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ED Essentials: A Parent's Guide to the Valley Children's Emergency Department

Published on Jun. 26, 2024

Emergencies involving our children can be overwhelming, but being prepared can make all the difference in ensuring a smooth experience at the emergency department. Here are some top tips and tricks to help you navigate the emergency room with ease!

1. Pack Essentials

Gather all necessary documents such as insurance cards and medical records before leaving home. Having these readily available will streamline the registration process and ensure accurate information for the medical team.

Essentials also include your phone and tablet chargers to ensure you stay connected in case of a long ED visit.

2. Comfort is Key

Bring along comfort items like a favorite toy or blanket to help reassure your child in an unfamiliar environment. Additionally, snacks and drinks can help keep both you and your child nourished during potential wait times. However, check with your nurse before letting your child eat or drink liquids other than water, as your doctor may suggest that their tummy needs rest or cannot eat for a possible procedure.

3. Don't Forget Medications

Remember to bring a list of your child’s medications, including the name of the medication and dosage. Even better, pack any prescribed medications your child may need, including inhalers or EpiPens. It can also help your medical team prepare for if your child requires any further medications, especially if they need to be hospitalized.

4. Stay Connected

Keep updated contact information for your child's primary care physician and other healthcare providers handy. This facilitates communication between the emergency room staff and your child's regular medical team.

5. Distractions Are Your Friend

Bring distractions! We suggest stuffed animals, books, coloring pages, games, videos or educational apps to keep your child entertained while waiting for evaluation and treatment. It can also sometimes be a helpful distraction if your child fears being examined. Remember to pack headphones too so you and your child can enjoy games and videos without disturbing others.

6. Be Prepared for the Unexpected

The emergency triage nurses will check your child’s vitals and do an assessment when you arrive, determining which patients need immediate medical attention. We appreciate you waiting your turn so the medical team can see the sickest patients first. If you must wait, make sure you’re prepared.

Pack a change of clothes for both you and your child in case of accidents or if you end up being hospitalized. Additionally, bring personal care items like diapers, wipes and hand sanitizer to enhance comfort and hygiene while in the waiting room, but we usually have extra if you need!

7. Have Important Contacts Handy

Create a list of emergency contacts, including family members, friends, and neighbors who can offer support or assistance if needed.


Navigating the emergency room is stressful! By following these tips and tricks, you can feel more prepared and confident in advocating for your child's health and well-being during a medical emergency. The staff are here to help, so if you have any questions during your stay here, don’t be afraid to ask. Remember, your proactive approach can make a significant difference in the overall experience for both you and your child!

Check out the Valley Children’s website for more information:

About the Authors

Hailey Nelson, MD, FAAP, IBCLC is a complex care pediatrician at Valley Children’s Charlie Mitchell Children’s Center. Dr. Nelson enjoys working with children of all ages and abilities and is especially passionate about providing the best possible care to medically fragile children and their families. As the ambassador for Safe Kids Central California, she is a vocal advocate for children’s wellness and regularly appears in news media discussing pediatric healthcare. She is also a licensed breastfeeding consultant, certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultants to support nursing mothers and their babies. Learn more about Dr. Nelson here. 


Dr. Pranita Shenoy comes to Valley Children's from Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine and is in her second year of Postgraduate Residency. Her care philosophy is working with patients and parents as a team. She is an advocate for informed care and aims to be a doctor that builds relationships with patients so they feel comfortable and trust her to provide the best possible care. Learn more about Dr. Shenoy here.