5 Affordable Ways to Keep Pediatric Patients Entertained During Inpatient Stays

As children have shorter attention spans, it can seem as if time moves at a different pace for them. If you care for pediatric patients in your clinic or hospital, you’ve probably noticed how time stretches on for your patients. It’s often difficult to keep them motivated or entertained, especially on a budget. At SmileMakers, we know that you’re working with limited resources. This doesn't have to be an issue, though. Here are a few affordable events and activities you can host to entertain your pediatric patients without breaking the bank.

Design a simple treasure hunt
5 Affordable Ways to Keep Pediatric Patients Entertained During Inpatient Stays A scavenger hunt can work for a variety of patients regardless of their condition. There’s always excitement in solving a puzzle or tracking down clues. If your patients are spending any length of time in an inpatient setting, this gives them an exciting reason to get out of their beds that doesn’t have to with a treatment or procedure. Best of all, scavenger hunts use the resources you have available, so they are inexpensive and easy to set up.

Treasure hunts are very inclusive, which is one of the reasons they work so well. Each child has an opportunity to help solve the puzzle, especially if you plan clues with the age level of your patients in mind. And you can customize the hunt for the mobility level of each patient. Patients who are confined to their beds can still take part by answering clues presented through puzzle cards or maps. The prize at the end doesn’t have to be extravagant either, the search is where the real fun is! If you are looking for gifts to provide at the end, check through our SmileMakers prizes. We have a variety of pediatric toys for all ages, and our signature toy treasure chests if you really want to embrace the theme.

Host a Day for Dogs
5 Affordable Ways to Keep Pediatric Patients Entertained During Inpatient Stays Depending on your city, there will likely be an organization that trains therapy dogs. Therapy dogs, or any therapy animals, are a guaranteed hit with children. Their therapeutic role is also important. Studies have shown that therapy dogs relieve stress for pediatric patients and their families alike. Animal-Assisted Therapy (or AAT) is increasing in popularity and helps calm emotions. Many pediatric patients in the study reported that they felt safer and less afraid of their treatment after spending time with a pet. For patients that may have injuries or disabilities, animals are judgement-free, and can help distract them from the length of their inpatient stay. As therapy dog associations are typically non-profit or volunteer-based, it may even be cost-free. These visits provide your patients a chance to interact with pets, which otherwise might be difficult during their long stay at your hospital.

Run a designated story time
As many children today have tablets and phones, reading out loud to them may seem like a waste of time. But while many children now have some form of personal entertainment, they are often captivated by an interesting book. It’s something that they miss by not being in school, so it is important to help them feel like they’re not missing too much. It’s especially important if you have patients that cannot read themselves. Having a story read to them can be relaxing and therapeutic. Research has shown that these story times are important for growing their vocabulary and reading ability, too. Hosting a daily optional story time in a designated place will give patients something to look forward to each day. It’s an evergreen event, and a more affordable solution than a movie night. Make sure to leave time for questions in case the children are curious afterward. After listening to a good story, many of the children may want answers about what happened after the 'happily ever after'.

Create themed events
It is a well-known fact that having something to look forward to makes time go faster. This holds true for kids, especially if they don't have much else going on. Fun events give your patients a reason to get excited for their upcoming week and distracts them from their treatment. There are many good DIY events and activities that aren't expensive or time-consuming, but for the bigger holidays, some help may be necessary. SmileMakers has festive toys and decorations for every season and holiday, and can help make every event memorable. We also provide other themed decor if you’re looking for ideas. Between our ‘Sea Life Pals’ and ‘Jungle Friends’ themes, you’ll have everything you need to host a unique themed event for your patients. It's moments like these that they'll remember as positive experiences long after their treatment is complete.

Find the right Pediatric Toys
With how much time your pediatric patients spend under your care, finding toys that will keep them entertained is crucial. This presents a unique challenge, though, as trying to find a good array of toys can be expensive. At SmileMakers, we know this is a challenge for hospitals, clinics, and private practices, which is why we have our super-sized value chests and offer incredible bulk discounts for our buy more, save more toys. Our capsule vending machines are a big hit with pediatric patients, too. They can be stocked with all sorts of toys and are a fun reward for well-behaved patients. These gifts will mean so much more to younger patients if they get to choose the toy themselves or win it as a prize. If you’re looking for dual-duty prizes that can be used as both rewards and as part of treatment, SmileMakers therapy toys include an array of stress toys for muscle movements and blowing toys to increase lung capacity.

Looking for more ways to entertain your patients? That’s our specialty at SmileMakers!
At SmileMakers, we know that no two children are alike, which is why we provide a diverse array of toys and prizes to help you find the right gifts for your patients. If you’re still struggling to find a unique gift, check out our staff picks for their favorite toys we offer. There’s something for everyone at SmileMakers, and we want to make sure you find everything you need!