A NSW Government website

Information for parents, carers and guardians

Knowing what to say or do to prepare your child for hospital or an appointment can be tricky.

Below are two links from Caring Bridge that are full of ideas and practical advice around preparing yourself and your child for surgery or a medical procedure.

For more ideas on preparing your child using storybooks, suggestions on distraction tools and places to go to get a break from the ward, see below.

Reading storybooks to prepare your child

Reading books with your child is a great way to spend time with your child and support them to make sense of their feelings or prepare for hospital or treatment.

Click here to watch the story of Franklin as he goes to hospital for the first time.

For suggestions on children's books about medical experiences, emotional awareness, healthy coping, grief and loss, visit the Hearts Connected and Redkite websites. You can look for these books online or at your local library.

Tools to distract your child during procedures

Distraction can be a great way to help your child get through many different procedures.

As a parent/carer you may be the best person to help distract your child. Depending on your child's age, some things that you can do to help keep them occupied during minor procedures (e.g. vaccinations) or medical examinations are:

  • Bring small toys for them to play with (e.g. fidget spinners, bubble popping toys, a stress ball).
  • Play music and/or sing with your child.
  • Talk them through some focused breathing exercises.
  • Talk about their favourite things or tell them some jokes.
  • Play games like "i-spy" or "21 Questions".
  • Let them play a game or watch a video on a device (e.g. a phone or iPad).
  • For young babies it may be helpful to feed them during the examination/procedure.

There are many free apps with games that can be used as distraction tools. The TLC for Kids organisation has developed an app specifically to help children keep calm during medical appointments. The app has games such as popping bubble wrap, matching tiles and breathing excercises. To download the app or play online, click here: Tap 2 distract

Areas to take a break in John Hunter Children's Hospital

If your family is visiting John Hunter Children’s Hospital, there are a few fun areas that your children and family can use to have a break from the wards and waiting rooms. These areas include:

For a virtual tour of these areas click here.