Packing your bag for a hospital stay with your child can feel overwhelming. As a mom to a child that underwent several years of cancer treatment, I have a lot of experience with this. Happily, my son is doing wonderfully and hasn’t needed hospitalization in a long time, but I still have a few gems of advice to share. Some of these ideas may also be helpful for shorter, outpatient hospital visits.
First, don’t forget to ask your child’s doctor or nurse for packing suggestions. Check out our Preparing Your Child for Surgery Guide that has some great ideas to get you started. Other tips:
Chargers (cell phone, hand-held games, etc.): Save yourself the headache and bring them all. Trust me, the one you don’t bring is the one you will need.
Batteries: Same goes. If your kiddo has a favorite toy or game that requires batteries, you will need to replace them within 20 minutes of arriving at the hospital. Seriously. I’ve done a study on this.
“New” toys: If your child is feeling up to it, they may want to play with toys while lying in bed. A meal tray can double as a desk on wheels – perfect for coloring, Play-Doh®, cards and small toys. Try to keep a few favorite toys up in the closet for a couple of weeks before your stay. That way, they will feel “new” to your kiddo.
Laptop: A great idea if there is downtime and you want to catch up on a little work. Also, your child may be entertained with a kid-friendly computer game, or by creating a picture with a “paint” program. A word of caution: In my experience many hospitals don’t offer wi-fi access. A little hard to believe from a place that charges like $100 for an aspirin.
(Sidenote: Hendricks Regional Health does offer free wi-fi. There are also public access computer kiosks near the ER. Which totally wasn’t even my idea.)
Stuff for you to do: If there is quiet time while your kiddo is sleeping, you may want to do a little scrapbooking or reading. If you have a family calendar app on your phone, like this free one from cozi.com that rocks, you could even make “to do” checklists or a grocery list. Or spend the time making a “honey do” list. Your husband will be so excited.
Stuff for dad to do: Not really sure how a guy should pack for this situation. My hubbie’s go-to idea is a portable DVD player and some classic Clint Eastwood movies.
Favorite items or “lovies:” Whether it is a sippy cup or blanket, touches of home can really help your child feel comfortable. Don’t worry about packing jammies because the hospital will provide them. However, my son loved to bring along his fuzzy Spongebob slipper socks.
But the most important thing to pack for your kiddo is ... you! Your hugs are the best medicine.