Spending the night in a hospital can be very frightening for children. Preparing them beforehand can help them cope with the various medical procedures and activities that they will experience.

Prepping Your Child

Talk to your kids about the hospital experience a day or two before it happens. Older kids should have at least a week to ask questions and learn more about the facility. Tell your child when you don’t know the answer, but you will find out from the doctor. Also, be honest and encourage them to talk about their feelings. Only force a discussion if they’re ready to talk about the topic. Make sure your child has a suitcase with all the necessary items to stay in the hospital. They can also sleep in their own pajamas if they want. Ask about the hospital’s various preparation programs, such as day surgery tours. A child’s responses to specific medical procedures and hospitalizations will vary depending on their age and experience.

Be Age Appropriate

Inpatient and outpatient areas have childcare staff members trained to help prepare kids for their upcoming medical procedures. Their goal is to provide them with age-appropriate materials and activities.


Before leaving for the hospital, ensure you bring all the necessary items for your child, such as a blanket, toys, and a stuffed animal. You can also prepare yourself by bringing music to help calm your infant. 


Talk to your toddler about the hospital experience a day or two before it happens. Please communicate with your child in a way that they can understand. Encourage them to bring their favorite items to the hospital so that they can feel comfortable. Playing with medical kits or dolls is a great way to let your child act out their experience.


Discuss the hospital experience with your preschool child around three to four days before it happens. You can use simple words and avoid too much detail. Your preschool child should be able to understand that they did not cause the hospitalization or the surgery. Encourage them to explore the different areas of the hospital by reading books and participating in activities that feature medical equipment. 

School Age

For school-age children, start discussing operation or hospitalization around a week before the event.