Positioning for Comfort

I’ve been going through resources on comfort positioning recently and rediscovered this video from Dell Children’s Medical Center.  Using comfort positions for procedures can make a huge difference in children’s level of anxiety and cooperation for new/scary medical procedures.  Being in a more upright position with a trusted parent or caregiver is a relatively quick and easy intervention with big benefits.  I love this video from Dell as it explains why comfort positioning is helpful, gives examples of positions for different procedures, and is presented by an awesome nurse from the emergency department (sometimes medical staff respond better to hearing from other providers).  Hope this resource helps those of you looking to increase the use of comfort positioning at your hospital!


10 Grab & Go Activities

grab and go activities picToday’s post is all about quick “grab and go” activities for kids. In the hospital, bags of crayons and activity pages are a child life staple. You can engage a kid for quite a while with paper and crayons, but it’s always fun to have a few more tricks up your sleeve. Here are a few ideas for simple activities that are relatively easy to put together, inexpensive, and can be stored in baggies to be given away. These make great projects for volunteers or community groups.


Fits in craft or snack size baggie:

1. Friendship bracelets= pre-cut embriodery floss (2-3 colors) + instructions (folded)

2. Bracelet= Small bag of beads + pipe cleaners

3. Lanyard key rings= Plastic lacing (2 colors pre-cut) + 1 split ring + instructions (folded)

Fits in sandwich or quart size baggie:
4. Origami= Origami paper + instructions (folded) for simple shapes

5. Cards= Brightly colored cardstock + stickers + crayons

6. Picture frame= cardstock frame + small bag of confetti sparkles + tube of glitter glue*

(For a no glue option use adhesive foam stickers)

7. Lei necklace= plastic straw beads + paper or fabric flower shapes + strand of yarn

8. Scratch art= piece or two of rainbow scratch paper + wooden craft stick

9. Paint pages= Paint with water pages (2-4) + q-tips (6-8) + medicine cup

10. Paper games= Tic tac toe or checkers game printed on cardstock + paper or foam bead pieces (12 pieces x 2 colors)

* I get glitter glue at my local dollar store in packs of 10 for $1. This is an easy size of glue and can substitute as an “individual size” for craft projects when you don’t want to hand out bottles or glue sticks.

Peer Video Support

One of the most difficult things for many patients in the hospital is feeling alone in their experiences.  Knowing there are other youth out there going through similar procedures and treatments can help.  While I try to foster lots of face-to-face socialization, sometimes patients want specific knowledge or I don’t have a good “peer match” for them at the hospital at the right time.  In these cases technology and social media offer wonderful resources. Today, I was looking for a video to share with a patient at the hospital that was apprehensive about the possibility of getting a nasogastric (NG) tube.  You Tube to the rescue! I found a great video by Natalie (gbasp10), a young teen girl, demonstrating how she inserts an ng-tube (nasogastric tube). In the video, Natalie gathers equipment, explains the process, offer tips and gives practical and accurate advice.  I was impressed with her confident delivery and demonstration.  When combined with hands-on teaching and preparation, peer-to-peer videos can be a powerful tool in helping patients cope with new medical experiences.

Thanks Natalie for sharing your video and experience with others!

Feelings Book

express yourself

express yourself

I’ve neglected the blog for a while and I’ve missed it!  I feel like 2013 is moving at warp speed.  I’m trying to stop and pay attention to the things I enjoy along the way and prescription for play is part of that process.  I enjoy having a place to share child life thoughts, tools and techniques.

When I first started my current job, I worked with a patient (I’ll call her Sarah) that needed a lot of child life support.  She was a very bright school age child with extensive rehab needs.  I spent lots of time with Sarah during treatments, procedures and therapies as she had a lot of anxiety and sometimes would have meltdowns.  We did a lot of medical play, art and open-ended doll play. Sarah had a lot of mixed emotions, particularly anger and sadness.  One of the activities that really helped her identify and eventually talk about these emotions was creating a feelings book.  I created a simple folded book for her called “My Book of Feelings”.  It was a great way to begin a conversation on different emotions and I have since used it with several patients.  Now, I’m sharing it here with you.

It is a very basic book that is geared toward patients 5-10yrs.  The patient has a space to decorate  the front cover and then on the inside page it says “Sometimes I feel…”.  Each page has an emotion: happy, sad, angry, silly, worried, etc.  I tried to alternate “positive” and “negative” emotions.  The patient can draw, write and respond to the emotion on the page in any way they like.  You can provide guidance with statements/questions like “you can draw or write what happy feels like to you”, “if happy were a color, what color would it be?”, “If happy were a song, what song would it be?”.  This book is already set up for 2-sided printing (you might have to play with the printer settings for which way it flips pages for duplex printing).  You can hole punch and tie with string or staple to bind it.  You can download the book here: My Book of Feelings

Certified Infant Massage Instructor Training

tiny toes

tiny toes

One of the things I love about being a child life specialist is the wide range of professional development opportunities that are relevant to my job.  I love to add new skills to my toolbox and I’m excited about a training I’m taking in April. I’m going to do a two-day certification course for health professionals on infant massage through the Loving Touch Foundation.  I’ll learn to teach parents and caregivers how to safely and gently massage their infants to promote bonding and relaxation.  This training is April 6-7 in Houston, TX at Texas Children’s Hospital, but there are multiple training dates and sites around the country. If you want to add another calming modality to your child life practice, feel free to find out more information at the link below:

CIMI 2 Day Training

Just for the record, I have no financial connection to Loving Touch or other organizations, products or services listed on my blog.  I only write about things that interest me.

Photo Credit:  Stephen Poff via Flickr

All About Me Posters

you don't say!

you don’t say!

It’s 2013? Really?

At the hospital we have been reviewing policies, completing end-of-year paperwork,  setting goals and lots of other administrative stuff.  I’ve felt a bit buried in paper and meetings.  While not my favorite time of year or favorite part of my job, it is necessary and will help Child Life grow at my little hospital.  In the midst of this I’ve designed a few fun things lately and thought I’d share with everyone here on the blog.  I’ve created two “all about me” posters for use with patients.  They are generic enough that they could also be used with siblings.  One poster has a star border and was created with school-age kids in mind, and the other has a comic book feel and was created for teens.  The teen one is title “Get to know…” because I felt that sounded a little more age-appropriate.  Both posters are formatted for printing on 11×17 (tabloid) size paper but can easily be used and printed on 8.5×11 paper.  As always, I am making these freely available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license.  I hope that these prove useful and I’d love to hear from you in the comments section if you use them with patients.  Happy 2013!

Photo Credit:  Mohammed Alnaser via Flickr

The Holidays are coming…

So, I’ve been a very, very busy child life specialist lately.  It’s been too long since I’ve posted on the blog and I must admit that I’ve really missed it.  We host a patient reunion for our families each year in October and it is the biggest event that I coordinate.  Between that, Halloween, an awesome conference (that I’ll blog about later), and general workiness, I’ve been sprinting through the past few weeks.  And now, with the fast approach of Thanksgiving and members of the community calling about Toy Drives, it is clear that The Holidays Are Coming!  It is a joyous, crazy, awesome, stressful, miraculous time to work in a children’s hospital as a child life specialist.  So, as a little gift to you, I’m posting about  three of my wish lists that I give to groups that want to donate to the hospital.  Today’s list is:

50 stocking stuffers
Stocking Stuffers for All Ages


  • Rattles (and wrist rattles)
  • Teethers
  • Shakers
  • Linking rings
  • Small board books
  • Soft ball or O-balls
  • Cute socks
  • Lovey size blanket
  • Small soft stuffed animal


  • Little People figures
  • Board books
  • Animal figures
  • Dinosaurs
  • Small cars/trains
  • Playdough
  • Pinwheels
  • Rubber ducks and bath toys
  • Noisemakers (whistles, maracas, giggletubes)
  • Glitter wands
  • Stickers
  • No-spill bubble tumblers

School Age:

  • Slinky
  • Mini size classic toys/games (Mr. Potato Head, Etch-A-Sketch)
  • Uno cards
  • Small puzzles
  • Silly straws
  • Kaleidoscopes
  • Magnifying glass
  • Silly putty
  • Wind up toys
  • Small toy sets (mini Lego, figurines, etc.)
  • Joke books
  • Mad Libs


  • iTunes gift cards
  • Fun colored socks
  • Puzzle books
  • Rubix cube
  • Travel size games
  • Nail polish and accessories (files, stickers, jewels, etc.)
  • Lip glosses
  • Hair accessories
  • “Difficult” coloring books (geometric designs, patterns)
  • Hacky sacks
  • Stress/squeeze balls
  • Small Nerf toys
  • Yo-yo
  • Small flashlights or book light
  • Playing cards
  • Origami paper
  • Gel pens, thin markers, colored sharpies
  • Key chains

Let me know what fun things you have on your wish lists this year!