Packing for an Extended Hospital Stay

Your child was just diagnosed with cancer. Your baby is three weeks early. Your family was involved in an accident. This was not the plan. 

Finding out your child needs immediate medical attention requiring an extended hospital stay is overwhelming and stressful. However, gathering the right items to have during your stay can help make it less chaotic. 

What to Pack in Your Child’s Hospital Bag

If time permits, pack a bag in advance of heading to the hospital. Keep it handy with the items you’ll need so you can easily grab it in an emergency. If your stay is unplanned, ask for support from friends and family to help collect any items you may not have had time to grab. Below is a list of items that may be useful for an extended hospital stay: 

  • Clothing:  Shirts, sweaters, pants, shorts, undergarments, pajamas, and jackets. Certain treatments could cause a change in body temperature, so pack a variety of options to ensure you’re comfortable. 
  • Things to provide comfort and warmth: Blankets, socks, slippers and robes, extra pillows, even a favorite stuffed animal. Having familiar items on-hand can help the hospital stay feel more like home. If you were not able to pack these items or your hospital stay was unexpected, ask a family member or friend to mail or deliver a few of your child’s favorite things.
  • Entertainment activities: Books, a journal, pens, coloring books, crayons, electronic devices, charging cords, favorite toys, movies, or music. Having activities your child enjoys can help maintain a routine and boost spirits. Try having dedicated time for entertainment each day, and do tasks together like creating a playlist to help pass the time. 
  • Snacks: Crackers, granola bars, water, Gatorade, trail mix, nuts, bread, or peanut butter. Pack a mix of your favorite foods to provide that familiar feeling of home, and nutrient-rich snacks to keep you and your family healthy. Don’t forget a reusable water bottle and spare change for the vending machines.
  • School and work items: Laptops, tablets, iPads, notebooks, pencils, camera, and microphone. Keeping up with schoolwork can help kids feel connected to their classmates and ensure they won’t fall behind while they are in the hospital. Check with your school or employer to see if these items are available for you to borrow and to create a plan for while you’re out.  
  • Organization and planning materials: Notebook, calendar, or folders. Or, if you prefer, you can utilize these same tools offered on your phone, tablet, or computer. Having a system to stay organized can help you keep track of upcoming appointments, notes from the doctor, insurance information and billing dates.
  • Hygiene products: Chapstick, toothbrush, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, hairbrush, deodorant, and hair care products. While many hospitals will provide these items, having these toiletry items ready and available can keep you feeling like your best self and will ensure you stay healthy.

When the Unexpected Happens, Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Antonio is Here

Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Antonio provides support and temporary living accommodations for families with critically ill and injured children who are receiving essential medical services in San Antonio. Children and their families are eligible to stay in our House if they are receiving inpatient or outpatient services, as long as they live 20 miles or more from the medical facility where they receive treatment. 

Families can stay in our Houses for days, months or years while awaiting services, such as life-saving transplants, receiving treatments such as chemotherapy, or attending rehabilitation programs that are  unavailable in their hometowns. Some families arrive with just the clothes on their backs after an accident or emergency. 

When the unexpected happens, we’re there to make sure that no one will have to sleep in a chair, eat a meal from a vending machine, or try to find a snack when the cafeteria is closed. Your donation ensures families have a home away from home, even when they didn’t plan on it.