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Coming to the hospital can be a scary experience for children of all ages. Research has illustrated that adequate and developmentally appropriate preparation can improve experiences for children and families. Child life specialists are available to provide one-to-one consultation in preparing your child for a hospital visit.

Here are some basic tips for talking with your child about their upcoming hospital visit.

  • Be honest: Providing developmentally appropriate explanations can create predictability and trust.
  • Provide sensory information: Describe what your child will hear, see, and feel during their visit.
  • Use familiar and non-threatening language (e.g. the doctor needs to check your temperature to take care of your body).

What to bring to your visit

To help your child's appointment run smoothly, please remember to bring:

  • the name of your child's pediatrician and the name of the specialist who referred you (if different than your pediatrician), as well as their phone numbers
  • the names of the department and building for your child's appointment
  • insurance card(s)
  • co-payment for your insurance, if applicable
  • referrals or authorizations from your child's primary care doctor's office, if applicable
  • medical or personal records, such as x-rays or lab tests. If you are unsure what to bring, call the department you are scheduled to visit.
  • a list of the medications your child is taking
  • a list of questions you or your child may have
  • your child's and your Social Security Numbers
  • any forms or information mailed to you by the department
  • books, games, snacks, formula, diapers, change of baby clothes, or other necessities. If your child must fast for tests to be performed during the visit, please don’t bring food.

Your insurance and demographic information is verified at every visit. If your insurance information, address, or phone number changes, please let us know.

Checking in after arriving at the hospital

When you arrive at Boston Children’s, please check in for your appointment at one of our kiosks. You’ll find them at:

Kiosks are available in both English and Spanish. They not only help expedite check-in, but you can also use them to:

  • update emergency contact information
  • upload a photo of your child to their medical record (while completely optional, patient photos have been shown to improve patient safety and help to properly identify patients)
  • verify insurance information
  • complete questionnaires
  • pay copays and balances with a credit card

Preparing for surgery

At Boston Children's Hospital, our caring, compassionate, and kid-friendly surgical team includes expert pediatric surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and assistive personnel who are all extensively trained and experienced in pediatric surgical care.

All about day surgery

Day surgery is when your child is having a minor surgical procedure (like having tonsils out) that doesn’t usually require an overnight stay at the hospital. If your child is scheduled for day surgery, he or she will most likely go home the same day.

A nurse will call you the day before surgery to obtain a health history and to answer any questions you might have.

On the day of surgery, please arrive at the hospital at least 90 minutes before the scheduled surgery time.

Your child may need to stay overnight in the Recovery Room (Post-Anesthetic Care Unit or PACU) for observation, but this is not considered an inpatient stay since he or she will be at the hospital for less than 24 hours.

All about inpatient surgery

An inpatient surgery is when your child stays in the hospital for at least one night after her surgery. If your child is having an inpatient surgery, he or she will be scheduled for a Preoperative Clinic visit before the day of surgery. During the pre-op visit, you and your child will receive a pre-anesthetic evaluation and information about what to expect before and after the surgery. On the day of surgery, you will need to arrive at the Admitting Office 90 minutes before the scheduled surgery time.

If your child is staying overnight at the hospital before surgery, an Admitting Office staff member will call you to arrange an arrival time. When you arrive at Boston Children's, you will need to register in the Admitting Office. A staff member will direct you to the floor where your child will be staying after her surgery. While in the hospital, you and your child will be told about the surgery and given an anesthesiology consultation.

Learn about inpatient surgery and our Preoperative Clinic.

Preparing for an overnight stay

We know that staying in the hospital can be stressful. Here at Boston Children's Hospital, we do everything possible to provide a comfortable environment for you and your child.

If your child is scheduled to stay in the hospital, you will receive an admission date from your child's doctor, and a packet of information will be mailed to you from our Admitting Office. Please note, if your child has a cold, flu, or stomach bug or has been exposed to a contagious disease like chicken pox, measles, or mumps just before the day of admission, please call your child's doctor or health care provider at Children's. You may need to reschedule your admission or appointment.

For more information on what to expect while at Children's, see our information about hospital amenities and activities. To find out more about what to expect from a medical aspect, see our Clinical Services page and select the program/service or department that will be caring for your child.

You also may want to speak with the Child Life specialist who works on the floor where your child will be staying. Child Life specialists can provide you with detailed information about what to expect during your child's stay at Children's.

To make your admission appointment as efficient as possible, please bring the following:

  • a completed registration form, which you will receive in the mail before your admission
  • your child's Boston Children's Hospital identification card, if he or she already has one (if not, you will get one when you get here)
  • any billing forms your insurance company might require
  • your child's insurance identification card
  • two copies of claim forms from your insurance company or employer
  • any letters of authorization from your child's physician or insurance company
  • your Medicaid card or a letter of authorization from the Medicaid agency in your state, if applicable
  • documentation of household income if you are uninsured, such as W-2 forms, three paychecks, or your most recent tax form
  • your child's Social Security Number
  • the Massachusetts Health Care Proxy Form for patients 18 or older

To help your child feel more comfortable while here at Children's, please bring his or her favorite belongings to the hospital, as well as items from home that are part of his or her daily routine. These might include:

  • toys, games, books, audio or videotapes, and photos
  • a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, and pillows
  • glasses, hearing aids, crutches, braces, corrective shoes, or other orthopedic aids
  • medications your child is currently taking and a list of those medications
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • schoolwork, if appropriate
Electronic devices

If your child has special electrical medical appliances, such as intravenous feeding pumps or monitoring devices, they must be inspected before admission by the Department of Biomedical Engineering. This department can be reached at 617-355-6166, or you can ask the nursing team for assistance.

Each inpatient room has a TV, video game console, wireless Internet, and access to a DVD player, but if you'd like to bring any non-medical electrical items (like laptops, iPads, or hair dryers) please discuss them first with the nursing staff.

Operation of cellular phones is not permitted within six feet of electrical medical equipment. 

The security of personal belongings is the family's responsibility.

Preparing for a blood test

300 Longwood Ave
Boston, MA 20115

Phone: 617-355-5618
Fax: 617-730-0278

Hours of Operation

  • Inpatient Phlebotomy: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily
  • Outpatient Phlebotomy/Fegan Plaza Blood Drawing Lab: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday
  • Outpatient Phlebotomy/Admitting: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, and Holidays

At Boston Children's Hospital, we understand that children and families may feel anxious or frightened when a child needs to have a blood test.

The following frequently asked questions may help you ease your child’s anxiety around blood tests. This information also includes suggestions for ways to provide support and encourage your child during the blood test.

Should I keep the blood draw a secret?

Many parents are uncomfortable talking to their child about having a blood test. However, being honest with your child will help to foster a sense of trust between you, your child, and his/her healthcare team.

Tell your child what to expect in advance so he/she can prepare themselves for the experience and ask questions. This will also give you time to reassure your child that the blood test is necessary. Finally, telling children in advance will give you time to work together to develop a plan for coping that will work for both of you.

When and how should I tell my child?

Choose a quiet time to talk with your child. Use a calm and relaxed tone of voice. Use honest, simple explanations that your child will understand. It is important that your child understands that having this blood test is the right thing to do.

You could say, "The doctor needs to make sure that you are healthy, so we are going to have a blood test." Or, "We need to have a blood test to see what is making you feel sick."

One way to make the conversation more comfortable is to use words that are neutral. Try saying something like, "Some children say the test feels like a mosquito bite, or a quick pinch, and some children say they don’t feel the blood test."

Avoid statements like, "You won't feel anything." This can be misleading. Follow up with your child to make sure he/she understands what you have said. Ask questions. Have your child explain back what you have talked about, or describe the plan you have developed together.

How should I tell my child that he needs a blood test?

Be honest with your child about the blood test. Being honest will help to foster a sense of trust between you, your child, and his/her healthcare team

Tell your child about the blood test in advance so he/she has time to ask questions. Reassure your child that the blood test is necessary. Begin by using a calm, relaxed tone of voice. Give your child honest, simple explanations.

You could say, "The doctor needs to make sure that you are healthy, so we are going to have a blood test.” Or, "We need to have a blood test to see what is making you feel sick."

If your child asks if the blood test will hurt, be honest. You could say, "Some children say a blood draw feels like a mosquito bite, or a quick pinch, and some children don't feel the blood test at all." Tell your child that you can stay with him/her the entire time.

How do I react to my child's emotions?

Most children have some fear of needles. It is natural to feel uneasy about having a blood draw. If your child is feeling uneasy, you can work together to develop a plan to deal with his/her emotions. This will help your child feel more in control. Below are some tips to help your child feel more confident about the blood draw:

Assure your child that the phlebotomist (the person who draws their blood) cares about their comfort.

Avoid statements like, "Don't be nervous," or "Big boys don't cry." These statements could make your child feel ashamed if he/she does feel nervous or needs to cry.

Let your child know that you and the doctor feel that this blood test is necessary and important.

Never use threats such as, "You won't get a prize if you cry," or "I will leave the room if you don’t sit still." These comments could make your child feel worse about the situation by adding an additional fear (i.e. fear that Mom or Dad will leave them alone, or fear of not earning a prize).

How can I help my child?

Developing a plan allows kids to feel more in control and less frightened. Together, you and your child can decide if they would like to:

  • sit up or lie down
  • sit on your lap or by themselves
  • hold your hand
  • watch the blood draw
  • count to three
  • take slow, deep breaths
  • sing a song
  • squeeze a stress ball
  • go in on their own
  • look at a book
How can I help my child hold still?

Talk with the phlebotomist about the best position for your child. We always have a staff member available to help support your child’s hand or arm. This means you can concentrate on comforting your child.

What other things can I do to make the blood test easier for my child?

Parents are always welcome and encouraged to stay and help their child during the blood draw. A Child Life specialist may be available to help your child during or before their blood test.

Ask your phlebotomist if a Child Life specialist is available.