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