10 tips to help kids cope with a hospital visit

Childhood Magic
3 min readMar 20, 2021

As a mum of 3 adventurous boys we’ve had some trips to A&E and last summer my youngest son needed an operation. Here are some ideas which have helped us make the best of a nerve-wracking situation.

  1. Pack a bag of favourite toys to take to the hospital.
    I still remember drawing on my Etcha Sketch in the car on the way to A&E as a child. My son was a big fan of the Joker so a small Imaginext playset with figures kept him busy as we waited in our hospital room. Perhaps you could get them their own doctors and nurses set so they can familiarise themselves with hospital equipment. Role playing what is going to happen can help your child understand what will happen and feel more comfortable.
  2. Take something cuddly.
    My son was delighted when the Ward sister gave him a cute teddy bear. He still cuddles him now and remembers that he got him in hospital.
  3. Order some special gowns and pyjamas from Pyjama Fairies.
    I discovered The Pyjama Fairies charity because Emma Reed has written and illustrated a book about Pyjama Fairies which will be released on 31st March. They make special gowns and pyjamas for your child for a donation.

4. Read storybooks all about hospital stays and different illnesses or operations.
I vividly remember reading Topsy and Tim going to hospital as a child. Here is a list of a range of children’s books about going to hospital. https://www.childrenshealthscotland.org/resources/

5. Watch TV programmes about going to Hospital.
Get well soon Hospital with Dr Ranj on CBeebies uses puppet patients to demonstrate illnesses and hospital procedures so that children know what to expect. You can also watch Topsy and Tim going to hospital.

6. Line up entertainment to keep you and your child occupied on the way to the hospital and during their hospital stay.
I still remember listening to Strange Riders at Black Pony Inn on my tape recorder as a child in hospital. Now there are a whole host of audio stories at your fingertips. Great Ormond Street Hospital has compiled this list of entertainment to keep your child occupied.


7. Design and enjoy a hospital puppet show.
The Little Angel Theatre is touring hospitals with their own puppet show in a box. If it’s not possible to arrange a visit for your child, you could have a go at making your own, with a cardboard box and free printable puppets.


8. Download your child’s favourite movies.
My son kept calm in a late-night ambulance trip as the quick thinking and kind paramedics found his favourite Tom and Jerry movie to watch on their iPad.

Good luck if your child has a hospital visit coming up. Please let me know what helps you and your child to cope.

9. If possible ask to meet the staff who will be in the recovery room.
My son was taken to meet the nurses in the recovery room before his operation so he was familiar with his surroundings when he woke up after his operation, and took it all in his stride.

10. Draw a smiley face or symbol on your child’s hand.
My son’s anaesthetist very calmly and kindly drew a smiley face on my son’s hand when he met him. From that moment on my son trusted him and calmly followed his lead.