Visiting Cincinnati Children's

  • Tips to Prepare Your Child

    Children are usually less frightened when they know what to expect. You may want to prepare your child by talking about the hospital. Give honest, age-appropriate information that your child can understand. Depending on your child’s age, it may be helpful to play hospital or doctor, read books about hospitals, or keep a journal or scrapbook.

    Our Child Life specialists can help your child with special needs prepare.
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    + Infants (newborn to 12 months old)

    Bring familiar objects that will comfort your baby:

    • Favorite blanket, toy or pacifier
    • Familiar bottle or cup for after the procedure

    + Toddlers (1 to 3 years old)

    • Allow choices, such as which stuffed animal to bring or what to wear.
    • To help put your child at ease, allow staff to look at your ears or listen to a stuffed animal's heart before they examine your child.
    • Help our staff explain what they will do before they touch your child.

    + Preschoolers (3 to 5 years old)

    • Talk to your child about the hospital.
    • Play is how preschoolers learn. Playing hospital or doctor is very helpful.
    • Be honest. For example, don’t tell your child that nothing will hurt.
    • Give simple explanations of things your child might see. Some suggestions include:
      • Stretcher: “Bed with wheels”
      • Blood pressure cuff: “Arm hug”
      • Anesthesia: “Sleepy air”
      • Induction room: “Sleepy air room”
      • Recovery room: “Wake-up room”

    + Elementary School-Age Children (5 to 12 years old)

    • Prepare your child about a week ahead of the visit.
    • Allow your child the opportunity to ask questions and talk about concerns.
    • Be honest. For example, don’t tell your child that nothing will hurt.
    • Prepare your child for things that might be seen after the procedure, such as stitches or bandages, or IV tubes.
    • Give simple explanations of things your child might see. Some suggestions include:
      • Stretcher: “Bed with wheels”
      • Blood pressure cuff: “Arm hug”
      • Anesthesia: “Sleepy air”
      • Induction room: “Sleepy air room”
      • Recovery room: “Wake-up room”

    + Teens (12 to 18 years old)

    • Teenagers are learning independence and decision-making.
    • Talk about what will be done and why. Encourage your teen to ask questions and participate in decision-making.
    • Be honest. For example, don’t say that nothing will hurt or make promises you can’t keep. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say you will find out.
    • Encourage your teen to ask the doctor or nurse questions.
    • Respect your teen's need for privacy.