Chapter 1: Should children visit the ICU?

Preparing instead of protecting

Additional Videos
Whose job is it to prepare children for the ICU(3:22)Video transcript
Preparing family members for what they are going to see and hear(3:22)Video transcript

 “When children know what to expect in a hospital setting, they cope better and they're able to have a sense of control and autonomy”. – Child Life Specialist

Help parents prepare their children for what they might see, hear, smell, or feel at the hospital. While ICU equipment, tubes and masks are part of your work life, it is new and often scary to children. 

It can help to suggest parents take a photo of the patient connected to medical equipment and show this to the child prior to their visit. They will know what to expect and are less likely to be surprised or overwhelmed. Invite children to ask questions about anything they see in the photo, and describe the equipment such as an IV, oxygen mask, ventilator, and any other tubing or medical devices, and explain what each device does.


Take the time to prepare children for what they will see and hear

Be aware that beeping monitors or IVs, ventilators, call bells, and any other sounds can be frightening when they are unfamiliar. Unusual smells related to the person’s bodily functions or cleaning products can also be jarring and distracting. Talking about these unfamiliar stimuli helps to reduce children’s fears.