Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Pack Your Child for a Hospital Stay

I get asked a lot how people should pack for their child's hospital stay.  Apparently, we're pros at it.  Everybody's got to be good at something, I guess...

This is by no means the end-all to be-all for hospital how-to's, but these are some thoughts I had based on our vast experience.

1.  Pick out a few of your child's favorite toys about a week ahead of time and stash them away.  When you bring them out at the hospital, it will be a grand reunion!  Plus, she will be so thankful that you didn't take them to the thrift store after all.  :)

2.  Pack a LOT of toys.  This will vary according to age, but we bring an entire suitcase full of toys.  Abby gets bored much quicker when she is confined to a hospital bed, so I just go to my bag of tricks and pull something else out. Toy suggestions for preschoolers:  play dough, mess-free finger paint, stickers, movies on a portable DVD player, coloring books with crayons, Color Wonders, blocks...anything your child can do sitting in bed on top of a small table.  If you have an older kid, I'd say pack some electronics, movies, card games, drawing paper, and small toys.

3.  Bring a favorite blanket.  You can take this to the recovery room to help your child feel more comfortable and snuggle with something familiar.  Make sure your name is on it so that it doesn't get tossed in the hospital laundry when they change the sheets.  

4.  Pack your child's own comfy clothes.  As soon as Abby is given the all-clear to wear her own clothes, I take that hospital gown right off of her!  To me, she looks too sickly lying in that bed with a four-sizes-too-big gown on her. Plus, I think there's something comforting about being in your own comfy sweatshirt and pants.  Obviously, do whatever is most comfortable for your child, depending on his or her reason for being in the hospital!

5.  Socks are a must--especially if you  have little ones!  This has nothing to do with having warm feet, although hospitals are known to be chilly.  Chances our, your child will have to have a pulse oximeter probe for at least part of his or her stay.  If your child is young, the nurse will probably wrap it around a foot or toe.  A sock keeps it on so much better!  Plus, with the little ones, out of sight, out of mind!  Abby pulls on hers if she sees it, so I always take socks with me.  You can also use socks for the hands if your child is known to mess with a surgical wound or pull on IVs!

6.  If you have a child who isn't a fan of doctors, consider bringing "peace offerings" for the doctors to give to your child before examining him or her.  We bring Hello Kitty stickers for the doctors to give to Abby, and it seems to help break the ice a bit...and if nothing else, it reminds the doctors that Abby isn't just another patient!

7.  A medical history takes some time to type up, but it is SO worth it!  When you have to answer the same questions multiple times, it gets really old.  I update Abby's medical history periodically and keep a copy in her diaper bag and in the glove compartment of the car.  If our hospital stay is planned, I make multiple copies and pass them out when the doctors come for the interrogation.  I get more compliments for the medical history than anything else during our stays!

8.  For the last few hospital stays, I have hung a sign on the end of Abby's bed that says, "Hi, my name is Abby!" I got the idea from the pediatric hospital we go to, because they made special little signs for her bed so that people called her by the right name.  We all know Abby isn't too fond of "Abigail," so this helps doctors remember!

9.  If you are planning to stay at the hospital with your child, bring layers of clothes.  The hospital is notoriously cold, but medical equipment can add a lot of heat to the room.  I tend to just pack for both temperatures!  Of course, make sure you have all of your toiletries and such--and bring flip flops if you are going to shower there.  Ew.  Bring cash for the cafeteria and snack machines.  Make sure you have all of your chargers, and I would highly recommend you bring a laptop or tablet if you're going to be there multiple nights.  You'll want something more substantial to surf the internet on when your child is resting!  Pack multiple writing utensils.  They are so hard to find in the hospital, and you don't want to pay $3 for a 5 cent Bic pen in the gift shop!  

10.  Bring your child's own pillow.  If you've ever slept in a hospital, you know how terrible they are.  It's amazing what sleeping on my own pillow did for my night's sleep when I was in the hospital!

I hope these tips help.  Feel free to add others if you think of them!

1 comment:

Raelyn said...

I loved the sock idea!! How clever!! ;)