Preparing For Your Infant or Toddler's Hospitalization
Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento
While your infant or toddler is in the hospital, you are encouraged to stay with your child as much as you can. Your presence will help your child to feel as secure as possible in this new environment. One parent can stay throughout the night at the bedside. Recliner or sleep chairs are available. While you are here with your child, you can continue to care for him/her as much as possible (bathing, feeding, etc.) If you are unable to stay, please give nursing staff information about your child, including routines, comfort preferences and likes and dislikes. This will help us provide the best care for your child.
It is important to bring familiar items from home for your child, such as blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, favorite toys, etc. This will help make the hospital environment as familiar and comfortable as possible.
Because it is difficult for the infant or toddler to express his/her feelings clearly, you may find that he/she may cry and direct his/her anger towards you while in the hospital. If you are not able to stay all day, it can be upsetting to have your child cry the minute he/she sees you when you return. This does not mean that you are upsetting your child. You are probably the only person with whom he/she feels comfortable and secure enough to express confused feelings. You are in fact the most important person for him/her right now! If you need to leave it can be helpful to leave something of yours (such as a piece of clothing) with your child.
You will probably notice that your infant or toddler's behavior will regress in the hospital. For example, if a child has recently learned to walk, he/she may temporarily go back to crawling. With time, your child will regain any lost skills. Your toddler may refuse to eat and may have more tantrums than usual. These are typical responses to hospitalization, and are quite normal in this stressful and unfamiliar environment. Please feel free to discuss these behaviors further with your child's Child Life Specialist.
Your child's level of comfort during hospitalization will be related to your own level of comfort. It is important to prepare yourself in advance, making sure that your questions are answered, that you know what to expect, and that you take care of yourself during your child's hospitalization. This will in turn help you to help your child.
For more information, or to schedule a pre-admission tour and preparation, call the Child Life Program at 733-1021.
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