Call it what you want – a coping kit, a survival kit—but we prefer a friendlier name—a comfort kit. You can think of it as a little piece of home, plus a little something to look forward to. If your child is in and out of the hospital frequently or ends up going with little notice, consider keeping a comfort kit packed to take along to the hospital. Here are some ideas for essentials to include:
1. The Basics
Imagine the difference between a hospital gown and your child’s favorite PJ’s. Changes of clothes (often worn instead of pajamas or gowns), a fun new toothbrush, favorite foods, pillow and pillowcase, and other self-care items can help your child bring comfort and normalcy to the hospital. Framed pictures of family and friends or even detachable posters from kid’s or teen’s magazines can make a hospital room much more warm and inviting.
2. Safety Item
Does your child have a blanket or stuffed animal that makes him or her feel safe? Make sure you bring it to the hospital! If it works for your child, consider bringing a special “hospital friend” who lives in the comfort kit and helps during your child’s visits. This is a special friend that the child looks forward to each hospital stay.
3. Favorite Toy/Book/Game
Ask yourself what one thing is guaranteed to distract and entertain your child. Pack it! There are times in the hospital when distraction or entertainment is the best medicine. Get your child involved in choosing—it gives them a sense of control.
4. New Toy/Book/Game
Hospital visits are probably not something that you or your child looks forward to. Including a new toy in the comfort kit will give your child something to anticipate.
5. Diary or Journal
Children with health challenges may struggle to “make sense” of their experience. Encouraging your child to keep a diary or journal while in the hospital can not only help them express their feelings, but can be something they read and reread later to help build story around their experience with their health challenges. Why not bring their copy of Digging Deep? Let them capture the moment or work through a difficult time by choosing a page that they feel like answering.