How to Help a Family with a Child in the Hospital

Alethea Mshar
Special needs mom and Blogger
12/12/16  9:12 AM PST

If you know a family with a child who is sick, hospitalized or diagnosed with a serious illness, you want to help. Chances are, you haven’t been there yourself, and you’re not sure how best to help them. No matter how well you know them, there’s always something you can do to lend a hand and provide support when someone has a child in the hospital.


How to Help a Family with a Child in the Hospital

If you have a little time to give:

  • Homemade meals are always helpful. If a parent is staying at the hospital with their child, single serve containers of home cooked food are a lifesaver.

child in the hospital

  • Offer the parents a break. Whether it’s visiting with the child in the hospital so the parents can eat or shower, or taking a turn on the home front watching other kids, if you have a few hours to spare you can give a stressed family a reboot by helping care for the children.
  • Take the laundry off their hands. Ask them to leave it on the stoop and return it clean and folded.
  • Mow the lawn or shovel the drive. Maintaining a home doesn’t stop for life’s crises, so helping make sure the family doesn’t get behind is a real blessing.
  • Skype or facetime with them in the hospital. Near or far, a few minutes of face to face conversation can brighten a day, and you don’t even have to get out of your jammies.

child in the hospital

  • Bring a cup of coffee (hospitals have coffee, but it’s often lousy).
  • Send a letter. Everyone likes to get mail – throw in a few stickers or a bookmark to make it extra fun.


If you can spare a little cash:

  • Gas cards are a big deal. When families are running to appointments and back and forth from home to the hospital, the cost can really add up. Even just $10 goes a long way.
  • A distraction basket for the child in the hospital. A few minutes in a dollar store or the sale aisle and a little wrapping paper can brighten a whole afternoon for a bored, sick child.
  • A snack basket for the hospital room. Make sure to include favorites of both the parents and the child, with some good, wholesome snacks and a few indulgent goodies.  Either homemade or store-bought is fine.
  • Coffee gift cards. Hospital coffee is for the birds, but most hospitals have a Starbucks kiosk. Offsetting the cost of an indulgent drink is a real treat for the parents.

child in the hospital

  • Hospital meal vouchers. Many hospitals sell vouchers for the cafeteria, and if not, there’s probably a food court where you could buy gift cards.
  • Light reading material or distractions. It can be hard to focus when you need to tend to your sick child, but the hours can stretch out endlessly. A magazine or two or a fun, easy-read book can help pass the time.


Last but not least, don’t forget siblings!  Siblings feel the strain of the hospitalization and illness too, and often can be overlooked when people want to step in to help the family. Taking siblings out to a park or a movie, or rewarding them with a little prize or treat can be a really big deal.

child in the hospital

Most importantly, do something.  It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, take all day or a lot of money to make a big difference, just do something for the child in the hospital, I guarantee that both you and the family you care about will be blessed.


More stories about caring for a sick child in the hospital:

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

How to Get a Second Opinion for Your Child with Special Needs

Planning a Doctor Visit for Your Child with Special Needs


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