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Call us at (587) 782-3259 or email us to connect.

What to pack for your child’s heart surgery

What to pack for your child’s heart surgery
What to pack for your child’s heart surgery

When traveling for heart surgery, many parents find comfort in packing a bag or two with the essentials and a few “nice-to-haves” for their stay. Whether you are far from home, or experiencing a longer hospital stay nearby, having everything you need can offer peace of mind. For your child, having some household items like a blanket, pillow, or favourite toy helps provide some comfort and familiarity during a time of uncertainty.

As you pack, it is important to be conscious about what you bring. Too much clutter at a bedside or in a bed can make it difficult for a medical team to access your child when they need to. Pack smart and try to limit unnecessary items so the room stays clean and organized.

Heart hero parents have helped us to compile a list of the things they recommend you bring for yourself and your child. Label everything really well as things can get busy, and people and patients can move around quickly, and it helps to keep things sorted. Make sure everything can be stored or arranged compactly so that the medical team always has direct, clutter-free access to your child in case of medical emergency.

What To Pack For Yourself

  • A toiletry bag with your daily essentials and your medications or vitamins. Fill and pack more prescription medication than you think you’ll need in case your stay is extended.
  • Comfortable clothing, cuddly blankets, and layers for the hospital’s shifting temperatures. ICUs are frequently kept cooler, and hospitals can be drafty.
  • For extended hospital stays, bring a pillow or blanket (the hospital will supply pillows if needed, but nothing beats having your own).
  • Important contacts for both your surgical site and the team who referred you at home.
  • A snack bag. The hospital will give food for your child, but parent meals are rarely provided; we’ve been informed that fast, easy, grab-and-go meals can be beneficial. Nearby, there are supermarkets and convenience stores.
  • A day pack to transport your belongings between the hospital and wherever you will be staying.
  • Notebook and pen. Things happen swiftly and change rapidly in hospital, and it can be easy to forget things when you’re in the midst of it. Taking some notes will assist you in remembering vital facts later. It’s also an excellent method to keep track of who you meet and how to contact them later on, or to share updates with another caregiver if you’re rotating at the bedside.
  • Slippers since you don’t want to spend a week in shoes and the floors aren’t as nice as your own.
  • Socks. You’ll need more than you think.
  • Lip balm and lotion are required because hospital air is extremely dry and you’ll be washing your hands a lot.
  • Staying hydrated requires a nice water bottle.
  • An eye mask and ear plugs to help you sleep. There are a lot of beeps, checks, and activity throughout the night in the hospital.
  • Your phone, laptop, or tablet, as well as other mobile devices.
  • Chargers for your gadgets, as well as a backup charger to keep in your day bag to prevent you from forgetting one.
  • An envelope or folder to keep your receipts. You’ll need them if you plan to claim the expenses to your benefits or when you file taxes.
  • If you plan to apply for provincial or federal aid while in the hospital, you will need a Notice of Assessment for the previous year’s taxes – your social worker on site will be able to assist you with this. However, bringing a copy or having an electronic copy available will speed up or simplify the process.

What To Pack For Your Child

  • A folder including their medical history and contacts, as well as a list of their medications and doses. Because concentrations vary from place to place, keep track of prescriptions by dose rather than volume.
  • Their favourite blanket, pillow, book, or toy activities or iPad for in-bed entertainment.
  • Their own toiletries, particularly hairbrush, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Diapers and shampoo will be provided by the hospital.
  • The hospital will give formula and soothers, but bring your own if your baby prefers a specific brand. Bring feeding utensils if your baby still needs spoons that aren’t disposable.
  • Post a photo of your child from when life was a little more normal over the bed to cheer yourself up and remind the staff of the adorable little face at the end of all the tubes.
  • If your child is being transported in a medically assisted flight, don’t forget to bring your own car seat and/or stroller to get you back home again after discharge.
  • In the middle of the business of a hospital ward, a sound machine can assist give soothing and continuous sound close to your newborn.
  • Books to read to your child (hearing your voice more often will help them).
  • For easy access to the surgery site, and to accommodate tubes and lines, the hospital will supply button up pyjamas or hospital gowns. However, parents tell us that clothes with zippers, snaps, and buttons are the best.
  • Clothes that can be cut up the back and placed over top of their child in bed work well, too.
  • A comfortable robe easy to wrap around for short walks to the bathroom and back, and clothes that can be cut up the front and placed over the top of their child in bed.
  • Footless sleeper or a sleeper that you are willing to cut open for access to the oximeter.


Contact the Surgical Coordinator at the hospital where your child will have their surgery. Sometimes, asking families who have been there before can help. You can find a list of support groups in your province here

Lea Legge

Surgical Coordinator - BC Children's Hospital

Phone: (604) 875-3002

Ambra Gullacher

Surgical Coordinator - Stollery Children's Hospital

Phone: (780) 407-7709

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