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Preparing Your Child for Visiting a Sibling in the Hospital

University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital is committed to providing family-focused care. Having your child visit their sibling being treated at UH Rainbow is a great way to involve your other children in the healing process.

Your child likely has many emotions and they may be anxious about visiting their sibling in the hospital. Here are some ways you can help prepare your child:

Child Life Services

The child life specialists at UH Rainbow are specially trained to help prepare children for procedures, surgeries and other healthcare experiences. Learn about how our child life team can help your family.

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  • Your child may be experiencing feelings such as fear, anger, helplessness or jealousy. You should acknowledge these emotions and make sure your child knows that their feelings are OK.
  • Give your child a choice of whether they want to visit their sibling in the hospital. They may not be comfortable with it, and that’s OK.
  • Talk to your child about their sibling’s illness, using age-appropriate terms. Explain why their sibling is in the hospital and how the doctors and nurses are helping to make them feel better. UH Rainbow staff can help you explain this to your child.
  • Prepare your child for what they will see when they visit the hospital. This includes talking about what their sibling’s hospital room will look and the different equipment or machines that are used (such as IVs and tubes).
  • Answer your child’s questions to the best of your ability. Hospital staff will also be able to assist with this.
  • Make sure your child understands that their sibling is feeling sick and won’t be able to play with them as usual. If their sibling is feeling up to it, they can do quiet activities together – such as coloring, board games, reading or watching movies.
  • If your child isn’t ready to visit (or if their sibling is not feeling up to visitors), your child can stay connected with their sibling by making them a card or writing a letter, drawing them a picture, or video chatting.
  • Explain to your child all the safety rules they will need to follow – such as hand washing and masking – when visiting the hospital.

Please always check with your child’s care team before bringing siblings for a visit. Rules may be different depending on what part of the hospital your child is staying in and the nature of their illness.

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