Children's Hospital Colorado

An Overnight Stay or Inpatient Visit at Children's Hospital Colorado

Preparing yourself for a hospital stay

A doctor with gray hair and wearing a white lab coat looks at a kid with no hair, wearing a blue and gray baseball shirt, surrounded by blankets.

It's natural to be anxious about any hospital stay, even when you know you are in great hands. But we want to put your mind at ease, because if you are nervous, your child will pick up on it. So, do everything you can to feel as calm and confident as possible. 

Learn as much as you can about where you are going, what you'll need to do and what will happen while you are here. Our experience has shown the more parents know about what to expect, the better parents and kids feel.

Understand your child's care and condition

Talk with your child's doctor or staff before you check in. Go over procedures or tests in detail, so you'll know exactly what to expect. Use this website or our Family Health Library to do some research on your own.

Learn your way around our facilities

While no place will ever be as comfortable as your own home, we try very hard to make sure all of the necessary amenities are here for you. Depending on your child's treatment, you'll probably be able to stay with your child and your child will be able to have visits from friends and other family members. Use the About Your Visit section of this site to learn all you need to know.

Take time before your visit to learn how to get to the hospital, where to park and where to go once you get here.

Meeting other patients and families

You and your child will undoubtedly meet other children and parents at the hospital. Some of them may be more ill than your child. That's often more scary for adults than children. Kids have a unique ability to look beyond illness. They play, laugh and make new friends. They act like kids. That's why we have so many playrooms throughout the hospital.

Take care of yourself, too

Don't underestimate the toll stress and worry can take on you. Spend time with family and friends. Make sure you are well rested and well fed. Your child will be counting on you for support and comfort.

Preparing your child for a hospital stay

The more your child knows about what to expect, the more comfortable and relaxed he will be. Be sure to include the entire family in one of your pre-hospital talks so your child doesn't feel alone and the rest of the family understands as well.

Here are some things you might want to discuss with your child before the visit:

  • Be honest: it is especially important to let your child know that some things might hurt. But let them know it is normal to be scared and it is okay to cry. They need to express their feelings, ask questions and also be comforted that things will get better.
  • Explain why: it is important that your child understand the reason hospitalization is needed, what the doctors and nurses will do, and make sure your child does not feel like they have done anything wrong for this to happen to them. Make sure they understand that the hospital stay is temporary.
  • Who you'll meet: Talk about the type of healthcare professionals they might meet during their visit (doctors, nurses, therapists) and that nurses are on duty around the clock to make sure they get better quickly.
  • How you'll feel: Discuss how she might expect to feel during her visit, whether she may be tired, have an upset stomach, or where it might hurt.
  • What hospitals are like: Many children find it reassuring to talk about the similarities between the hospital and home such as regular meals, chances to play and having one's own bed.
  • Other patients: Talk about some of the other children that your child may meet. It can be unsettling for any of us to see people who are sick, but remind your child that other kids at the hospital are there to get better too, and that they like to play and laugh just like your child.
  • Books that help: Pick up a few books from the library or bookstore that talk about going to the doctor or the hospital and read them together. Review a list of Children's Hospital Colorado's favorite books for children when preparing to visit the doctor or hospital. These include such favorites as Curious George Goes to the Hospital and This is a Hospital, Not a Zoo! Our list includes books for children visiting the doctor, hospital or having surgery – and also books for brothers, sisters and friends to help understand what is happening.

Questions to ask when your child is in the hospital 

When you're in the hospital with your child, you may hesitate to speak up or ask questions. This video empowers parents, patients and other advocates to speak up in the hospital room by offering phrases and questions that help everyone communicate. Use this script next time you are in the hospital to make sure you are included and understand what is going on with your child's care.