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Preparing for Your Child’s Hospital Stay

Caring for children and their families forms the core of everything we do at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. We understand that a hospital stay can represent a major change for the entire family. Therefore, we would like to share information about how to prepare yourself, your child and others for what may happen before, during and after your time at The Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center.

Learn more about the services and resources available to help you and your child have a positive experience at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

Infants

What you may need to prepare for:

  • Change in routine
  • Diet restrictions
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Mobility restrictions
  • Separation from caregivers
  • Unfamiliar environment and people
  • Possible interruption of typical development
  • Learning to sit up, crawl and stand

How to help your infant:

  • Bring familiar comfort items from home
  • Blankets, stuffed animals, pacifiers, soothing music, as well as any items you think may be helpful
  • Create a plan for consistent caregivers (make a schedule of who can be at the hospital at different periods of time
Toddlers

What you may need to prepare for:

  • Change in routine
  • Diet restrictions
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Mobility restrictions
  • Separation from caregivers
  • Unfamiliar environment and people
  • Possible interruption of typical development
  • Toilet training
  • Learning to talk and walk

When to talk to your toddler:

  • 1-2 days prior to admission

How to help your toddler:

  • Bring familiar comfort items from home
  • Blankets, stuffed animals, toddler sippy cup, soothing music, as well as any items you think may be helpful
  • Create a plan for consistent caregivers (make a schedule of who can be at the hospital at different periods of time)
  • Provide your child an opportunity to participate in health care play
  • Purchase a play “doctor’s kit”
Preschoolers

What you may need to prepare for:

  • Change in routine
  • Diet restrictions
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Mobility restrictions
  • Separation from caregivers
  • Unfamiliar environment and people
  • Possible interruption of typical development
  • Talking about and sharing wants and needs

When to talk to your preschooler:

  • 3-5 days prior to admission

How to help your preschooler:

  • Ask your child to help choose familiar comfort items from home
  • Favorite blanket or pillow, stuffed animals, soothing music, play activities (toys, books, arts and crafts), as well as any items you think may be helpful
  • Create a plan for consistent caregivers (make a schedule of who can be at the hospital at different periods of time)
  • Provide your child an opportunity to participate in health care play
  • Purchase a play “doctor’s kit”

Talk to your child about the upcoming hospital stay and reason for admission openly, honestly and in simple terms. Children at this age are more likely to maintain a trusting relationship if they feel included in the experience. Offer a chance for them to talk about what questions they may have as well as what they may be wondering about. Clarify any misconceptions that may arise in your conversation.

School Age

What you may need to prepare for:

  • Change in routine
  • Diet restrictions
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Mobility restrictions
  • Time away from school
  • Time away from sports and activities
  • Separation from peers and caregivers
  • Unfamiliar environment and people
  • Feeling homesick
  • Loss of independence

When to talk to your school-age child:

  • 1-2 weeks prior to admission or when you begin to plan for your admission

How to help your school-age child:

  • Bring familiar items from home
  • Favorite blanket, pillow, slippers, activities (toys, books, music, arts and crafts, games, lap top) as well as any items you think may be helpful
  • Encourage them to help with the packing to be sure favorite items are included
  • Create a plan for consistent caregivers (make a schedule of who can be at the hospital at different periods of time)
  • Communicate with your child’s teachers about ways to keep up with school work
  • Provide your child an opportunity to participate in health care — through asking questions and being included in basic discussions

Talk to your child about the upcoming hospital stay and reason for admission openly, honestly and in simple terms. Children at this age are more likely to maintain a trusting relationship if they feel included in the experience and part of the decision-making process. Offer a chance for them to talk about what questions they may have as well as what they may be wondering about. Clarify any misconceptions that may arise in your conversation. Talk with them about ways to share their upcoming hospital stay with friends.

Teens

What you may need to prepare for:

  • Change in routine
  • Diet restrictions
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Mobility restrictions
  • Time away from school
  • Time away from sports and activities
  • Separation from peers and caregivers
  • Unfamiliar environment and people
  • Feeling homesick
  • Loss of independence
  • Lack of privacy

When to talk to your teen:

  • As soon as you begin to receive information and begin to plan for admission

How to help your teen:

  • Bring familiar items from home
  • Favorite blanket, pillow, slippers, activities (books, music, arts and crafts, games, laptop) as well as any items you think may be helpful
  • Encourage him to help with the packing to be sure his favorite items are included
  • Create a plan for consistent caregivers (make a schedule of who can be at the hospital at different periods of time)
  • Communicate with your teen’s teachers about ways to keep up with school work
  • Provide her an opportunity to participate in health care — encourage her to ask questions and take part in decision making
  • Plan ways for her to keep in touch with peers

Talk to your teen about their upcoming hospital stay and reason for admission openly and honestly. Teens are more likely to maintain a trusting relationship if they feel included in the experience and part of the decision-making process. Offer a chance for them to talk about what questions they may have, as well as what they may be wondering about. Clarify any misconceptions that may arise in your conversation. Talk with them about ways to share their upcoming hospital stay with peers.


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