9 Ways To Entertain Your Child At The Emergency Department

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A health emergency is never a pleasant surprise, especially if it involves your kids. Parents surely know the agony of seeing their child in pain and feeling helpless to alleviate whatever discomfort or aches they’re going through. You’d want the ordeal to be finished as soon as possible so that you and your little one can go back home.

Unfortunately, you might not get the quick service that you desire, especially if there are other more severe cases in the emergency room (ER). Knowing this, one of the things that you should prepare when you go to the hospital is how to entertain your child while you’re waiting to talk with the doctor.

Here are some ways that can help you:

1. Go To A Children’s Hospital

If you still have the time to choose a hospital to go to, opt for a dedicated children’s hospital in your area. These institutions have specialists in their pediatric ERs. They’re specifically trained for diagnosing kids’ health issues as well as patient handling. 

This means that they know the questions to ask that your child can understand. This way, they can accurately get to the root of the problem and provide the best treatment option for your kid. Additionally, these hospitals have child-sized equipment for the comfort of young patients.

If your kid’s condition is critical, you should rush to the nearest available hospital in your area. You can expect round-the-clock care and specialized equipment from emergency rooms, so there’s no need to worry.

Aside from toys and things that can entertain your kids, these are the essential items that you should bring along when you visit the ER:

  • Clothes – Make sure to pack a set of loose, comfortable clothes. This is just in case the doctor asks you and your kid to stay for the night. They might need to monitor your child’s condition, so it’s best to be prepared. 
  • Medication – If your child has prescribed medications, you should bring them along for the ER doctor to check. This can help them get a more accurate idea of what medicine to give your child.
  • Water Bottle – Bring a refillable water bottle so that you can keep your kid hydrated. This is particularly important if they’re scheduled to undergo surgery as they might become thirsty after the operation.
  • Toiletries – Similar to clothes, it’s best to bring essential toiletries, like soaps and shampoos. The hospital may also provide other toiletries, like tissues and cotton, so you won’t need to bring these items.
  • Personal Devices – Your phone is crucial for communication, so make sure that you bring it as well as the charger. If you feel that you’ll be staying in the hospital for a few days, you can also pack your laptop and tablet so that you and your kid can watch movies or YouTube videos. Audio players can also alleviate boredom.
  • List of Important Details – Keep a list of insurance details, important contact information, and IDs. If your child has a fever, bring the notebook that contains their temperature or medication record for the recent days.

2. Watch a Movie

As mentioned above, you can bring your laptop or tablet to watch a movie with your kid. It’s even better if you’re able to stream their favorite films. At the very least, you can watch animated videos with them.

Rotten Tomatoes created a list of the top 100 movies in the kids and family genre. These are the five titles with the highest ratings:

  • Toy Story 4 – The Toy Story franchise has captivated the hearts of both kids and parents all over the world. This sequel, which was released in 2019, tells of Woody’s life with Bonnie after Andy went off to college. There’s also a new toy named ‘Forky.’
  • The Wizard of Oz – This iconic 1939 film features Dorothy and her journey to the magical land of Oz, where she meets unique characters. Don’t be fooled by the old-timey aesthetic of the movie as the story may still click with your little one.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – The fast pace of this Spider-Man version will keep your child on their toes. It features Miles Morales as the leading Spidey who gets to meet the different Spider-people and creatures from other dimensions.
  • Inside Out – This Pixar film may help your kid sort through their emotions as they wait in the ER. The movie features a unique rendering of emotions by giving them life as little people inside one’s head.
  • Coco – Coco is a beautiful Disney film about family. It can open your child’s eyes to different cultures and how they commemorate their loved ones’ who’ve passed on to the afterlife.

3. Talk About The Situation

Once you’re waiting in the ER, your child can get antsy, especially if they got injured and are in lots of pain. One of the ways to keep their mind occupied is to talk to them about what’s going on. 

Use the situation as a learning opportunity. Discuss why you’re there and what medical professionals do. Who knows? They might become inspired by the doctors and nurses and want to be like them when they grow up.

Talking about the situation can make your kid prepare mentally and emotionally. You need to assure them that going to the hospital and meeting the doctor can help the pain go away as they’ll have the proper treatment and medication. 

4. Bring Their Favorite Toys

The keyword here is ‘favorite.’ You should bring the toys that your child can find security in. It can be a beloved stuffed toy or even a blanket that can help them get through the ordeal. 

Having these objects tag along in the ER not only helps entertain your kids but also comforts them during this particularly tough time.

5. Sing Some Songs

Another way to keep your child entertained is to belt out some nursery tunes. The best types are action songs since they can involve their entire body. 

Here are some nursery rhymes that can engage your child’s attention wherever you are, even in the ER:

  • Itsy Bitsy Spider – This popular song tells a fun story. It also has repetitive motions, which aid in learning the moves faster. 
  • Wheels on the Bus – The best part about this song is that it has a lot of verses. This can help you quickly pass the time. 
  • Open and Shut Them – This nursery rhyme can also help your kid practice finger dexterity and grasping, which is useful if their injuries are in the lower extremities. 
  • Five in the Bed – Aside from engaging their motor skills, you can also boost their cognition through this song since it helps them develop their memory and reinforces counting.
  • Baby Shark – Baby Shark is, perhaps, the most popular tune these days. Its upbeat tempo and catchy melody will definitely capture your child’s attention. 
  • Pat-A-Cake This classic nursery rhyme involves crossing mid-line, hand-eye coordination, and body awareness. It also promotes social interaction.
  • Five Green and Speckled Frogs – Similar to ‘Five in the Bed,’ this song can help develop your child’s counting skills. It can also improve wrist stability since the song begins with putting your right hand over your left forearm.
A mother is helping the sick son in the hospital.

6. Play Games

Playing games with your kid can keep them entertained for hours on end. Unfortunately, there isn’t really room to run around in the ER. Knowing this, you’ll have to be creative and bring along games that can keep your child on the bed without boring them to tears.

Here are a few examples that may help you:

  • Cards – Cards are one of the easiest toys that you can bring along. They’re lightweight and compact, which makes them the best portable game ever. Plus, they’re flexible enough to be played with different mechanics. 

You can play Go Fish, Gin Rummy, and other popular variations. You can even show them some card tricks that you’ve got hidden up your sleeves.

  • Paper – You can also keep yourselves entertained by bringing some pens and paper. Some games that you can do are dots and boxes, tic-tac-toe, and battleship.
  • Board Games – For board games, you’ll want to ensure that they’re portable and age-appropriate. Scrabble, Clue, Chutes and Ladders, and Chess can be enjoyed by anyone of any age.
  • Blocks – Blocks help develop your kid’s motor skills and imagination since both of you can create different types of objects using the materials, unleashing your child’s creativity and keeping them diverted while in the ER.
  • I Spy – If you weren’t able to pack anything because you were rushing to go to the hospital, don’t fret. You can still entertain your kid with some visual treasure hunt. I Spy is a popular game that can be played anywhere. You just have to provide clues on something that you see in the vicinity. The person who’s able to give the right answer can then choose another object.

7. Give Them Snacks

You should also bring some snacks for your little one. These can be helpful in keeping them full while waiting for the doctor’s orders. It can also lift the mood of the patient so that they don’t become surly or angry.

The primary factor to consider when choosing a snack is that it should be easy to eat. Additionally, make sure that it doesn’t lead to a mess when little hands carry them.

Here are some practical options to consider:

  • Sandwiches – Sandwiches are easy to prepare and bring along, which makes them the quintessential snack for kids. Eating two sandwiches can even become a meal for little tummies. Use fillings like cheese, ham, or peanut butter and ensure a mess-free experience by placing them in sandwich bags.
  • Crackers – Crackers can be sweet or savory, so you can bring any type according to your child’s preference. You can pair them with boxed milk or juice.
  • Vegetable Sticks – Staying in the ER might bring to heart the importance of staying healthy. Hence, bring along some veggie sticks that your little one can munch on, such as carrots, cucumbers, and celery. 
  • Fruits – Fruits like apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, and strawberries are relatively mess-free. Just keep a separate bag for the peels, especially if you’re going to use them for your compost.
  • Cereals – You can also bring cereal as a snack. Your child can eat them without the milk so that you won’t have any problems. You can even create cereal bars that just require cereal, some form of butter, and syrup to keep all the ingredients together.

8. Answer Their Homework

Doing homework while in the ER hits two birds with one stone–your child gets to keep up with their schoolwork and distract themselves. It’s also a good way to guide them while answering since you have the time to work on them.

Don’t force them to answer their homework, though. You should still give them consideration because of the exceptional situation that both of you are in. They might be a little trooper, but they might not be telling you the discomfort or pain that they’re feeling right at that moment.

9. Read a Book

If you want to cultivate the imagination of your kid, you can bring a storybook to entertain themselves. Not only does this keep boredom at bay, but it can also help them master the skill of reading and improve their comprehension. You can even download e-books if you didn’t have time to grab a book at home. 

Read with your child and be their source of comfort as you wait for the doctor’s instructions.


Children can easily get antsy while waiting in the ER. You can alleviate their boredom by talking them through the situation, giving them their favorite toys, singing some songs, and playing games. You can also bring along some snacks in case they go hungry. Watching movies, reading books, and even answering their homework together can make the minutes fly by as well. 

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