The Little Extra’s We Take
Until you have spent time in the hospital, it’s really hard to know what extras to bring with you. That’s why I have been writing these posts. Among friends, I am the ‘go-to’ person for info on what you need when you’re doing hospital time, so this extras list is something that has been emailed out time and again. I wish no-one ever needed it.
Some things on this list may be expected, others may surprise you. If you have anything that you think should go on the list for parents, please let me know.
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Pillow: You will have access to one on the ward but sometimes your own pillow makes sleep easier.
Cuddly toys, comfort items for your child – if ever there is a time for them, it’s now.
Tissues: you will need them, sometimes for your nose – mostly for tears.
Something to read, books, magazines…you name it you’ll be desperate for it come a wide-awake 3 am.
Notepad and pens: Write down questions you have, the names of the nurses and surgeons and any concerns you have about your child’s condition.
This whole situation is stressful and the memory is one of the first things the body sacrifices so it can function. Having it written down helps. Ask the nurses ANYTHING and if can’t remember something ask them again – they don’t mind at all.
Feel free to download my free printable Hospital Daily Log if you think it might be helpful.
Food and Drink
You may be shocked to know that most hospitals do not provide any food or drink for parents, unless you’re a breastfeeding mother. The hospital cafeteria always has food, but it also has opening hours and is shut overnight – not great if your child is admitted at 10 p.m. and you haven’t eaten for hours. That means you need to have access to your own food supplies and ones that can fit in your child’s bedside table make life a lot easier.
A few things we always take with us for planned hospital stays are:
Long-life milk –have some small containers, keep them in the bedside drawer. Milk is the first thing to go missing from the parent’s kitchen, so, by all means, buy fresh stuff…but keep long life backups in your bedside drawer as extras in case you or a fellow parent needs them.
Coffee/Tea/Hot Chocolate: I bring all three, sometimes it’s not me who needs them and being able to offer a cuppa to a desperate parent is a small kindness (see: The Day Your Child Is Rushed To Hospital ) that can make life easier for them.
Check out your local Poundland, Home Bargains, Wilko or 99p store for packs of cups pre-filled with coffee/tea/hot chocolate or soup mixes. When you’re leaving the hospital, ask and see if any of the new parents need any of your extras – it saves you packing them and you can check off a random act of kindness from your list.
Storable Food: When the canteen is open you can get real food, but it pays to prepare for the fact that you may not be able to get out to get anything. Noodle cups, Pasta Snacks, Cup a Soup, Cereal Bars, Muesli Bars , Porridge Pots – none of these are things that anyone would consider gourmet, but having these in your bedside cupboard on the worst day of your life can make them seem like heaven! Anything you can eat without cooking, that won’t spoil or that you just need to add boiling water too will work.
If your child is going to be on the ward for more than a few days, you may be able to get access to charity houses like The Sick Children’s Trust or Ronald McDonald House. Check with your Ward Coordinator to see if you are eligible.
Parental favourites on the wards were
Pasta and sauce packets (Batchelors etc)
Noodle pots (Snack Pots, Batchelors etc)
Smash – powdered mashed potato and baked beans or tuna.
Tinned meals like beans, stews, curry etc – take a can opener!!!
Couscous can be a life saver – pack some, add a veg stock melt/cubes, twice as much water as couscous, wait 10 mins and you have a meal! It’s not 5 food groups, but it fills you up and keeps you going until morning.
Chocolate: not that this needs explanation, but being in hospital is crap and chocolate is sometimes all that stands between you and sobbing in the shower! I take chocolate – I still sob in the shower. Hospital time is tough no matter how many times you do it.
Squash to add to water if you like it. We take a big bottle and it never goes to waste.
It’s hard to know what to call this section because it encompasses a lot, so tools seemed to fit as these things will help you survive your stay.
Knife, fork and spoon – disposable is fine but we take plastic picnic ware ones from the 99p shop.
Disposable plates that can go in the microwave – don’t rely on the hospital to supply them, a lot of places don’t have anything for parents. Paper plates do quite well in the microwave, packs of 50 are dirt cheap.
A microwave bowl with a lid. I have used one of these in a single hospital day for cereal, pasta & sauce, couscous and to sterilise baby bottles (steriliser tablets = genius!). It’s a workhorse you’ll be glad to have.
Cups: insulated ones for hot and pint glasses for cold – again, disposable is best.
A small bottle of washing up liquid to wash your bowl/cutlery if you need to.