University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
Southampton Children's Hospital

What to tell your child

Children need to understand what is going to happen when they come to hospital. Be clear and honest, using simple words your child will understand. When answering their questions, be as honest as you can.

Some tips you may find helpful when explaining to your child about coming into hospital:

  • Choose a time when it is quiet and you won’t be interrupted
  • Use storybooks, leaflets or pictures to help you explain. Helpful books which you should be able to find in your local library include ‘When I went to hospital’ by Juliet Bawden and ‘Going into hospital’ by Anne Civardi
  • Play doctors and nurses at home with them – you can buy hospital play sets to help with this
  • Arrange to visit the ward or department once you know which one your child is going to
  • If your child is going to have an operation, explain that they will have a special sleep (anaesthetic) and might feel a little sore afterwards, but the nurses will give them some medicine to help them feel better. Reassure your child that you will be able to stay with them
  • Involve your child in planning to come into hospital by deciding what special toy to bring with them, choosing which pyjamas to take or buying something new, for example a toothbrush.

If you have any questions about preparing your child, please email the play team on or ring the ward or unit your child will be visiting. The contact number should be written on your child’s admission letter.

Action for Sick Children produce free leaflets to prepare your child for hospital. Please phone their national office on 020 7843 6444 or visit for more information.

We run a Saturday morning club that we would encourage you and your child to attend. For further information contact the hospital play team either by emailing or telephone 07717 440557, or to book a place please contact 023 8120 4511.