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How to Prepare

Being hospitalized, going to the doctor, or having a procedure can be scary for a child, siblings and even parents. Children adjust better when they are given age-appropriate information and when they have family with them.

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How to Prepare for Your Child’s Hospitalization

Being hospitalized, going to the doctor, or having a procedure can be scary for a child, siblings and even parents. 

Make sure you read the Children's Hospital handbook (PDF)

Children adjust better when they are given age-appropriate information and when they have family with them.
We encourage you to be with your child as much as possible, ask lots of questions and find support from family or friends. Please ask your child’s nurse or social worker for assistance or for more tips and information about how to prepare for your child’s hospitalization. 

What to Bring: For Children

Be sure all personal items are labeled with your child’s name

  • Appropriate size car seat and base for discharge
  • Pajamas, slippers, bathrobe, comfortable clothes, shoes and socks
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, brush and shampoo
  • For infants, the hospital will supply daily care needs including diapers, food and bottles - parents bring any additional baby-care items
  • A “security” item like a stuffed animal or blanket
  • A list of child’s medicines (including herbal remedies and supplements) with current dosage amounts and pharmacy phone number
  • A list of all allergies to medicine and food
  • Hospital records from any other hospital 
  • Any special devices or equipment needed (eyeglasses, hearing aids, contacts, wheelchair, etc.)
  • Older children and teens may want to bring books, magazines, videos, cosmetics, battery-operated radios or MP3 players with headphones and school work.

What to Bring: For Parents

  • Your child’s Social Security card
  • Your child’s health insurance information including insurance or Medical Assistance card
  • Your child’s primary care doctor’s name (usually your child’s doctor), mailing address and phone number
  • Your child’s referring doctor’s name and mailing address, if different from their primary care doctor
  • Your child’s pharmacy name and phone number. If you plan to get your child’s prescriptions filled at the UVA Outpatient Pharmacy, please bring cash, check or credit card to pay for any deductibles or co-pays
  • Legal guardian or custody papers, if necessary
  • Any medications that you take
  • Any important phone numbers (home, work, mobile phone)
  • A change of comfortable clothes and shoes for overnight stays with your child
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, razors, lotion, brush, etc.
  • Backpack or small suitcase to hold your clothes and personal items
  • Small projects for quiet time like a book or craft
  • Money for your meals in the dining areas
  • Cash (ATM) machines are available in the University Hospital Cafeteria and the Primary Care Center. Credit cards are widely accepted by our services
  • Prepaid phone card
  • Change for pay phones and vending machines
  • Driver’s license or other form of photo identification
  • Any forms requested by the Admissions Department
  • Your child’s signed advance directive or living will if they are 18 years of age or older. If you have a yellow-colored Durable Do Not Resuscitate order, please bring the original.

Nursing mothers should bring expressed milk in containers labeled with the time and date it was expressed. Please pack containers in ice and keep as cold as possible. The hospital will provide refrigeration, electric breast pumps and all necessary supplies to continue breastfeeding throughout your child’s hospitalization. Please notify your child’s nurse if you are breastfeeding.

Please Do Not Bring

  • Other children if possible (your child will need your undivided attention on the day of admission)
  • Electrical appliances such as hair dryers or curling irons
  • Valuables or large amounts of money; the hospital does not assume responsibility in cases of loss or damage. If you do have valuables please send your valuables home with your family members. If not possible, please see the security desk in the Pediatric Emergency Room for safekeeping
  • Remote controlled or friction powered toys
  • Rubber or latex balloons due to the risk of choking or suffocation; any balloons your child may receive as gifts should be made of Mylar or foil

Please check with your child’s nurse regarding any special restrictions before bringing gifts of flowers or food.

Be Prepared to Let Us Know

  • Diet restrictions and preferences
  • Language interpretation and communication assistance needs
  • Religious or cultural preferences
  • Special needs of your child and family
  • Any visitor restrictions or safety concerns

Infection Control

  • Infection prevention and control is extremely important. We use gloves, gowns, masks and/or eye protection based on the condition of the patient. Patients, visitors and staff must follow any instructions posted on the patient’s door. 
  • Visitors should not come to the hospital if sick.
  • Anyone coming in contact with your child should wash his or her hands.
  • Only patients and their parents should use the restrooms in patient rooms. All else should use public restrooms.


The Children’s Hospital offers specially trained volunteers to support you and your child. Volunteers help children by reading books, playing games, doing arts and crafts, watching a movie together, or just visiting with them through active listening. Volunteers can also visit with your child while you take a much-needed break to have dinner, a shower, or just take a walk! Volunteers wear bright green aprons and a Volunteer ID badge.

Going Home

From the time you arrive, your health care team is working towards returning your child to your home and community in good health with your child’s medical needs met. Please help us prepare for discharge by letting us know in advance if you need any discharge prescriptions, questions answered, school or work excuses, or transportation assistance. Our goal is to discharge you and your child by noon. We encourage your presence and participation. These things will help us prevent any delays in getting you home.