Survival Guide: hospital stays with a little one

Squid’s first hospital admission was when he was 7 weeks old. He was struggling to breathe and his oxygen saturation levels dropped to below 90% so he was taken in to be monitored and for oxygen if needed. It was terrifying, but really just set us up for things to come. 

I had wished and wished that the asthma gene would bypass my little love, but it seems we weren’t that lucky, though I have a vain hope he may grow out of it. 

Luckily our last admission was in February, so we’re 3 months clear – though I hope writing that hasn’t jinxed it! 

Being in hospital when you yourself are ill is stressful enough, but when it’s your little one, it can be even worse. So, I thought a handy little guide to surviving a hospital stay with your child might be useful! 
Now, we’ve only ever been admitted for short stays, so perhaps this advice might be different for longer hospital stays, though in my experience, children become poorly very quickly and equally seem to recover quite suddenly too!

Firstly then: Essentials for your over night bag

  • I think any hospital stay requires home comforts, and especially so for children. Pack any comforter they have, and if they don’t have a specific comforter, then pack a favourite toy. For yourself – pack your own pillow! Nothing is as uncomfortable as a hospital grade, plastic covered pillow!
  • Snacks! All the snacks! Plus bottled water. The hours between ward rounds are never ending, and you’ll likely be exhausted from a lack of sleep (because hospital wards are busy and NOISY!), so keeping your energy levels high is important! At our local hospital, the parent staying with the child is only allowed a meal if there’s spare food at meal times so make sure you pack yourself lots of high energy food – or send someone to go and grab you some! My parents always bring me in a huge picnic when Squid gets admitted, and it’s great to graze on throughout the day (and night!)
  • Loose change! For the car park if any visitors have the misfortune to have to park in it, and for the vending machines in the hospital if you desperately neeeeed a Diet Coke at 4am. (Yes, that’s happened.)
  • Phone charger. A phone with 100% battery is totally essential for maintaining sanity in the middle of the night when all the bleeping and buzzing keeps you awake!
  • Calm activities. Though your mini human may be poorly, if they’re anything like Squid, they still need occupying (between bouts of sleep!) Things like colouring books are always a great, quiet and calm activity which can help while away a few hours. Our hospital is lucky to have a huge playroom on the children’s ward – with a play specialist at certain times too – but I know not all hospitals have this facility, so things like jigsaws, stickers, magazines and books are all essentials for that hospital bag! If you’re admitted in the wee hours, send a relative to grab some things the next morning – you don’t need to leave your child’s side if you don’t want to! 

  • Patience. Hospitals are busy places, there are hundreds of patients and on a children’s ward especially, it can feel like days last for weeks. The lack of sleep, coupled with worrying about your little love, can make you feel irrational, so just remember that the wonderful nurses and doctors are working tirelessly hard to keep patients happy and make them well again, even if it seems like things move slowly (especially when you’re hoping to be discharged!)

Top tip – don’t be afraid to ask the staff if they’d mind staying with your small person whilst you nip to the loo/have a wash/make a cup of tea! Remember to look after yourself too! During quieter times, the staff won’t mind a bit. 

How to prepare your child for a hospital stay

If you know your little one has a surgery or hospital stay coming up, or if they’re regular residents of your local children’s ward, then it can really help to familiarise them with the things they might encounter. 
Things that have helped us are books about hospitals, doctors and nurses. 

Playing ‘nurses’ with a hospital set – we love to take each other’s pulses and check our hearts with a stethoscope! 

If your child, like Squid, has an inhaler, they may be really great at taking it. However, it might still help to administer any medicines to cuddly friends first! This can really help things seem less scary. 


Has your little one ever had a hospital stay? What really helped you get through it? I’d love to know! Leave a comment below to share your top tips with other parents!
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Squidmamma 🐙 x


Story time: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!

Ahh. Bank Holiday Mondays. Every Brit loves them right? A free day off and all that. Not that it makes much difference to me – I work Wednesday to Friday so never have to go in on a Monday and anyway, I’m a mum. That’s a full time job right there in itself. 

But in the spirit of enjoying a ‘free’ day off with my husband, we took a stroll through a deep dark wood with our friends, Squid’s godparents. And what an experience it was.

I had wanted to see the bluebells in bloom for ages so we all trekked to a local wood which was full of them. Squid’s godparents have just got a new puppy so along the pup came too. Squid calls him ‘Bank’ so we’ll go with that. 

You know how the saying goes ‘never work with children or animals’? Well, yes. That. Never do. 
Three days off together really is just too long, isn’t it? Especially after 3 years of marriage. After a morning spent bickering over whose turn it was to change the small boy’s nappy, or whose job it was to replace the loo roll, we should probably have just stayed home. 

Nevertheless, we persisted. To the woods! I wanted some pictures of Squid, candidly frolicking amongst the bluebells. You know, like on Pinterest? So into the bluebells we went, as I ‘candidly’ placed my mini human on a log and asked him to smile. 

No such luck. Toddlers don’t have Pinterest. Squid wouldn’t play ball and looked, quite frankly, disgusted at the bluebells. I was beginning to feel the same way too. 

Squid wouldn’t stand with Bank for a photo either, and Bank wouldn’t keep still or look at the camera, so my Pinterest worthy snaps were out of the window!

Nevertheless, we persisted. You know I said ‘never work with children or animals’? Well, I have a third thing you must never work with: husbands. My husband and Squid’s godfather, let’s call him Bobby, insisted on throwing the tennis ball (meant for Bank, the pup) to each other, using a cricketing type throw, for the duration of this relaxing stroll. I think they thought they were actually competing in the Ashes, as our walk was complete with a running commentary of the precision of ball-throwing. Men and their balls… Squid tried to join in but I had to draw the line when the ball bounced off his head. 

Nevertheless, we persisted. Squid wanted to be carried, no, walk, no, be carried, which was excellent fun. Eventually, after another minor marital disagreement, Squid settled on daddy’s shoulders, holding on to his ears as reins and commanding ‘go go go!’ And all was happy and good in the world. 

And then Bank did a poo. And then Bank ate the poo. 

Why? Why do dogs do that? It must’ve been delicious, because he was sniffing the ground for more. More delicious poo! Yum!

Which got me thinking: there are SO many similarities between toddlers and puppies:

– Neither have a fear of danger

– Both want to be carried at every opportunity 

– They’re both unpredictable 

– Both have a tendency to do unpleasant things with their own faeces

– Both can be very easily clicker trained *

– Both are really bloody adorable (which is a good job. Because poo.)

After the poo eating incident we were all a bit horrified and so had to very quickly find our way to the nearest pub. 

I don’t think I’ll bother with the bluebells again. Can’t quite see what all the fuss is about, anyway. 
(Of course, though, I did gush on Facebook about the lovely afternoon we had, complete with angelic looking photo of Squid treading candidly through a blanket of bluebells… because you have to keep up appearances, right?!)

Catch me on Twitter and Instagram @squidmamma and on Facebook for daily Mama-baby-life-work-family updates! 

Squidmamma x

*As Bank is just a pup and is learning the dos and don’ts of ‘walkies’, Squid’s godparents use a clicker, which they click when he does something good. Every time the clicker clicked, Bank ‘sat’ beautifully for a dog treat, which Squid gave him – so in the end, every time the clicker clicked, both Bank and Squid were there waiting patiently for the treat!