A few weeks ago I got the random email that you occasionally get when part of the Nutripaeds team. The email was something along the lines of “Dan, we had a thought that it might be nice to give our readers an idea on what to pack when their little ones have to go in to hospital. Seeing that you have more experience at this than all of us put together, it’s your baby to write. Good luck.” I love being part of this team!
So as I do seem to have a small amount of experience in this not so glamorous field, here’s my take. I base this on toddlers and under as this is where my experience is, I have also broken it down into two parts; baby and parent to make life easy.
What to pack for your bundle of joy:
Food – baby formula of choice or favorite snacks. The hospital will provide all of this but there is generally a bit of a delay between admission and it arriving, so take your own to cover these few hours.
Nappies and associated bits and bobs – plenty of them as in our experience the volume of nappies often goes up with all the meds. Don’t forget your nappy cream of choice, wet wipes, and nappy bags
Long sleeved baby grows (without legs) – we generally find that Mitch will spend most of his stay in these alone, so we take plenty of them. Why no legs? Because we find that taking stats on the feet is easier than the hands, it gives easy access for the nurses.
Tracksuit pants – again no feet for the reasons just mentioned
Socks – we need to keep their feet warm and its easier to remove these than a baby grow
Favorite blanket – an absolute must as it gives them a sense of security
Favorite toys and cuddly toys – it will keep them amused and also give a sense of familiarity while in a strange place. The hospital has a number of toys for the kids to play with, but if you are in isolation you are limited to one or two toys which must then stay with you until they have been thoroughly disinfected.
Bath kit including a few toys – your child needs to be cleaned daily and bath time keeps the routines going that you might have at home
What to pack for the parent/s.
It’s likely that one of you will be staying overnight or at least spending a lot of hours at the hospital, so you need to think of yourself too:
Sense of humor and patience – you’ll probably need both in abundance as having a sick kid requires it
Healthy snacks – most hospitals will provide the parents with meals for a small fee per meal, but believe me there is nothing better than fresh food. If you are there for more than a few days then ask friends and family to bring home cooked meals to you, it is so worth it. Don’t forget a bottle of water.
Comfortable and warm clothes – I treat it as I would a long haul flight, sleeping sat up in an air-conditioned room is not ideal, so to be warm and comfortable makes things a lot better. The hospital provides bedding, so no need to bring your own.
Toiletries – general and standard stuff including shower kit. We also tend to put heavy importance on things like lip ice and moisturizer as the air-conditioning can dry out your skin, maybe also look at a light nasal spray.
Book/Tablet – there will be long periods where the snot gobbler is sleeping, I suggest you also sleep then if you can, but if you can’t books and tablets will keep you going. If you are taking a tablet don’t forget the charger for this and your phone
Money – seems obvious but on a few occasions we have gotten to the hospital, been hungry, and realized that we forgot to draw cash on our way, so it’s worth remembering.
Finally I’d say just pack in some common courtesy. It still blows my mind how the minute a kid goes into hospital, all common courtesy exits stage left. Treat the nurses well, keep your bed/area tidy as you would at home, and have a little respect for those around you as this will go a long way to making your and everyone else’s stay a lot easier.