Knowing what to pack for hospital stays can be stressful. Individuals with disabilities might find themselves in the hospital more often than other individuals and this might be a situation you find yourself in often. If you have a hospital stay coming up, here are some things you should consider bringing with you the next time you are checking into the hospital.
Comforts from Home:
Unanimously when extended hospital stays were discussed with parents who have been through this, they all said to bring your own pillows and blankets from home. Sleeping in the hospital is going to be awful no matter what, and their bed for parents/guests are typically uncomfortable, but if you at least have your own pillow and blanket it makes the experience just a little less awful.
Other recommendations were to bring a cozy bathrobe, slippers, and lounging clothes/pajamas from home. If you’re going to be the main caretaker for a small child who will be in the hospital for an extended period of time, consider bringing lots of PJs that have buttons all the way up for all the cords and wires that they might need for monitoring. Your child also might enjoy their own pillow, blanket, and stuffed animal.
Electronics to Bring for a Long Hospital Stay:
If you’re going to be in the hospital for several weeks, this might not be the time to try and give up all screen time. You’re going to have many long hours to pass, especially if you’re with a child. Many children’s hospitals have iPads that kids can use from time to time, but consider bringing your own if you have one. Be sure to bring all the charging cords you’ll need as well. Some other items to consider bringing are movies or DVDs, an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook, and a Roku device to connect to the hospital TV for streaming movies and shows.
Food to Pack for the Hospital:
Most hospitals only provide food for the patients, meaning the caretakers often have to fend for themselves. Consider packing lots of snacks and foods that can be heated and prepared with hot water/microwave only. Some easy options are:
- Instant Oatmeal
- Granola Bars
- Dried Fruit/Nuts
- Fruit Snacks
- Applesauce/Fruit Pouches
You might even be able to Instacart groceries to the hospital or a Ronald McDonald House on the hospital campus so that you can order some groceries for a few days at a time to store in your room. Check with your hospital before you arrive or ask your nurses when you get there to see what accommodations might be available to you.
Activities for Kids During Hospital Stays:
If you’re trying to keep a child entertained during an extended hospital stay this could feel like a really hard job. Try to bring some small craft projects from a dollar store, or the Target Dollar Spot that your child can work on while they’re there, and of course try to spread them out so they last for your entire stay.
If you’re going to be in a children’s hospital they often have Child Life Specialists on staff who are there to make the experience better for your child. They too will often have games, toys, crafts, and other things for your child to do during their stay, of course it never hurts for you to bring some extra things to keep them busy as well.
Some small items you could pack in a backpack for your child are:
- Sensory toys such as fidget spinners, pop-its, etc…
- Coloring Books
- A long chapter book that you can read a chapter together each day
Make The Room Feel Like Home
Many parents recommended bringing some pictures of family members from home, especially if the child is only going to be with one parent/family member/caretaker throughout their stay. You could also draw some pictures together to hang on the wall to make the space feel more cozy.
Toiletries to Bring to the Hospital:
Hospitals do have some toiletries for patients and caretakers to use during stays, but you’ll feel so much better if you have your own things that you’re used to having on a daily basis. While most hospitals recommended packing light and not bringing your entire bathroom, consider bringing:
- Travel Size shampoo, conditioner, and body wash
- Light cosmetics if needed
- Nail Clippers
- Lip Balm
- Glasses, contacts, saline solution
Doing Laundry at the Hospital:
Most children’s hospitals have washers and dryers for parents to use while they are with their children for an extended stay. Be sure to confirm this before you arrive, but plan on bringing just a few comfortable outfits (maybe about five days worth), and then washing them as needed in the hospital machines. If your child is going for an inpatient rehab program, it’s often recommended for them to wear their own clothes as much as possible, so plan on bringing about five outfits for them as well and letting the nursing staff know when you need to do laundry and they should be able to help you with that process.