Your Child’s Inpatient Visit at Main Hospital

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.

Preparing your child for an inpatient hospital visit

These tips can help you prepare your child for their visit, so they feel more comfortable about their upcoming hospital stay.

  • Emphasize the hospital stay is temporary.
  • Reassure your child that you will visit often and will stay overnight if this is the case.
  • Pack together for the hospital stay. Let your child choose their own pajamas and a personal item to bring.
  • Point out similarities between the hospital and home such as regular meals, chances to play and having one's own bed.
  • Include your entire family in one of your "pre-hospital' talks.
  • Borrow a library book that describes a hospital stay and read it with your child. Two books we recommend are Bernstein Bears: Hospital Friends and Franklin Goes to the Hospital.
  • Ask about any tours or preparation programs the hospital may offer.

Our Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy staff is available to answer your questions about helping your child prepare for hospitalization or surgery. A child life specialist can explain what will happen, and why, in terms your child will understand. This kind of preparation can be good for you and your child, as well as for any siblings. Please call 215-590-2001 or email for more information. 

Arrival and registration

Families entering the Main Hospital in Philadelphia will be greeted by friendly and helpful staff and undergo a health screening at the Welcome Desk, located near the front entrance on Civic Center Boulevard. Adult visitors will need to have state ID for badging and know the patient’s information to help with directions to the unit. If you parked in one of our garages, bring your parking ticket to get validated at this time. After getting your visitor’s badge you will be directed to your destination. Please let the Welcome Desk staff know if you need an escort or any other resources to make your stay more comfortable.

After registration, you may be directed to wait in our bright and airy Main Atrium until your child’s room is ready, or to the Emergency Department on the ground floor. 

When you arrive on the unit, your child's nurse will welcome you to your child’s 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 is willing to help with the patient’s healthcare needs at home. This is a standard question that will be asked of all adult patients. Adult patients are not required to choose a lay caregiver and may change their 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 Main Hospital to help ease the transition for your child. There are some items you are welcome to bring, and others we ask to leave at home.

You can bring

  • Bathrobe/pajamas/slippers
  • Favorite toy, blanket or other comfort item 
  • Books
  • Magazines (for older children and teenagers), and schoolwork, if appropriate
  • Smartphone
  • Tablet
  • Portable music player or speaker
  • Device chargers
  • Laptop computer
  • Hair dryers (must have GFCI box on cord with test/reset buttons)

NOTE: Personal electronic devices should NOT be plugged into outlets at the head of the patient’s bed – these are for clinical use only.

Necessities like diapers, soap, shampoo, pajamas and slipper socks are available on every unit, if you prefer not to bring your own. Please label all personal items with the patient’s name. The hospital cannot be responsible for any lost items. 

Please do not bring

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

Limiting the number of personal items in your child’s room allows for more thorough cleaning by our housekeeping staff. 

Guidelines for a clean, safe room

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. During this cleaning process, the housekeeper will need to access all areas of the room.

Limiting the number of personal items in your child’s room allows for more thorough cleaning, which reduces the risk of infection to your child. These tips will help keep your child's room neat and tidy.


  • Only bring single servings of food and drink to the hospital.
  • Discard all food and beverages left open for more than 4 hours.
  • Use the refrigerator in the family lounge and apply labels with your child’s name and room number for refrigerated food. All packaged/dry food in your child’s room should be in sealed containers. Be prepared to bring your own sealed containers and permanent markers for labeling. Please do not hesitate to let staff know if you need help with this.

Daily cleaning

  • Please allow the housekeeping staff to enter your child’s room at their scheduled time if at all possible. Please let your child’s nurse or another member of our team know if we need to arrange a different time.
  • If your child’s stay with us is longer than 14 days, we will partner with your family to temporarily move you out of the room so our staff can thoroughly clean the room. Time out of the room for cleaning is estimated at 90 minutes. If you cannot be moved out of the room, we will partner with you to clean the room as best as possible.
  • Please help prevent trash overflow by notifying a staff member if your room trash needs to be emptied.
  • Please place dirty linens in the linen hamper as soon as possible.

Personal items

  • Limit the number of personal items you have in your child’s room.
  • Stuffed animals and personal blankets should be washed weekly. There are washers located on some units and several in the Connelly Resource Center for Families, located on the 8th floor of the Main Building. All washers and dryers are available free of charge.
  • Avoid putting things on counters and bedside stands. Place personal items in drawers and cupboards.
  • Please keep windowsill clear of all personal items.
  • Avoid putting personal items on the floor of the room. If you brought an air mattress from home, it must be deflated by 8 a.m. each day. Parents can reserve a nap room in the Connelly Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Ask your nurse about what surfaces are designated for personal items such as cards and posters from friends and family.

For families with extended hospital stays (14 days and longer):

Please bring supplies as you need them, rather than bringing supplies for the entire admission all at once. Keep no more than one week’s supply of clothing in your child’s room. Our staff can discuss what you may need to bring to the hospital and options for storing your items from home. If you are coming from out of town and this is not possible, please talk with your nurse and/or social worker, so we can best help you and your family. 

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 your child’s bedside. Cots, sleep chairs and sleep sofas may be available for your comfort. For 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.

For families traveling to our Main Hospital from a distance and need a place to stay nearby, we have compiled a list of nearby options – some with special rates for families of CHOP patients – on our Where to Stay page. This includes links to area hotels, extended stay facilities, bed and breakfasts, Ronald McDonald Houses and Hosts for Hospitals participating homes.

If your child is in a "single" patient room, you may use the bathroom shower. If your child is in a "double" room, we ask that you do not use the shower in the room. Your child's nurse can direct you to the closest shower facilities or to the shower in the Connelly Resource Center for Families on the eighth floor of the Main Hospital.

Quiet time

Scheduled Quiet Time between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. ensures patients can rest and heal. You’ll hear a lullaby play and lights are dimmed to indicate the beginning of Quiet Time. 

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 (for a nominal fee) or visit one of our two cafeterias, onsite convenience store or vending machines. To learn about available food options, see room service menus and more visit Where to Eat on CHOP’s Philadelphia Campus.

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

If a patient is assessed to have a high risk of a fall, a fall risk wristband will be placed on the patient. This will remain in place until the patient is discharged. A nurse will also work with the patient and caregiver to implement fall prevention safety strategies based on their risk.