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Planning Your Child's Hospital Stay

We want you and your child to be comfortable during his or her hospitalization. Here are some important things to remember in preparation for your child’s hospital stay:

  • You are an active member of your child’s care team. Please ask questions and tell us about your child. Each child is different, and the more we know about your child, the better we can serve him or her.

  • Children in the hospital may feel intimidated by their surroundings. You may notice different behaviors in your child. The Child Life staff can help you to best support your child through this if you have any concerns.

  • Feel free to bring comfort items for your child such as a favorite stuffed animal or pillow from home.

  • If you have questions about how to talk to your child about an upcoming hospitalization, please call the Child Life Department at 703-776-6486.

If your child is scheduled for surgery

Procedures requiring anesthesia or sedation require that your child fast before the exam or procedure. This is known as NPO (an acronym of the Latin, nothing by mouth). NPO means no fluids (including water) or food are allowed for a specified number of hours before the exam. The requirements vary depending on the procedure and the age of the child. Refer to our NPO guidelines (in both English and Spanish) for details.

See information about NPO guidelines and other helpful details about your child's surgery preparation