Let’s start with the basics.
When your child is in the hospital, most people send you flowers, balloons, and cards.
Flowers are not typically allowed in the ICU. Maybe if your child is recovering at home and loves flowers, then sure, that’s a great thing to send. But in the hospital, they are either not allowed, or they take up very valuable counter space. Let’s stay away from flowers.
Balloons and cards are popular. Cards are great. Kids like to wallpaper their rooms with them in the hospital. Many hospitals have online cards you can fill out free. They deliver them to patients at least once a day.
My Casey loved balloons. She was always excited to receive them. The nurses were not always as happy, though! Balloons float. So they can easily block monitors or IV lines. If your child likes balloons, be sure to keep them out of the way.
FOOD! Some hospitals have great cafeterias. But there is only so much hospital food you can handle. And cafeteria costs can add up. Food gift certificates for nearby eateries (that deliver) are great gifts. Many hospitals have freezers and microwaves families can use. Grab a few frozen meals or sandwich stuff for the family.
Coffee is a good option, too. No one gets much sleep in the hospital. We need all the energy boosters we can get. If you are going to visit a child in the hospital, stop by Target or Wal-mart. Pick up:
... and throw in something fun and comforting for their child.
Above all, let your friend know you are thinking of them. It helps them get through the stay.
Now, for your own Survival Kit:
Some hospitals don’t have great cell or Internet service. So find things that engage your interest offline. Magazines, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or maybe you like to knit, draw, or journal.
You want things for your child to do as well. Many hospitals have Child Life Specialists who can help bring in activities for your kid. But having something just for them is always a good idea. Legos, coloring books, paper dolls, movies, whatever your child enjoys most.
Include some comfort items. Soft blankets, maybe a smell you like-your own pillows, your child’s favorite stuffed animals, pictures of loved ones.
It's OK if it looks like you are moving in. Sometimes we would take so much stuff people looked at us like we were crazy. Those over-prepared stays always went the smoothest.
This article offers more information on preparing for long hospital stays.