My baby on his first day in the hospital
Hospital, Hospital stay

Advice if your baby is sick and has to stay in hospital in Japan

Our baby came down with bad bronchitis last week and there was a risk it could develop into pneumonia, so the doctor recommended for him to stay in hospital for one week in order to recover. Here is some advice based on our experience.

10 Tips for caring for your sick baby in hospital in Japan:

1. Ask questions – it is critical that you understand exactly what sickness your baby has, why your baby has to stay in hospital, how long, medicine, schedule, etc. This is especially important if you are in a country where you don’t understand the language such as Japan. If you don’t understand something, ask the doctor or nurse to write it down and search the technical terms on the internet.

2. Stay with your child at all times. You may not realise, but when your baby is in hospital, they cannot leave the baby cot if they have a drip in their arm. So if you need to go to the toilet or get some food, many babies cry and become really stressed if you leave them there. So you need to stay there 24 hours by their side. Many of the parents in the hospital wouldn’t go to the toilet until they were really busting, or wait until their baby went to sleep so they could quickly go to the toilet or buy some food. If you do have to go, explain to your child in advance and try to be quick.

3. Stay with your baby during tests. In Japan, they will ask you to wait outside if they are taking a blood test or putting the drip in. It is extremely traumatic for your child and can take a while to find the vein. Personally I insisted to be in the room with my baby, even if there was nothing I could do but to stroke his head (however the doctor became nervous with me there and asked me to stand outside!)

4. Ask your spouse or family for help. As mentioned above, your baby will want you by their side 24 hours a day, and will cry even if you need to go to the toilet. Ask your family and friends for support or to come and look after your child for a few hours, so you can at least go and have a shower or get a proper dinner.

5. Arrange time off work. If you work full-time, contact your company straight away to explain what has happened, and if possible cancel your meetings. Once your baby gets home he will still need time to recover, so you won’t be able to take him to nursery school straight away (and therefore cannot return to work). For us, our baby was in hospital for 1 week and then at home for 1 week, so my husband and I alternated and took 2 weeks off work.

6. Location – Try to choose a hospital near your home. Most hospitals will not allow the parents to shower there, so if you live close by it makes it easier so you can go home for a quick shower and to get supplies (food and nappies, etc).

7. Toys – bring all your baby’s toys and books from home to keep him company and as comfortable as possible.

8. iPad – this was invaluable to keep our baby preoccupied and happy. Particularly when he was having medical examinations.

9. Visitors – wonderful to have visitors, lifts spirits, especially when your baby is recovering and has more energy (thank you Noriko, Jun, Izumi and Ima for visiting!!)

10. Lots of love!

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4 thoughts on “Advice if your baby is sick and has to stay in hospital in Japan

  1. Beauty Box says:

    Sounds like you had a very stressful time while your baby was in hospital. Happy to know you got through it and thanks for the advice!

    1. Kate says:

      Thanks Yuming! Lovely beauty blog:)

  2. TJ says:

    Hi, My family and I will be staying in Tokyo for 5 years. We will be bringing our 3 month old baby with us. I am quite worried of the availability of western medicines in Tokyo. Would you know if the vaccines are the same?

    1. Kate says:

      Hi TJ, the vaccination schedule is quite different in Japan compared to other countries. Here is the Japanese vaccination schedule for 2014:

      If you’d like to follow the vaccination schedule from your own country, I would recommend making an appointment with Dr Karl Che, or Dr Lomax who is a GP at Tokyo Medical and Surgical Clinic. I have heard they are wonderful doctors and very experienced with expats and have knowledge of vaccinations schedules in other countries. In terms of medicine available in Japan, I would recommend bringing with you medicine that is common in your country, as everything is written in Japanese here and there are many drugs which are not available over the counter here. If you have any questions I would recommend talking with your doctor once you arrive in Japan – you can always bring medicine with you on your next trip or ask family to send it over. Hope this helps and have a wonderful stay in Tokyo with your baby! Kate

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