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Preparing for Your Preschooler’s Hospital Stay

What You May Want to Prepare Your Preschool Child 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 Preschool Child:

  • 3 - 5 days prior to admission

How to Help Your Preschool Child:

  • 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 her to talk about what questions she may have as well as what she may be wondering about. Clarify any misconceptions that may arise in your conversation.

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