Wednesday 11 May 2022

5 Things to Pack for your Child's Hospital Stay

Hospital stays aren't much fun, it can be a pretty worrying time for most, so the last thing you need is the added stress of thinking about what you need to pack for your child's hospital stay.

My youngest, Taylor, recently went into hospital to have a tonsillectomy. We were told that he could possibly be allowed home that evening, depending on how well the operation and his recovery went, but to bring an overnight bag with us just incase. Unfortunately, recovery didn't go so well to begin with, he had to be put on oxygen and monitored over night, was on morphine for the pain, an IV drip the following night as he wasn't able to eat or drink, and we were finally allowed home after 3 days in hospital. I wasn't expecting, and definitely not prepared for 3 days in hospital, but fortunately I had packed most things to keep us going.

Teddy Bear in hospital bed

So, if you have an upcoming possible hospital stay with your child, here are my recommendations for... 

5 Things to Pack for your Child's Hospital Stay

1. Spare Comfy Clothes for the Both of You

If you know how many days you'll be staying in hospital, make sure you pack comfy clothes for each day, including something to sleep in. Maybe take a couple of options for any further days you may end up staying in. I rolled up a couple of pairs of leggings which hardly took up any space in my bag and were perfect for sleeping in as well as for during the day. Baggy t-shirts were a good shout too. Taylor spent most of his time in his boxers but I did take some comfy joggers and t-shirts for him and a tracksuit for coming home.

2. Things to Keep You Both Busy

There's a lot of waiting around, resting and doing a whole lot of nothing on the ward, so having access to an iPad / tablet or phone is helpful. Download a movie or 2 for your child to watch whilst resting, make sure there are games and apps they can play that don't need internet, just incase internet is difficult to access. It's also important to be able to communicate with other family members. And don't forget a charger!! Oh, and headphones! There's always someone on the ward that forgets, and the whole ward then has to listen to whatever they're watching!

Boy watching iPad in hospital

Although you may have access to some toys and games if you're on a children's ward, it's a good idea to take some small toys and games too, the travel sized options are a good shout, and maybe some kids magazines, books or puzzle books to have on hand to keep them amused, particularly when they're waiting for surgery as this can often be long and tedious. Having something to keep them busy can also take their mind off what may be an anxious wait. Taylor was happy playing with the board games such as Frustration, that the Play Specialist gave us to play with, and for the next few days during recovery he wasn't well enough to play but played a little on his iPad while resting. I did pack some card games, a word search book and his notebook he likes to write in, just in case.

Taylor also enjoyed the Megasketcher which he used to write messages on, as it hurt him to speak for a while after his surgery. This came in great use when he needed to describe how his medicine tasted, as you can see. :) 

Boy playing with toys and games in hospital

3. Snacks For You

While your child may be given meals on the ward, it's a good idea to pack a few healthy snacks for you too. Although parents were allowed to access the kitchen on the children's ward we were on, for drinks and snacks, and there was a cafe down on the ground floor, when Taylor first came back from surgery he was quite poorly and I couldn't leave him. I didn't eat all day as he was nil by mouth before his op and so of course, I was too :). I then only managed a packet of crisps when he was in surgery as I was too nervous and felt quite sick with worry. Once he was a bit better, I was able to go down to the cafe but the choices were limited and very expensive, so I really do wish I would have taken some healthy snacks to keep me going. 

I also noticed a family opposite had bought water bottles and kept filling them up too. Hospitals can be quite stuffy places, it's important to stay hydrated.

4. Toiletries

There's nothing worse than being stuck somewhere overnight and not being able to brush your teeth! So make sure you take your toothpaste and toothbrush, and same for the little one too. I'll hold my hands up, and please no judgement, but I didn't shower during our stay. There were the facilities but I couldn't leave him for very long and preferred a quick freshen up with baby wipes and deodorant. And I was always constantly hopeful that we would be going home! 

A few good options for your toiletry bag may include toothbrushes, toothpaste, travel sized shower gel and mouthwash, deodorant, baby wipes, hand sanitiser, hand cream, lip balm, basic makeup & a light body spray. Of course, any medication you or your little one may need too.

Toiletries in Toiletry Bag

5. A Cuddly Toy or Comforter

A hospital stay can be a stressful time, and for most children an experience that they're not used to.  Hospitals can be strange places, with lots of different noises, lots of people and they may be feeling quite anxious, particularly if they're having a procedure or operation. It's important to make sure your child feels as calm as possible, with home comforts such as a blanket, comforter or cuddly toy. We took one of Taylor's Build a Bear cuddly toys, called Angel, who he cuddled while he was being put to sleep for his operation, and he often turned to her for cuddles when he was in pain during his recovery too.

Boy with cuddly toy in hospital

I'm sure there are many other things, and feel free to share them in the comments if something benefitted you. But it's also important to try to pack smart, and keep bags light so you're not lugging lots around too. Overall, you just need the essentials to ensure the most comfortable and stress free visit possible for both you and your child. 

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