Staying calm when your child is hospitalised
How to cope when your child is hospitalised, what to pack and how to be prepared.

It is highly likely that at some point your child will be admitted into hospital and your role as a parent is important when it comes to preparing your child for hospitalization. It can be a stressful and confusing time for any parent, especially if your child has to be admitted without much warning.

Parenting in the hospital ward

A hospital can be a strange and scary place for a child and whether they’re ill or in pain, chances are they’re going to be pretty upset. Most hospitals are aware of this and will help you support your child during their stay in hospital. How you react to the situation can greatly determine how your child copes with hospitalization, how long it takes them to adjust to their stay and how long they take to recover.

Back in the day, most hospitals wouldn’t let parents stay with their children as it would disrupt staff and other patients in the ward when the children cried after the parents had left.

Luckily today parents are allowed to stay with their child at all times to make the experience as easy as possible for the child.

Cape Town, mom, Gina shares her experience after her two-month-old boy was recently admitted into hospital for the Adenovirus and bronchiolitis.

“We woke up on the Saturday morning and saw how he was struggling to breathe. So I pulled a jersey over my PJ’s and rushed over to the emergency room. They pushed him through quickly because of his age and his stats which helped with the anxiety of waiting for him to be seen. They put him on oxygen and admitted him straight away. My husband came through with clothes and pillows and toiletries. We ended up staying for eight nights and nine days. Luckily we were able to do 24 hour shifts between us at the hospital, so it was manageable as it can be very draining. We were also fortunate enough to be in our own room. I think if we were in shared quarters with little ones crying at all hours of the night the week would have felt more like a lifetime. The stress of watching your child suffer is always tough but at the end of the day you can only try your best and hope that the doctors and nurses are at their peak. Luckily he got better and was smiling by the end of the week.”  

Much like during the latter months of pregnancy, some parents keep a hospital bag ready at all times, in case their child is ever hospitalized without much notice.

Some items to pack

-children’s books.

-snacks. It might take a while before your child will want to eat something, but it might be a good idea to have some of their favourite snacks with you when their appetite returns.

-toiletries. Soap, toothbrush, toothbrush, wet-wipes etc.

-blanket or stuffed animal for comfort

-loose clothing.  


-activity books, crayons etc for the recovery period. If you think your child is going to be in hospital for a few days, they’re probably going to feel restless after a while. Window crayons are a great way to decorate the ward, if your child is able to be in his/her own ward.

-earphones and laptop. If you’re able to take your laptop along, get some series in while your child is asleep or use it to play their favourite programmes.

What essential items do you keep in your hospital bag?

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