Last week, I woke up with my almost 2-month-old son for what I thought was a regular bottle-feeding. Everything seemed normal until I picked him up. He was hot to the touch, and after checking he had a 102 temperature. Before I new it we were in the emergency room, then admitted to the hospital for 36 hours of excruciating tests and very little sleep. He's, thankfully, fine now, but I learned there are more than a few things a mom needs you to do when her kid's in the hospital.
I think most people assume they're intruding when they offer to help a parent whose kid is in the hospital, but, at least in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. More often than not you're stuck waiting around for a doctor or a specialist or a test result, and that time doesn't fly. Instead, it drags on as you worry about your sleeping baby, hooked up to IVs and whatnot. So I was extremely grateful for friends who checked in frequently, and for friends who brought food. Even small things — like figuring out what to eat or where to find food in the hospital or trying to find time to change clothes — was just too much for my brain to handle when I was in crisis mode. I know that if my husband and friends hadn't made some executive decisions for me, I would have survived on the continental breakfast offered in the lobby of our floor and slept in the same clothes for the duration of our hospital stay.
Of course, if stopping by or dropping something off isn't an option, there are lots of ways to help from afar when your mom friend has a kid who's sick. Keep in mind this is probably best for a kid who's in the hospital for a short period of time, or isn't in extremely critical condition. And, of course, remember that every family and every child is different, so families will need different things depending on a variety of factors. But, in the end, I believe the following list is a great place to start when you're trying to support a mom who's focused entirely on her sick child: