and sisters visit?
Healthy brothers and sisters 12 years and older may visit during normal visiting hours. Normal visiting hours are between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Special arrangements can be made for younger siblings; check with your child's nurse. Siblings must be at least 18 years old to spend the night. If siblings are sick, have been exposed to the chicken pox or any other illness; please do not bring them to the hospital.

Can I bring things from home?
It is important for children to pack familiar items for their hospital stay. Movies, music and favorite toys or security items can be brought to the hospital. Please make sure electronic items operate with batteries only. Additionally, toys and activities can be borrowed from the Child Life Atrium play area.

Can I eat my favorite foods?
To ensure that there are many options for your child to choose from, we offer At Your Request® patient dining system. You can call and order the food your child wants, when they want it. A restaurant style menu is located on the bedside table.