Your Child Is Going To The Hospital

Not sure what to expect? See It Before You Experience It

As nurses, we feel strongly that parents and children need resources that explain in a fun and engaging way some of the things that will happen when you have to go to the hospital. Even though doctors, nurses and hospitals all differ slightly, the videos and articles are here to help prepare you, for what might come.

Tips from Doctors and Nurses

How to Prepare Your Child for an Outpatient Procedure

Preparation is key to helping reduce anxiety about hospital visits, which is a goal that all families and staff share. These tips can help you–and your child–get ready.

5 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Surgery

These five tips from Dr. Cheryl Lane are easy to read, and all are free. Each takes self awareness, effort, and some planning, but from our experience, these steps make a difference!

Who will hold my hand?

A guide for parents whose child needs an operation, available for free online. Written by Dr. Kathryn D. Anderson, former President of the American College of Surgeons, with the goal of taking away some of the fear and helplessness parents feel when they hear the word surgery related to their child.

Why It Is Important To Be Honest With Your Children

Hania, Child Life Specialist UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, explains the importance of being honest with your child about what is happening during medical encounters, this includes doctor’s appointments, hospital visits, surgery, and other medical procdures.

Anesthesiologist Explains Anesthesia for Surgery

Dr. Kasman, Pediatric Anesthesiologist UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, explains how she gets kids off to sleep for surgery.

Prepare Your Child for Medical Encounters

Maddie, Child Life Specialist UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, explains to parents how to prepare their child for a medical appointment for procedure in the hospital.

Tips from Other Parents

Preparing for Toddler Surgery

As this parent says, going through a child’s surgery, routine or not, can be a physically and emotionally exhausting experience. Our hope is that reading tips like these from a parent who has been through the experience can help you prepare.

How to Prepare Your Toddler For Surgery: My Own Story

A very real mom with very real strategies that worked to help her daughter prepare for eye surgery. She shares all 14 plus a few bonus tips. Personal and practical.

Kids and Surgery: How to Prepare Them

Not every parent has the same parenting style, and so preparing your child for surgery will vary depending on your relationship with your kid. This is another article with tips, and our hope is that you’ll find advice that resonates with you.

{Pediatric Surgery} Prepare Yourself, Ask Questions

No parent wants to see their child go through pain but pediatric surgery can be especially difficult. Do what you can to prepare yourself ahead of time so you know what to expect.

Pain Management – Take Control

Wong-Baker FACES Pain Scale

Wong-Baker Foundation exists to provide global access to their pain scale and to promote optimal pain assessment, pain management, and altrumatic care.

It Doesn't Have to Hurt

An initiative led by the Centre for Pediatric Pain Research to get research evidence about children’s pain directly into the hands of parents who can use it.

Team Approach to Treat Pediatric Chronic Pain

Chronic pain syndromes can affect children of all ages, often affecting children as young as 9 year old.  A multidisiplinary pain program usually focuses on the return of function which can result in improvement of function and pain.

Medical Procedures and Conditions

Getting an IV

This video is designed to orient parents to the steps involved in getting an IV started in your child.

Starting an IV

Watch the nurse start an IV in a real hospital visit setting. A video for parents to see the steps of starting and IV, and observe a parent using an iPad to distract a child during the stick.  St Louis Children’s Hospital

The Induction Room

Anesthesia is used for patients having major surgery. This video is an orientation to the induction room, where child goes to receive anesthesia.

What Are Allergy Shots?

Allergy shots are an effective way to help your body get used to various allergens that can cause discomfort. Allergy shots introduce tiny amounts of the substance you are allergic to and help your body develop a tolerance. Doctors say allergy shots won’t cure you, but can help you be much more comfortable. For more information visit

Middle Ear Infection Symptoms

Middle ear infections are very common health problems for infants and young children. A Pediatrician from St. Louis Children’s Hospital discusses symptoms and treatment options, including when it might be time to consider ear tubes.

Pediatric Sleep Center Appointment

Your child may be referred for a sleep study to provide help for children suffering from a variety of sleep related issues. Sleep is an essential part of a child’s development, it is important to do everything possible in order to help a child achieve the best quality of sleep.  The results of a sleep study will help you child’s doctor to determine what he can do to improve your child’s sleep quality.

Tonsillectomy: A Kids Perspective

What Is Diaper Rash?

Appendicitis - Causes, and Symptoms

Special Needs Child

10 Ways To Help Prepare Your Special Needs Child For A Hospital Emergency Visit.  These are some practical tips you can follow now that can make things go as smoothly as possible for your child with special needs, should the need to visit an emergency room arise in the future.

Glossary of Medical Terms & Conditions


These medications enable the painless performance of medical procedures. Often referred to as “going to sleep.” Really, being under anesthesia is nothing at all like sleep. There are many medications, both gas and IV, that are used to have your child go to sleep and stay asleep. Because of this, the medicines must be continuously given to keep your child anesthetized.

NPO Guidelines

NPO means “Nothing by Mouth.” Your child will need to stop eating and drinking for a certain time period before their surgery for their safety. You will be given clear instructions on when to stop eating and drinking. It is important to abide by these times or your surgery may be delayed or cancelled.


IV means intravenous and gives medicine or fluids through a needle or tube inserted into a vein. This allows the medicine or fluid to enter the bloodstream right away. A needle is inserted into a vein, most often near the wrist. A thin plastic tube called a catheter is then pushed over the needle. The needle is removed, and the tube remains.

Induction Room

This is a room outside the operating room where anesthesia may be given. You may be allowed to be with your child in the induction room when he/she receives anesthesia. This decision is up to the anesthesiologist. You may not be allowed into the induction room because you are too anxious, feel faint, or are pregnant.

Activities and Gifts to Keep Your Child Relaxed and Happy

Care Package Ideas for Children in the Hospital

The more relaxed and happily occupied a child is prior to surgery or when admitted to the hospital, the less likely it is that they’ll get anxious. This article shares some ideas with you for creating a care package for children in hospital. Each item here can be used when confined to a bed, and helps a child to use their imagination, while providing them with the opportunity to play and create without exerting too much energy.

Get Well Gift for Kids: Boredom Eraser

If family or friends want to help out, ask them to gift this for your child. Having a Boredom Eraser on the ready can be a lifesaver while waiting for surgery, or later during recovery!

Bare Heart Buddy Keeping Loved Ones Connected

Bare Heart Buddy was created by Certified Child Life Specialist, Molly Eiche, to provide comfort, love and support to children and families who are experiencing grief from the loss or separation of a loved one.  It is a memory keepsake that can be used in circumstances of hospitalization, military leave, divorce, loss of a loved one or any other life-changing occurrence that may cause a person to grieve.

Apple iPad best sedative for kids before surgery

New research shows that allowing children to use iPads to distract them before surgery requiring general anaesthesia is as effective at lowering their anxiety as conventional sedatives.

Other Resources

Checklists To Help Parents And Caregivers Prepare

(Chick on the links below to view and download lists)

Surgery Day Checklist
Pre-Operative Questions
Post-operative Questions

Books for Parents and Kids

Books for Parents

Who Will Hold My Hand? A Guide for Parents Whose Child Needs an Operation

by Katheryn D. Anderson, MD, FACS, FRCS

A Parent’s Guide to Ear Tubes

by Richard M. Rosenfeld, MD, MPH

Getting Your Child Ready for Outpatient Surgery

by Jerry C Vaughan

Hannah’s Gift: Lessons from a Life Fully Lived

by Maria Housden

Far Fom the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

by Andrew Solomon

In a Different Key: The Story of Autism

by John Donvan

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures

by Anne Fadiman

When Someone Has a Very Serious Illness: Children Can Learn to Cope with Loss and Change

Marge Heegaard

Books for Kids


Franklin Goes to the Hospital

by Paulette Bourgeoisy

Henry Goes to Surgery

by Renita De Chellis

Curious George Goes to the Hospital

by Margaret and H.A. Ray

The Surgery Book for Kids

by Shivani Bhatia MD


Danny’s Tonsil Story

by Marjory Yacco

Good-bye Tonsils

by Craig Hatkoff

Let’s Talk About When You Have Your Tonsils Out

by Melanie Gordon

All About Tonsils. A Kids Picture Book on Tonsils, Tonsillitis and Tonsillectomy

by Jennifer Garcia

Ear Tubes:

Koko Bear’s Big Earache

by Vicky Lansky

Chris Get’s Ear Tubes

by Betty Pace

Tubes in My Ears: My Trip to the Hospital

by Virginia Dooley

Growing Up:

The Adventures of the Prickly Pear and the Happy Hoglet

Pit Bully: The Mental Ninja Awakens

The Tale of Fenny Fox: The Mental Ninja Emerges

by Edward P. Buchanan, MD

Coping With Illness:

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie

Jordan Sonnenblick

When Someone Very Special Dies: Children Can Learn to Cope with Grief

Marge Heegaard


Teaching Children Philosophy

This website presents all the tools that you need to discuss even the most mind-boggling questions your child can throw at you. The basic idea is to get them to say what they think rather than to stumble over an answer you don’t really believe in or to change the subject. All that this involves is faith that your child actually has a lot to discuss with you about the ideas that intrigue and puzzle them. So, instead of panicking when your child gets that puzzled look on his or her face, dive right in and explore together ideas that you are also intrigued by. You’ll be surprised at the results.

What's the Big Idea?

Introducing middle school students to philosophy through film.

Desk of Doctor

General Health Website for Families. It’s no secret that going to the doctor can sometimes be intimidating, whether you’re 4-years-old or 40. Dr. Smarty is an online outlet where anyone can learn more about the health topics they are interested in without the complicated medical terminology.

Download a Free Excerpt from Surgery Day


Subscribe to get a sneak peek of our new book, Surgery Day.

You'll also receive periodic updates from us about helping kids prepare for a visit to the doctor.

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Download Your Free Surgery Day Checklist


Subscribe to get our free Surgery Day checklist and be prepared for your trip to the hospital.

You'll also receive periodic updates from us about helping kids prepare for a visit to the doctor.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Download a Free Excerpt from Surgery Day


Subscribe to get an excerpt from our new illustrated book, Surgery Day.

You'll also receive periodic updates from us about helping kids prepare for a visit to the doctor.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Download Your Free Surgery Day Checklist


Subscribe to get our free Surgery Day checklist and be prepared for your trip to the hospital.

You'll also receive periodic updates from us about helping kids prepare for a visit to the doctor.

You have Successfully Subscribed!