What to Expect During Your Child's Inpatient Visit

Whether this is your child's first hospital stay or one of many, the experience can be stressful, even in the best of circumstances. Knowing what to expect at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia can help both you and your child adjust more quickly.

If your child is having surgery at Children’s Hospital, please also see our Guide to Your Child’s Surgery.

You can also find tips to help your child feel more comfortable about an upcoming hospital stay on our Preparing Your Child For an Inpatient Visit page.

Arrival and registration

When you arrive on the unit, your child's nurse will welcome you to your room, give you a tour, and answer your questions. To speed registration when you arrive, please bring the following information with you:

  • Insurance and Medical Assistance information (including subscriber and access cards)
  • The name and phone number of your family physician and others involved in your child's care

During the admissions process, we’ll gather a lot of information from you, and there will be a variety of standard questions we’ll ask.

If your child is 18 or older, there is a law in Pennsylvania that requires hospital staff to ask adult patients whether they would like to choose a “lay caregiver.” A lay caregiver is an adult friend or family member who would be willing to help you with your healthcare needs at home. This is a standard question that will be asked of any adult patient. You are not required to choose a lay caregiver, and you can change your mind at any time.

Items to bring for your child's stay

You might want to bring some of the comforts of home to the Hospital to help ease the transition for your child. There are some items you are welcome to bring, but others that we ask you to leave at home.

You can bring

  • Bathrobe/pajamas/slippers
  • Favorite toy, blanket or other comfort item 
  • Books, DVDs
  • Magazines (for older children and teenagers), and schoolwork, if appropriate
  • CD player/radio (battery mode only)
  • Portable music player
  • Cell phone charger (not to be plugged into outlets at the head of the patient's bed)
  • Laptop computers (not to be plugged into outlets at the head of the patient's bed)
  • Portable DVD player (not to be plugged into outlets at the head of the patient's bed)
  • Hair dryers (must have GFCI box on cord with test/reset buttons)

Necessities like diapers, soap, shampoo, pajamas and slipper socks are available on every unit, if you prefer not to bring your own. You should also label all personal items. The hospital cannot be responsible for any lost articles.

Please do not bring

  • Medications (unless your child's physician specifically requests that you do)
  • Electrical items such as irons, curling irons and humidifiers

In order to keep your child’s room as safe and germ-free as possible, our housekeepers must thoroughly clean your child’s room every day. Limiting the amount of personal items in your child’s room allows for more thorough cleaning. For more information on keeping your child's room neat and tidy, please visit our Guidelines for a Clean, Safe Room page.

Play and activities

Most units have playrooms where patients and family members can play together and participate in activities that are familiar and age appropriate. Playrooms are staffed by our Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy.

If your child is unable to visit the playroom, a child life specialist will make a bedside visit. Child life staff can also help you borrow toys, crafts, books and games for your child.

There is also a family lounge on every unit, where families can relax, watch television and take a break.

Sleeping arrangements and showers

One parent or guardian is invited to stay overnight at the bedside. Cots, sleep chairs and sleep sofas may be available for your comfort. For those families who have children in one of the Intensive Care Units, where family members cannot sleep at their child's bedside, some sleep rooms are available. Your child's nurse can help you sign up for a sleep room in this situation.

If you're traveling to Children's Hospital from a distance and you or a family member needs a place to stay, you have many options available. We've provided information about many of the available options on our Where to Stay page. Each listing includes contact information and details that may be helpful in deciding where to stay.

If your child is in a "single" room, you may use the bathroom shower. If your child's room does not have a shower, your child's nurse can direct you to a shower near the unit.

If your child is in a "double" room, we ask that you do not use the shower in the room. Instead, please use the closest shower facilities, which your child's nurse can help you find. Parents may also use the shower in the Connelly Resource Center for Families on the eighth floor of the Philadelphia Campus.

If your child requires an extended in-patient stay at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, there are a variety of nearby accommodations available to your family. Visit our patient and visitor resources section for recommendations.

Food services

Our Room Service meal program allows you and your child to choose what you want to eat and when you want it. Our host or hostess will deliver a room service menu to your child's room. Parents and guests are welcome to order a food tray along with their child, or visit one of our two cafeterias. We also offer other food services, including kosher options, coffee hours, convenience stores, vending machines and more.

Safety: fall prevention

Your child’s safety is important to us. Did you know that falls can occur anytime, anywhere — even at the Hospital? We need your help to keep your child safe during your stay with us. In this video, your family will learn about fall prevention and how you can partner with your healthcare team to make sure your child stays safe while at CHOP.


Fall Risk wristbands and magnets

fall risk wristband and magnet The Fall Risk wristband and magnet Beginning June 3, 2015, CHOP will implement two new visual cues to identify patients who may be at a high risk to fall. If a patient is assessed to have a high risk, a fall risk magnet will be placed on the outside of the door and a fall risk wristband will be placed on the patient. These will remain until the patient is discharged. A nurse will also work with the patient and caregiver to implement falls prevention safety strategies based on their risk.

Fall prevention education

Learn how to prevent falls in children of all ages.

Next Steps