Preparing for Your Child's Visit: What to Expect
Prepare for a thorough evaluation
Your child's first visit will include time for a history and physical examination, selected tests and procedures (e.g., allergy skin tests or breathing tests in our office), discussion of your child's diagnosis, an outline of the treatment strategy and some educational materials. Learn more about preparing for new patient appointments.
You may bring some of your child's favorite toys and books. If you can, please stop your child's antihistamines (allergy or cold medicines) three days (72 hours) prior to your child's visit. Review our list of antihistamines to avoid using before your child comes in for allergy testing.
Remember, we may need to plan a second visit to complete your child's evaluation and our educational plan for care.
Preparing your child
Explain the reason for the visit, using words your child can understand, and answer her questions simply and honestly. Let your child know that you'll be with him throughout the entire appointment.
The following tips should help you talk to your children, regardless of their age:
- Infants: Bring a familiar object — a toy, blanket or pacifier — to help make your baby feel more secure. If your baby is due to be fed, come prepared with a bottle or food.
- Toddlers: Use simple words and phrases to discuss the visit with your child. Explain exactly what will take place right before the visit. Let your child bring a book or favorite toy. Bring juice or water if your visit is likely to last longer than one hour.
- Preschoolers: answer questions truthfully, using words your child understands. Tell your child his doctor's name. Encourage your child to ask his doctors and nurses questions about what will happen. A snack or juice may help a hungry or thirsty preschooler during the wait.
- School-age children: give honest and accurate information. Tell her about the appointment a couple of days in advance. Emphasize that an outpatient visit is not a hospital admission and does not mean an overnight stay. Have your child bring a special toy or game.
- Teenagers: inform your teenager about the appointment when you make it. Encourage him to ask questions and express his feelings. Answer his questions honestly. Also, assure him that it is okay to ask questions of his doctors and nurses.
If you would like advice on preparing your child, a list of helpful books or to meet with someone who can help you discuss the visit with your child, please call the Hospital's Child Life and Education Department at 215-590-2001.
You also can find more information about preparing your child in The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Outpatient Handbook
Reviewed by: Paulette Taylor, RN, CPN, AE-C
Date: October 2008