Preparing your child for hospital

What should I tell my child about coming into hospital?

The thought of coming into hospital might be worrying for children so please tell your child, and any brothers and sisters, as much as they can understand before they visit us.

  • Be clear and honest
  • Tell your child as much as you can about what will happen
  • Use simple words
  • Answer any questions truthfully
  • Try to make the experience positive by telling them about the hospital and the environment
  • Tell them that other children will also be at the hospital and how they might make new friends.

When should I tell my child?

This will depend on your child's age.

  • Toddlers may not understand time. Tell them at least the day before so that they understand they are coming into hospital
  • Pre-school age - tell them at least a week before as they may enjoy 'hospital play'
  • Older children - give them as much time as possible. They may need time to think things through and want to ask questions.

More help

Preparing for hospital together with your child can help, for example packing the hospital bag and reading books together. 'Hospital play' and drawing pictures together can also help and may encourage your child to ask questions and voice any concerns they may have.

We have also prepared a useful checklist for you and we have a section of our site aimed specifically at children - why not have a look with them?

For more help, contact Action for Sick Children, a children's healthcare charity. 

In your words...

"One of the things that struck us during the course of my son's treatment was the sheer number of clinical professionals involved."

Michael Cokerham, father of Phineas whose life was saved from an infection by staff at Evelina London.

Coming for an operation

If your child is coming to have an operation, we recommend that you watch our short films with your child:

What happens before your operation?

What happens on the day of your operation?