How to Survive a Hospital Stay with Your Child
Having a toddler or preschooler in the hospital isn’t something anyone of us want to think about. But just in case you ever find yourself in that position, as I have, here are some tips I have learned about surviving a hospital stay with a toddler.
1)Have a comfort item for your child. Whether it is a blanket, special stuffed animal or toy, have it with you! I always take on of my son’s special blankets for any hospital stay. It looks like home, smells like home and is so much softer than those hospital blankets!
2)Keep a daily routine! If you are in the hospital for more than a day or two, this is a must! The longest I have been in the hospital with my son was ten days and believe me it seemed like an eternity. With lights and beeping and vitals being checked every four hours around the clock, it is hard for those little bodies to establish a routine. During hospital stays, once my son is awake for morning, I always make a point to: open the curtains and let light in, get him and myself dressed (depending on the doctors, they may require your child to be in a hospital gown) and make his bed. This felt like a true beginning to our day! Everything is neat and tidy and fresh. It also enables me to close the curtains at nap time, to help him understand it is time to sleep. I keep our bedtime routine as close to our home routine as possible.
3)Take along a photobook. Even a cheap “brag book” with a few snapshots will help. This is always a huge comfort to my son. He usually isn’t able to see his siblings while he is hospitalized, but loves to flip through the book and look at photos of each of them. This also helps the doctors and nurses see Apollo as a child who is part of a family- not just another hospital patient.
4)Ask about Child Life in your hospital. Child Life is an organization that provides emotional support for children who are hospitalized. Child Life Specialist are able to talk with your child about their medical procedures and help them understand what is happening. They can also bring toys, art projects and activities to make your child’s stay a little more pleasant.
5)Take a copy of your child’s medical records with you! This can be a reference for you and and doctors seeing your child. Make sure you have a separate page with the names and phone numbers of each of your child’s doctors. Also include a list of their medications and doses.
6)Don’t be a afraid to advocate for your child! Ask questions, know what is going on. We have had to correct doctors about the amount of formula to tube-feed our son. Always be polite and respectful, but don’t be afraid to speak up.
7)Have a notebook where you can write down what the doctors have told you, when your child was given medication, etc. Trust me, after a few nights of hospital induced sleep-deprivation, you’re going to need those notes.
8)Have a stash of healthy snacks with you and try to eat regular meals. My husband and I have both gotten sick from not eating enough while staying with our son in the hospital. We have learned to have nuts, protein bars and beef jerky and to make eating well a priority for us.
While none of us would ever wish for a hospital stay with a toddler, they sometimes can’t be avoided. Being prepared can make the situation more pleasant and less traumatic for everyone.
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