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10 Things to Bring on a Hospital Admission with Your Child with Special Needs

Alethea Mshar
Special needs mom and Blogger
12/05/16  4:05 PM PST
hospital admission

A hospital admission for your child with special needs can be both scary and exhausting. Plan ahead as much as you can for potential admissions and know what to bring to reduce stress on both you and your child.

My husband and I have stayed in the hospital with our son Benjamin many, many times. Some of these times were emergency situations, for which we had little time to prepare. Others were for scheduled surgeries which gave us time to plan ahead. I’ve done plenty of trial and error, and used more than my share of hospital-issued toothbrushes. I find that when I have just a few needs and comforts with me, sleeping on that vinyl pull out couch bed during a hospital admission is a little more tolerable.

I always have a zip lock bag full of personal care products in the closet. It’s easy to grab and ready to go at any time, so I don’t have to waste time gathering my necessities when we need to run to the emergency room. I have also learned that in a pinch, hand sanitizer will eliminate body odor on those days when it’s impossible to take a shower.

When Ben was in treatment for leukemia he was a frequent flyer to the emergency room, and more often than not was admitted. We always kept an overnight bag packed and ready to go for those 3+ years, and would just grab it on our way out the door. When we arrived home, we restocked the bag so it would be ready for the next trip.

Thankfully, we have retired the pre-packed bag, but I have a list of things to throw together if time permits:

10 Things to Bring on a Hospital Admission with Your Special Needs Child

  1. Extra clothes. Whether it’s from your child’s vomit or stress sweat, you don’t want to be stuck in nasty clothing, so make sure you have some on standby. I also like to have a cozy sweater or sweatshirt on hand.
  2. Healthy snacks to keep in the room. I also have some instant coffee and creamers in a zip lock bag, ready to go to make it easy to grab.
    • Don’t forget a few of your favorite treats! A little chocolate can be a big deal when you’re stressed. If your child is permitted to eat during the hospital admission, make sure to pack some of their favorites as well.
  3. Light reading. When you’re focused on your child it can be hard to dive into a great novel, but something that doesn’t require focus can help pass long hours stuck in a room.
  4. A headlamp or flashlight in case you need to get up during the night and don’t want to turn on the lights.
  5. Have a bag with wrapped gifts for your child. Even small dollar store items can be a great distraction on long days, or a reward for making it through a procedure.
  6. Medical toys. Ben can’t verbalize how he feels, but he can process his experience through play, and he loves to turn the tables and give his doctor an examination.
  7. Electronics and admission
  8. A new water bottle. When we have to bribe Ben to drink, having a new cute little bottle to entice him helps.
  9. Don’t forget a comfort item or two for your child. Ben doesn’t really have favorites, but just seeing his own pillow and blanket in the bland hospital environment is comforting to him.
  10. We have a cheap, twin size memory foam mattress topper to add a bit of softness to the miserable pull out couch.

Bonus Tip!

One of the best ideas we ever had was before a major surgery with over a week-long hospital admission. We created a Facebook event, and asked friends and family to make dance videos for Ben to watch. We got dozens of videos which Ben loved, and they helped make the hours seem a bit shorter. Our loved ones also appreciated having a tangible way to help us get through a difficult time. It was truly a win-win situation!


We never enjoy a hospital admission, but with a little preparation something miserable has become much more tolerable.

hospital admission

Alethea Mshar is a Special Needs Mom and Blogger.

Read her blog, Ben’s Writing, Running Mom.

Follow her on Facebook.

More articles about children with complex medical needs:


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