I've been blessed incredibly to (previous to November) only have ever stayed in a hospital after the births of three babies. I've been the "patient", but have been healthy, & entertained with a new life and the visitors a new baby brings. So I was shamefully ill-equipped to stay the two nights on my own with Theo after his surgery. I had no idea what to bring and what not to bring. Just in case someone else out there finds themselves in this situation, I jotted down a few notes on what is needed:
Things to bring:
- Toys: my baby was bed-bound & bored. I only brought the chew toy giraffe that hangs from his car seat handle. And by "brought" I mean that thing is always attached to his car seat, so it came with us. It did work well, as I could velcro it to the hospital crib so it couldn't be thrown down on the floor. So bring things that can hook on if your child likes to toss things.
- Baby Books: There's a lot of still, quiet time to enjoy stories with your baby.
- Blankets: it's nice to have one of their favorite snuggle blankets since they have to spend the whole time in bed. I also brought a blanket to leave in the car so when it was time to leave I could put a fresh, non-hospital-germ-exposed blanket on him.
- A lot of pacifiers: Like, everyone you own. So many of them end up on the floor, which, in a hospital, deems them unusable. I could've used three times the number I brought.
- Toiletries: Toothbrushes for you and your baby, your deodorant, face wash and anything else that helps you feel human.
- Pillow: If the hospital offers you one, it won't help very much. Bring your own so you can at least lay awake on the fold out chair thing slightly more comfortably all night long.
- Slippers: That way you don't have to choose between putting your shoes on a million times to leave the room or roaming the hospital halls in just your socks. I hate shoes.
- Paints: Or another hobby that you theoretically enjoy, but rarely have the time to do (like showering). You've got nothing but time in the hospital.
- Something to Read: Flipping TV channels is the worst! Apparently "The Bachelor" is still on... That's just sad... I'm too spoiled by our on-demand TV habits to search for something not too mind numbing to watch.
- A Pen & Notebook: I used mine for when I was studying the Bible & to catch up on my "what the kids are doing" journal.
- Nail Polish: I actually had time for it to dry!
- Cards: I wrote this down while I was in the hospital, but can not currently imagine why I wanted a deck of cards??? I actually think I meant greeting or thank you cards, as there was actually time present to jot down how much I appreciate those who mean so much to me.
- Underwear: Oh, you think this goes without saying? Well, perhaps I subconsciously wanted to ensure the necessity of a Target run.
- Lotion: Hospitals are very dry and washing your hands and your child with surgical scrub multiple times can tear your skin up!
- Snacks & Drinks: I had great intentions of eating delicious food that's not accessible to me in my small town... Instead I just went hungry between the three meals I managed to escape for in the two and a half days. Since you may have to wait to meet with the doctors for an undisclosed amount of time, having snacks and drinks on hand is smart. Think breakfast, late night, and waiting room snacks.
Things to leave:
- Diapers: I brought enough diapers to last two babies four days... And the hospital generously provides them. And to a mom free diapers=best diapers.
- Wipes: The hospital provided these as well! They were gentle, thick, hypoallergenic, and flushable! They even gave us a pack for the road.
- Jeans: Comfy sweat pants are more than sufficient. I packed a pair of jeans and never once thought that sitting around the hospital would be improved by wearing denim.
- Running shoes: Again, this is probably common knowledge that parents staying with their hospital-bound children wouldn't be able to sneak in a run...But I brought mine just in case. The most cardio I snuck in was taking the six floors of steps every time I had to go out to the car.
- Pump: Theo was still nursing when he had surgery and had to do two days of I-V or clear fluids only. I actually forgot my pump, and by the second afternoon I was really regretting that. The hospital had an amazing machine & sterile, one-user parts that they offered to me as a nursing mom. They even provided bottles with caps and labels to safely store the milk in their refrigerators.
- Medicine: Any medications that the child routinely takes (even a multi-vitamin) as well as anything necessary after the procedure are provided & administered by the hospital.
- Bottles: The hospital took complete care of my baby's meals just as he needed. Including the bottles for his clear fluids two days out. The exception to this would be if you have a child who is extremely particular about what they drink out of. In that case, you'll want to bring what your child will be most comfortable with.
***Disclaimer: This is simply things that the Children's Hospital provided or didn't provide for us. I would assume that experiences will change from hospital to hospital (especially if you have to bring your child to a hospital which doesn't specialize in children). I hope this list is helpful to at least help you get started packing. Feel free to talk to your surgical prep team, if the hospital stay is being planned, for specifics.
Anything that other hospital stay parents love to bring or know is unnecessary? Please share your knowledge in the comments below!