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Child Life

Child life specialists are trained professionals with expertise in helping children and their families overcome life's most challenging events, including hospital stays and medical procedures.

Armed with a strong background in child development and family systems, child life specialists promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities. We provide emotional support for families, and encourage optimum development of children facing challenging experiences. Because we understand that a child's wellbeing depends on the support of the family, child life specialists provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings, and other family members as well. Here are a few ways Child Life Specialists at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital can help while your child is with us: 

  • Developmentally Appropriate Activities in Groups or at Bedside
    Our children's activities are based on age, ability, interest, and needs. Group activities are held in the infant, toddler and preschool playroom, the school-age playroom, Lion's Den or the art studio. If your child is unable to leave the room, activities can be brought to the bedside. Group activities help children socialize with peers, serve to normalize the hospital experience and provide opportunities for self expression. Bedside activities are designed to meet individual needs.
  • Medical Play
    Children of all ages are encouraged to play with "pretend" or actual medical equipment as a way of learning about the hospital environment and its procedures. Medical play allows children to act out their feelings and concerns, while also alerting the Child Life Specialist to any misconceptions a child may have.
  • Preparation
    Research has shown that preparing children properly before a procedure helps them cope both during and after their hospitalization. Using developmentally appropriate language, children learn about upcoming procedures, focusing on the sensations they are likely to experience such as sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. Special teaching dolls and photo preparation books are commonly used.
  • Procedural Support
    Child Life staff members help children to develop their own coping strategies for reducing anxiety and stress during procedures through the use of imagery, distraction, relaxation and music. Child Life staff will also assist you in supporting your child during procedures.