A Nurse’s Guide to Surviving a Doctor’s Visit With Small Children

Whether you are going to a doctor’s appointment for your child’s booked immunisation or you have been stuck in the ER for the past four hours with your sick, crying baby, we all know that waiting to see the doctor with kids can be a traumatising experience for both you and your child. Here are some suggestions on how to survive visiting the doctor with your small children in tow.

Bring Snacks

When you’re trying to figure out how long you will be gone, take whatever amount of time you think your appointment will be and DOUBLE it.

Which means that a morning emergency visit can easily run into lunch, and we all know that your kid will turn into a mini Hulk and lose it if he doesn’t get doesn’t get his applesauce and fishy crackers. While you’re at it, bring some water and snacks for yourself and get ready to hunker down for the long haul.

Don’t Forget Toys Too!

You know that most loved, quiet and time-consuming toy that your child has?

Yeah, make sure you bring that.

Some great ideas would include:

Infant: Teething toys, grasping rattles and balls, a soother (if using), crinkle books.

Toddler: Board books, small wooden puzzle, a photo album with family photos, a doodle pro, puppets, shape sorter, learning activity like this animal travel bag set.

Preschooler: Water Wow!, a zippered bag full of small figurines (think McDonald’s toys…Trust me on this one!), reusable sticker pad, dolls, small stuffed animals, colouring book.

Of course, if your child is really, really sick all they will want is their mama, but even those who at home appear to be on their death-bed can get their 20th wind when they enter those sliding emergency room doors… And you will wish that you brought a toy or two.

And snacks. Don’t forget snacks!

Write It All Down

When you step into your child’s doctor’s office or emergency department, get ready to be inundated with questions, reminiscent of a brutal interrogation scene. It may look something like this:

What is your child’s main symptom? Does he have a fever? What is it? Where did you take it? Did you treat it? How much has your child drank in the past 24 hours? How many wet and dirty diapers? Does he have an allergies? Any nausea or vomiting? When did this all start? Wait, what is your presenting problem again?

Writing all of your child’s symptoms, when it all started, his previous related health history, his intake and output in the past day, and any questions that you have will help ease anxieties and ensure that every doctor and nurse who asks you what his fever was and when you last checked it gets the same answer.

I know. Getting asked the same questions over and over is exhausting. And you don’t want to forget something important.

Write it down! Or if you don’t have time, try to pinpoint the specifics on your way to the office/hospital. It was save a lot of “uurrm’s” and “uhhhh’s”.

Keep All The Paperwork You Need In One Place

If you have a zippered pocket in your diaper bag, you may want to keep your little one’s immunisation card, health card, and any allergy information in there so it is always at hand when you need it. One less thing to worry about.

Just make sure to remember to bring your diaper bag! With lots of diapers and wipes and a change of clothes!

Bring A Restraining Device… I Mean Carrier

What you choose to carry your child will completely depend on his age and your preference but one thing is certain – it will be nice to have options when your toddler keeps running back to that fish tank in the lobby or your infant is over-tired and wants to be soothed.

Infant: Portable car seat with or without a snap on stroller, carrier and/or sling

Toddler: Umbrella stroller, carrier and/or sling

Preschooler: Umbrella stroller or hold hands walking

If All Else Fails, Use Technology

Technology is to be viewed sparingly with young kids, but if you are EVER going to let your child watch a show or play a game on a tablet, the time is NOW! If all else fails, playing on a tablet or smart phone is sure to keep your busy toddler or preschooler entertained enough to sit still until the doctor comes and it will at least give your exhausted self a break.

Because trust me, after just a half hour of waiting, you will deserve it.

Get Them To Fax Your Prescription To Your Pharmacy

This is by far the best idea ever! So if your doctor doesn’t do this already, you’re welcome.

Next time your doc gives you a prescription for your child (or you!), ask them to fax it to your pharmacy right away. That way, you don’t have to spend another 30 painstaking minutes in the pharmacy while your toddler tries to test out all the motorised scooter floor models, gets his filthy hands on a box of condoms (and won’t let it go much to your dismay), and demolishes the nail polish display.

I hope that these tips help you have a positive experience while visiting your doctor with small children in tow. Even with these tips, a trip to the ER with kids is both mentally and physically exhausting, so be prepared.

Once you have returned home, have a drink of wine for me and put your feet up! Good job, mama! You and your kids have survived another day!

A Nurse's Guide (6)




Opt In Image
Enter your email below to receive a FREE copy of the Newborn Feeding Chart - to help keep things straight after baby is born!


Hi! I am a Registered Nurse on a unit that encompasses labour and delivery, postpartum, medical, surgical and palliative care in a rural hospital in Ontario, Canada. I am a mom of two and am passionate about women's rights, mom and infant care, parenting and nursing. I hope to create an educational, entertaining and highly relatable resource for women around the world. Thanks for stopping by! Xo, The Mama Nurse

9 thoughts on “A Nurse’s Guide to Surviving a Doctor’s Visit With Small Children

  • July 4, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    These are great tips! We just had to take H to urgent care while on vacation and thankfully the wait wasn’t too long but snacks and toys and ways to keep them from running amok are great tools to have.

  • July 10, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    So this is a great list, but my son does not get distracted by anything! No food, no toys, no games, not anything will stop him from running around the office (he is 2). I also have a 10 month old. So when we go to the doctor’s office we have to bring daddy along with us because mommy just can’t do it! I felt like everybody was judging my parenting skills when I was doing it alone!

    • July 13, 2016 at 7:26 am

      Thanks for sharing Nicole, and I send my condolences. I know firsthand how difficult busy toddlers can be during doctor’s visits. Parenting in public is no easy feat on your own, and our society definitely doesn’t cut us mother’s much slack! I hope it starts getting easier for you soon 🙂
      BTW I did a review on a children’s app (Kidloland), and both my preschooler and toddler loved it so much it was the only thing that would keep them occupied for an extended period of time. That and showing my toddler pictures and videos of our family on my phone.
      Best of luck!

  • July 20, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    Yes! Immunisation card! I think that one is hard to remember, but quite a time-saver if you have it on hand when your child gets a vaccine – that way you are always up to date!
    My new move this week is arm-wrestling with the 5-8 year olds – they LOVE it, and it takes the stress out of putting on a blood pressure cuff on some scared kiddo. Obviously you have to ham it up and very theatrically lose the match (fall to the floor, complain of extreme arm soreness after).
    Then there’s stickers! The age-old reward for simply surviving the medical visit. Stickers rule!
    Thanks for the tip re: faxing scripts. Duly noted!

    • July 22, 2016 at 7:59 pm

      Marissa, I so, so wish we could have you for a Doctor! Your patients are very lucky <3

  • Pingback: A Nurse's Guide to Knowing When to Take Your Baby to the ER

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge