Today’s Hint: How to Make the Emergency Room Feel a Little More Comfortable

When my then 15-month-old daughter spiked a 104 degrees Fahrenheit temperature one day last November, we didn’t take any chances and drove immediately to the local pediatric emergency room.

While in the waiting room, we thought my daughter’s shivering was a sign she was cold, so we bundled her in a blanket. Before we knew it, she was convulsing, becoming one of the approximately one in every 25 children who will have at least one febrile seizure.*

The next 24 hours were some of the scariest hours of my life, as we were in and out of the emergency room as my daughter fought off the fever and the doctors ran a number of tests.

During this time, which I view now as a learning experience where we gained invaluable information on how to properly handle fevers**, my husband and I hit on a way to make hospital visits a little more comfortable for little ones, a strategy that is today’s hint.

Our approach: My daughter clearly wasn’t happy sitting and lying on the big hospital bed during the hours we waited while doctors and nurses came in and out. So my husband and I put her in her Britax car seat and put the car seat up on the hospital bed.

Hopefully you don’t find yourself in this situation, but if you do, the car seat seemed to help make my daughter feel more at home. Once she was in her familiar seat, she soon was fast asleep, at least until the doctors and nurses came in with more medicine.

To be sure, a car seat on a bed might sound dangerous to some, and we could have certainly put the car seat and my daughter on the floor instead. But the hospital bed had railings, and none of the medical personnel seemed to mind that my daughter was in a car seat on a bed.

Besides the car seat, we also did other things to make the hospital trip more comfortable for our little one. My husband ran down to the gift store and bought our daughter a new giraffe lovey (which now is her favorite one and we have three of), and we gave her unlimited pacifier (aka “baba” in her language) use.

If I could do it again (hopefully I won’t have to), I’d also bring my daughter’s toy doctor’s kit along with us, a toy that comes with us now to all of her doctor’s appointments, as well as some other toys (the hospital room had toys that my daughter played with, but they seemed covered in germs).

Looking for more ideas for how to help make your child’s next emergency room, hospital or doctor’s office visit a little more comfortable? The Greenville Health System Children’s Hospital has some fun ideas for medical-related play to try out. Finally, certain humorous books also might help, as Rita Arens shared on Cool Mom Picks a while back.

What are your tricks for making the emergency room, hospitals and doctor’s offices a little less scary for your little ones? What are some ways you’ve used car seats to help your little one cope outside the car?

* It turns out shivering during a fever is not a sign of being cold – it’s a sign a fever is spiking, so you want to make your little one as cool as possible when that happens.

**Another tip: don’t throw your little ones in a cold bath if you want to avoid a bath-hating phase; instead, wipe them down with a cold or lukewarm washcloth.

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  1. says

    So timely! I just took my 4 year old to the emergency room for the first time yesterday. She had dislocated her elbow, but it had popped back by the time we got there, so she was no longer in horrible pain. I grabbed paper and some colored pencils on the way out the door and was so glad I did. She was calm the whole time and talked to the staff about her pictures as they came in and out. She told me the Emergency room was fun as we left because she got to draw pictures. Who knew! Your tips are great!

  2. VW says

    After 3 ER visits last year, the best lesson I learned was to call ahead to see what the wait time is like in your local ER. If its busy, call the ERs in a nearby town. We drove an extra ten mins to get to an ER that was empty vs. waiting behind 10 ppl at the one nearest our home.

    Also, don’t forget the portable DVD player / iPad.


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