Be prepared – What to pack for a hospital visit with your child

Photo by CDC on Unsplash
01 March 2024

No matter the season, colds, flu, Corona, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, ear infections, conjunctivitis, sinusitis, chicken pox or whatever it is, they all seem to come with a fever, and with a fever comes the uncertainty. Do I take them to A&E, or not?

I can’t answer that for you, that is a case-by-case decision, but it is always best to be on the safe side, and you must never worry about annoying a doctor, always consult professional help if you are unsure what to do.

If you do decide to take your little, or bigger one to A&E (Accident & Emergency room/Spoed/Urgences), here is a suggested packing list:

Packing list for A&E:

  • Baby’s ID card & vaccination book, if they have one
  • Bank card to pay for parking
  • Cash for vending machines
  • Phone charger
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Pre-measured formula and sterilised bottles (Most A&E departments should be able to provide you with water, but maybe not, and it’s best to bring the formula itself. They probably won’t be able to sterilise your bottle, so bring a few prepared, you don’t know how long you will need to be there for.)
  • Games / colouring / books / tablet / stickers (can also be used to decorate a boring hospital plaster)
  • Whatever drink your little one likes, in case they need to give a urine sample or blood (dehydration makes it harder to give blood)
  • Perdolan and Nurofen (Gasthuisberg, for example only offers Dafalgan, and some kids don’t like it)
  • Nappies will be provided, unless you want to bring your own

It can be helpful to have a note of all fevers and medicines given (how high the fever was, how long it lasted, what medicine did you give and did it help…).

For certain bugs, a list of stool type and frequency can also help to make a diagnosis.

If there is something you want to show the doctors, if there is blood in the stool perhaps, then take a photo and try to show scale. This is much more useful for a diagnosis than bringing a stool sample.

If your child is admitted to hospital:

For you:

  • Toiletries
  • Underwear
  • Nightwear: male and female nurses will be coming in through the night
  • Fresh clothes
  • A cardigan in case you get cold
  • Slippers or warm socks
  • Snacks or any food that you like to eat: parents are often not catered for in a child’s hospital room
  • Laptop (and charger) and / or a book: your child is sick and may often be asleep, you will want to stay close by at all times
  • It can be a lonely place so make sure your phone is fully charged so you can stay in contact with people.

Tip: the pillows can be a very bad quality, if possible, try to stuff two pillows into one pillow case.


Your child:

  • You can pack something for them to sleep in, but most likely they will be wearing something provided by the hospital
  • They will need socks and a cardigan though, hospital clothes never cover the feet and are mostly short sleeved
  • Toys / books, something to keep them entertained through all the hours you are in your room

If your baby has been admitted for an infection of unknown origin, you will not be allowed to leave your room to walk around or go to the parents’ lounge, so make sure you have enough to keep you both going for the duration.

The hospital will provide food / formula and can sterilise your bottles for you. They will also be able to provide a feeding pillow, so no need to think of things like this.

Knowing that you have everything you need takes a huge pressure off your shoulders. It is extremely difficult to have to leave your little one while you quickly go and buy yourself something to eat and, more often than not, you may just choose not to. You are important too, so be prepared and remember that it is always an option for someone to bring you a warm meal in the evening, partly for the company but also for the good food. Please don’t be shy to ask someone for this favour.

Just keep this list somewhere near, amend it to suit you, and will be prepared should you need it. Other than that, don’t even think of it!


By Abbi Vyncke

This article was slightly adapted from the version first published in the Autumn 2023 edition of the BCT’s Small talk magazine.


This article is about: hospital | sick child

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