Helping Someone Who Is In The Hospital With A Sick Kid

Do you have a friend facing an unexpected (or planned) hospital stay with a child? Wondering what you can do to help them? Or are YOU facing a hospital stay with your child, and feeling too overwhelmed to come up with something to suggest when others ask how they can help you?

Here are some ideas of things I’ve done for others, things others have done for us, and things that just sound nice.

  • Bring Food.
    Real, Homecooked meals
    Vegetables (vegetables are so hard to get in the hospital)
    Fresh Fruits
    Flavored Drinks, or pop if the person drinks pop.
    French Fries (seriously, we’re in for about a week and I start craving french fries from McD’s)
  • Gift Cards
    Places that deliver food to the hospital
    Hospital system food
    Places not owned by hospital but within the hospital (coffee shop, book store)
    Gas Stations
    Hospital hair salon
    Other hospital services that are “extras” like that (UIHC has massage stations, for example)
  • Company.
  • Unexpected surprises. Of any sort.
  • Treats for the child.
    I’ve been surprised that most of the hospital gowns I sell are actually purchased by friends or relatives, not parents, as a fun surprise for the hospitalized child.
    Craft or activity kits
    A new movie or game
    If appropriate, bringing your kids for a visit, with maybe a board game or group-play video game
  • Mail. I love getting mail when I’m in the hospital.
  • Texts or email just to check in.
  • Books, magazines (or gift card to hospital gift shop to buy one for themself)
  • Use of a laptop, kindle, ipad, or similar if they don’t have one
  • Offering to hang out with the child so the parent can run to the store, go for a walk, go outside, go somewhere and cry, whatever.
  • Help at Home
    Pet Care
    Promises to shovel snow if needed, or mow grass if needed. (in our case, Randy can obviously do these things himself when I’m in with Teddy, but he also has to work full time and be a single parent and he also wants to come visit us on the weekends and it’s just plain NICER for him to not have to worry about these things.)
    Meals for parent/siblings at home
    Light housekeeping
    Ferrying mail between home and hospital
    Helping with other kids (taking them to lessons or classes, taking to/picking up from school, taking on fun field trips, providing before/after school care, etc.)
  • And today, in a group I’m in, someone suggested mini bottles of liquor. Which are of course forbidden in hospitals, and aren’t appropriate for everyone, but I’ve had days when an amaretto and coke would have been a nice way to finish out the evening.

3 thoughts on “Helping Someone Who Is In The Hospital With A Sick Kid

  1. I love this, Sarah. It is hard to know what to do for someone in this situation, and this is a nice comprehensive list of ideas. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I wrote up something similar some weeks into our NICU journey with my micro-prem:

    I know a lot of people were at a loss for how to help us. Our best friends handled it better because they knew us better. I wrote my own list to help give others ideas, I think the ‘real food’ and ‘day to day living help’ was the most significant, especially that people needed to offer something specific rather than expecting me to change gears and think of what I actually needed help with.

    And 3 months of NICU time with a prem is nowhere near the ordeal you’ve been through. A friend’s daughter (now 7) has CF and is constantly in and out of hospital. It’s exhausting, and alienating for the family.

    I like your list 🙂 Being in the hospital is such a crazy alien world.

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