What to expect when your child goes into hospital

When will your child eat? Where will you stay? What happens afterwards? Your questions answered…


What happens when you arrive with your child?

The admissions procedure varies from hospital to hospital, and according to the treatment your child will be having. 


First thing is make sure you leave in plenty of time, so you can arrive at the time you’re given, even if it feels like you’re left waiting around for hours afterwards.

There’s usually lots of paperwork to do, and you can expect to find yourself answering the same questions several times. 

Even though it’s repetitive make sure you give full answers each time you’re asked.

Your child will usually have his temperature and blood pressure taken. Then he may be given a bed and shown around the ward so that you know where the toilets and the kitchen are, and you’ll meet some of the nurses and doctors who will be treating your child.

Help him settle into his new surroundings by doing some simple prep work before you get to hospital. Also, use our hospital checklists to make sure you know what to bring with you.

When will my child have their meals?

Your child will usually have three meals a day.  If he’s hungry in between, snacks may be available from the ward kitchen or for you to buy from the hospital café.  

Breakfast is usually at around 8am, lunch at midday and tea at around 5pm. 

If your child is due to have surgery, you’ll be told when he can have his last food and drink, which may be before the time you’re due to come in. 

Can you stay in with your child overnight?

It’s normal now for parents to stay the night with their child. The arrangements for this vary depending on the hospital, but many wards have facilities so you can sleep next to your child’s bed.

It’s usually only possible for one person at a time to stay. If you’re not able to stay, always let your child know when you’re leaving and when you’ll be back, and make sure you are there at the time you say.

What happens when your child is ready to leave?

It’s a great relief when the doctors or nurses tell you your child is ready to come home. 

Your child may need to have a supply of treatment for home. You may be given the medicines directly, or a prescription that you can take to the hospital pharmacy or your local chemist. 

Make sure you’re clear about how many times a day he needs to take the medicine and for how long. Write everything down. You may think you’ll remember, but there’s so much going on it’s always best to jot it down.

If your child needs a follow-up appointment you might arrange it then and there, or the hospital may send you a letter with a date and time. 

Don’t forget to ask what you should do if your child seems unwell over the next few days.

How might your child react after a hospital stay?

All children react differently to being in hospital. 

Your child might be a little less well behaved than usual afterwards, or have tantrums or nightmares.

This is a natural reaction, so give him lots of love and attention, and encourage him to settle back into his everyday life. He will gradually get back to normal.

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