baby with teddy bear

The role of Child Life Specialists at Sidra

A visit to the hospital or hospitalization can be a frightening experience for anyone, especially children. To help ease the process and make it a comfortable one, Sidra Medical and Research Center has Certified Child Life Specialists, as well as art and music therapists available to help children and their families cope with potentially stressful health care experiences.


The Child Life Team at Sidra will help create a child-friendly, family-centered environment by supporting children and their families through education and stress removal activities to make their visit to the hospital and comfortable as possible. Some of the activities the Child Life Specialist team will undertake include:

  • Providing recreational, therapeutic and medical play activities
  • Supporting families and children by creating care plans which best support the unique needs of the family and child
  • Lessening stress by providing emotional support, information sharing and coping interventions, such as distraction and relaxation
  • Promoting growth and development through play and normalization of the medical setting
  • Encouraging and enabling family involvement in the care process

How Will Parents and Child Life Specialists Work Together

Parents are the experts when it comes to the care of their own children. They know the best ways to comfort their children when they are frightened and how to help them feel safe in unfamiliar places or around unfamiliar people. Healthcare workers rely on that expertise and look to partner with parents to provide the best support to children undergoing medical experiences.


Here are some things parents can do to help themselves and their children prepare for hospital visits:


Prepare Yourself

  • Gather information about why your child needs hospitalization or a certain medical intervention.
  • Ask what may happen during the hospitalization so you are prepared for and comfortable with the plan of care and expectations.
  • Write down notes and questions whenever they arise so you can ask them when you meet with your doctor or nurse.
  • If your child is going to experience potentially painful interventions during a hospitalization ask your child’s nurse, doctor or child life specialist about managing your child’s pain and how you can help your child cope with any discomfort they may feel.
  • Share information about your child with the healthcare team. Things like your child’s favorite activities, foods, toys, nicknames, etc. can help staff connect with your child and allows them to provide a more personal and positive experience.


Prepare Your Child

  • Children are naturally inquisitive and will wonder / worry about what may happen to them during a hospital visit.
  • Remember that children have active imaginations and if they do not have enough information, they make up stories to fill in the gaps.
  • Talk honestly with your child about the hospital in terms they understand and that are non -threatening.
  • Explain the reasons for why they need to be in the hospital, what may happen, and when they will be coming home.
  • Reassure your child. Make sure they know that going to the hospital is not a punishment and everyone is there to help them.
  • Help your child express their feelings by allowing them the opportunity to ask questions and talk about the experience.
  • Read books about going to the hospital with the child. There are many books about illness and hospitalization that can be found online.

Encourage your child to choose a familiar comfort item to bring along with them and consider bringing your child’s personal pillow and blanket to help them feel more comfortable during their stay.