Preparing for your child's hospital stay

Getting organised before your child’s hospital stay means you can focus on what’s important once you’re there.

It’s normal to be a little nervous before your child goes to hospital, but preparing and getting organised can help reduce stress for both of you.

Here are our top tips to prepare for your child’s hospital stay.


Adult holding child's hand in hospital

Know what to expect

Learn about the procedure your child is having and get familiar with the logistics of the hospital so you know what to expect—for example where to park and where you’ll need to go on the day. It’s worth checking out the hospital’s website and making a list of any additional questions you have for your doctor or hospital staff. For example, some hospitals have volunteers who can help if you need a break or a little extra support. If you meet with the anaesthetist before the procedure, you can discuss whether it’s a good idea to stay in the room.

Should you stay while your child is given anaesthetic?

Depending on your child’s age and how calm you are, it can be reassuring for your child to have a parent in the room. But if you’re particularly anxious, your child might become more anxious or upset, which can make the process more difficult. In some cases, the anaesthetist may ask you to leave or request that you don’t come in.

Staying with your child while they’re given anaesthetic can be confronting and you might feel emotional. It can help to know what to expect: it’s normal for them to go limp or twitch or become unconscious very quickly. Their breathing may become loud, or their eyes may roll back. While these kinds of reactions can seem strange or feel distressing, they are all normal, so don’t panic.

Organise support

If you have other children, organise care for them, whether it’s your partner, a family member or a babysitter. Ask for and accept help from family or friends. The less you have to worry about chores or other activities, the more time and energy you’ll be able to put into supporting your child in hospital.

Plan for the trip home

It can be helpful to have two adults for the ride home. If you go by car, one person can drive while the other stays with your child. Even if your child is feeling unwell, make sure they are buckled securely in their car seat. If you’re taking public transport, an extra set of hands can be helpful since your child may be more prone to motion sickness.

Make plans for time off work and school

Talk to your doctor about what to expect for the recovery, and how much time your child will likely need off school, childcare or extracurricular activities such as sport. If you are employed, discuss your leave entitlements and ask about flexible arrangements.

Let their school or childcare know

Teachers can help your child prepare, and friends and classmates may want to know so that they can offer support.

Stock up on recovery foods

If your child is having their tonsils or adenoids out or having a dental procedure, consider stocking up on foods to soothe their throat or mouth when they arrive home. These can include ice blocks, icy poles, jelly, ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Fill your freezer

Have some favourite foods ready-made in the freezer to make life a little easier. Soups, stews, lasagne, curries, beans, chickpeas and tomato-based sauces all freeze well. One idea is to make double portions of everything you cook now, and pop the leftovers in the freezer.

Just remember that your child might not be able to eat certain foods while they’re recovering, for example, spicy, sour or acidic foods after ear, nose and throat surgery.

Browse our freezer-friendly recipes.

Pack ahead of time

There’s a lot to remember, so download this packing checklist to get everything organised.

Attack the washing

Do the laundry before you go and set aside plenty of comfortable clothing for your child’s recovery.


Check your health cover

Before you go to hospital, double check if your child’s surgery or treatment is included in your cover and find out what your excess will be. If you’re not sure, call us on 132 331.

Ask for a breakdown of charges

Before going to hospital, ask each doctor and the hospital for a breakdown of all the costs, and get it in writing. This is known as ‘Informed Financial Consent'. This should list the fees for each doctor involved in your child’s treatment – their surgeon, assistant surgeon, and anaesthetist – and any other related costs.

You can reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket costs for in-hospital specialists’ charges by choosing a doctor who participates in GapCover*. To find out, you’ll need to ask each doctor upfront if they’ll participate in Medibank’s GapCover for each part of your child’s treatment.

Find out about the costs involved in common hospital treatments like tonsil and adenoids removal

Set up a recovery area at home

Chances are your child will be in bed or on the lounge for at least the first few days, so it’s good to prepare a comfortable area where they can recover. Stock up on music, podcasts, movies or TV shows, and other activities that can help keep their mind off discomfort or pain. It’s also a good idea to keep books or toys within easy reach.

Don’t smoke around your child

It’s especially important to prevent your child from being exposed to tobacco smoke in the lead-up to their surgery. Second hand smoke has been linked with an increased risk of breathing problems during and after anaesthesia.

Get help to quit – A number of free services are available to help you quit smoking and will increase the chance that you’re successful. Call the Quitline® on 13 78 48 or visit

Is your child feeling unwell?

Make sure any infections are cleared up before the procedure. If you think your child may be getting sick just before their surgery, let your doctor or the hospital know, as it may need to be postponed until they’re better.

Follow the instructions for fasting

You’ll be given instructions on fasting before surgery. Although fasting can be challenging, it’s essential to follow the instructions exactly. If there’s any food or liquid in your child’s stomach when they receive the anaesthetic, they might vomit or regurgitate it, which can cause serious damage to their lungs.


Looking for something else?

Visit our Hospital Assist homepage for a range of tools and advice to help you at every stage of your hospital journey.

Things you need to know

~ OSHC members should call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.

While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees). 

* Doctors can choose to participate on a per claim, per treatment and per patient basis. You may be treated by more than one doctor (eg. surgeon and anaesthetist) and participation is at each individual doctor’s discretion. GapCover doesn’t apply to diagnostic services, out of hospital medical services and services not included under your policy. GapCover doesn’t apply to excesses and/or co-payments. Out of pocket costs may still apply. Please refer to the Membership Guide at