Pack for a same-day hospital stay with a toddler

Over the last few weeks, I documented Kid3’s surgery journey on my blog.

I hope that someone, who might have to go through the same surgery with the same/similar diagnosis, could find information and to some sense comfort, through the posts and feel more content with their own journey.

This post is about what I packed for our same-day hospital stay. Everything that we needed to make the few hours at the hospital as homey and comfortable as possible.

I started compiling the packing list a week prior to surgery day. It gave me enough time to make any needed changes, and add on any items we needed as I received more information from the hospital and the specialist’s office.

We had to be at admissions very early in the morning – I’m talking 06:00, so I made sure to have everything packed and ready to go the evening before. Thankfully it didn’t take long because I already had a list to work from and it was easy to make sure that everything we needed was in my bag.

While I love making lists (packing ones too), this one wasn’t one of my favourites to make, because no surgery is fun, no matter how small it may be, and especially if it’s for your child.

I do find myself envying people who can pack for anything without needing to create a packing list. That’s a special kinda skill to own.

Yes, I enjoy making the lists, but I would be completely helpless without them. I’m a (very) forgetful person and the last time I went on feel instead of plan, was ten years ago. HB and I went on holiday for a week, and I only packed in ONE pair of shorts for him. Never made that mistake again.

Tips to pack for a same-day hospital stay with a toddler.


Here’s what I packed for our same-day hospital stay (with a toddler).

Admission Forms

We had to bring all the necessary forms for admission and surgery on the day of the surgery as the hospital’s system was hacked earlier this year, they still weren’t online so any paperwork emailed or faxed wouldn’t reach them.

It wouldn’t have been such a big issue if I had forgotten them at home, but I didn’t want to sit and fill everything in again while sitting at admissions with a restless child.


Make sure to pack in identification documentation for your child, as well as for yourself. If you’re not the main member on the medical aid, make sure you have a copy of their identification document as well.

Make sure to phone admissions and find out if there are any additional documents you need so you have everything prepared.

Extra clothes

Toddlers get messy. Yes, even at hospitals.

Kid3 didn’t need to wear a gown in theatre as her surgery was on her hand, so she was allowed to wear the same clothes we arrived at the hospital in. I did pack in an extra set of clothing in case she messed on herself when she was finally allowed to eat, and for any other unforeseen slip-ups.

Our stay at the hospital consisted of about six hours in total, but had we needed to stay for a whole day, I would’ve packed in another set of clothes – just for that in case again.

It’s important to remember that some people do have reactions to anaesthesia, and feeling nauseous and throwing up is a possibility, so best have extra clothes at hand.

Nappies, wet wipes, cream, nappy bags, etc.

Any items that you use on a regular daily basis – pack in. While hospitals do have pharmacies selling those “emergency items”, I’ve found them to be more expensive than the usual places I buy the items from.

Kid3 wasn’t potty trained yet so I had to pack in pull ups. Thankfully because of this fact, she didn’t need a catheter (which was another worry of mine). I made sure to have enough, and a little extra because I’ve learned from past experiences to never unpack nappies/pull ups.


I made sure to bring with a plush toy for Kid3 to help with any anxiety and restlessness she might have felt. She loves her pink flamingo and literally clung to it all throughout the morning until she felt comfortable in the ward.

She spent time cuddling with it when she was out of surgery and fell asleep again, clinging to it like there was no tomorrow.

Just keep in mind to not bring something that could disturb other patients in the ward, so avoid anything that makes a noise.

Something to do

It’s not to say that your child will be sleeping all the time after surgery while you’re in hospital so take some activities with to keep busy. I packed in a small notebook and a few pencils so Kid3 could scribble if she wanted to, as well as some stickers that she could stick on paper. She didn’t use anything though, but it was good to have it on hand for the need to keep her busy.

If you have an older child, activity books would great too.


I prefer to have cash each time I’ve stayed at a hospital. It makes it easier and faster to pay for items that you want to purchase at the pharmacy, restaurant and mini-shop.

I quickly slipped down to the mini-shop to grab a cappuccino while Kid3 was still in surgery, and the specialist told me beforehand to not wander off too far for too long as she wouldn’t be in surgery for long. It so happened that the staff of the mini-shop didn’t have the cup-size of the cappuccino I ordered at the front of house and had to fetch some from storage. All this took time, and I was worried I wouldn’t make it back in time for Kid3 to be taken back to the ward, and how would she freak out if I wasn’t there waiting for her.

I had cash on me, which made payment and pick up faster than paying with a card, with time to spare.

Things to keep you busy

I packed in some items to keep myself busy with during (didn’t know then it would be so quick) and after (Kid3 still needed to stay for observation) surgery. I packed in a notebook and a pen to write down any details I could forget about the experiences of the day, as well as I reading book to keep busy while Kid3 slept.

I didn’t get to either, just a couple of thoughts in-between the wakings and the calls I received, yet it was good to have these items with me in case I needed to keep busy.

I hope these packing tips will help you should you need to go to hospital with a toddler, and help you prepare and organise better for the day.

Tips to pack for a same–day hospital stay with a toddler.

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