Preparing Your Child for a Hospital Stay

Published: September 12, 2019

Gerald B. Rakos, Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Director, Division of Neonatology and FAAP, Stamford Hospital

For many children, the anticipation of a hospital stay can cause mixed feelings like fear, confusion, and curiosity. One of the hardest things for children to understand is that treatments that hurt, or medicines that taste unappealing, are helping them.

Here are a few tips to ease your child’s worries about staying the hospital:

    1. If your child is old enough to comprehend and have full conversations, we recommend telling him or her in advance about his or her medical condition, treatment, and upcoming stay.
    2. Be prepared for all sorts of questions. Explain gently and honestly what he or she can expect. It may be helpful to use euphemisms to make the experience seem less frightening. For example, instead of saying "put to sleep" when talking about surgery, you can talk about a special sleeping medicine. Instead of using the words “wound” or “incision,” when talking about healing, you can tell him or her their boo-boo will feel better soon. 
    3. Reassurance is key. Tell your child that someone they love will always be nearby during their stay.
    4. Encouragement makes a difference. Help your child engage with Stamford Hospital’s pediatric hospitalists and nurses—they are his or her allies. Persuade your child to express feelings, fears, and fantasies. That includes saying it’s okay to cry, and especially to laugh. 
    5. Make your child feel at home. Feel free to pack his or her favorite items like toys, a favorite book or a cozy blanket for comfort. 
    6. Understand hospitalization affects the whole family. Bring siblings along for a visit. Keep in mind—they may also find this experience both challenging and stressful—so keep them informed as best as you can.

    Child staying in hospital. Nurse by bedside.We’re pleased to offer parents and children a cheery, caring environment in the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Pediatric Unit. With a kid-friendly nautical theme featuring bright colors and private, spacious rooms, the unit was designed to make children feel at home. Additional features of the unit include: 

    • A team of pediatric professionals, available 24/7
    • Nursing stations built close to all children’s rooms
    • Private consultation room for parents to discuss treatment plans with pediatricians
    • Family lounge and nourishment rooms for relaxation and comfort
    • David's Treasure Chest toy closet with toys for your child to enjoy
    • Children's playroom to accommodate a range of ages
    • Pull-out beds in all rooms for parents and games available through the GetWell Network for children

    We sincerely hope your child never has to stay in the hospital. If a hospital stay is inevitable, you can take comfort in knowing your child is in the hands of a caring, professional team.

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