Child Life Services in St. Louis

Child Life Services at Mercy Kids in St. Louis

Putting Patients & Families at Ease

We understand that a hospital visit can be overwhelming for a child at Mercy Kids Children's Hospital in St. Louis. When kids come to us for care, our child life specialists step in to make their visit as comfortable as possible. Child Life programs are tailored to your child’s needs – whether that’s preparing for a day of surgery or extended treatment over many days.

What is a Child Life Specialist?

Child life specialists are caring, trained professionals who work with kids and their families to ease the stress and anxiety of a hospital stay. They provide support before and during medical treatment. Child life specialists are on staff to help patients in the following areas:

  • Ambulatory surgery unit
  • Tests and treatments
  • Pediatric Emergency Department
  • NICU
  • Pediatrics
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

Call the child life office for more information about educational opportunities.

Mercy Kids Children’s Hospital Child Life Programs in St. Louis

Child life specialists offer age-appropriate explanations of medical terms and procedures, so your child has a clearer understanding of what’s happening. Helping to reduce anxiety and fear of the unknown by providing honest and complete age-appropriate explanations and answers to questions. The specialist may even accompany your child to a procedure to provide distraction and support. Older siblings are also provided age-appropriate preparation and support to understand and cope with emotions.

Mercy Children’s Hospital offers age-appropriate bedside activities and a playroom, where children can interact with each other and feel as though their hospitalization is a normal part of getting better. Child life specialists provide age-appropriate toys, movies, games and crafts. Art projects can be created using medical equipment related to their experience. The specialist can also arrange for a class with a certified infant massage instructor.  

Medical play helps children better understand their illness, the human body and what to expect during a procedure. It gives children a chance to express themselves and provides a sense of what education might still be needed. Therapeutic medical play helps your child express fears or concerns, learn about the hospital environment and better understand and cope with emotions. Medical play may occur individually or as a group in the playroom.

Our special room just for teen patients has video games, music and more to provide a comfortable place to relax and unwind.

If your child will be having surgery at Mercy Kids Children’s Hospital, your family may request a tour of the surgery area and inpatient unit (if applicable), an explanation of medical equipment and a question-and-answer session with a child life specialist.

Music therapists use music and music activities, both instrumental and vocal, to promote positive diversion, comfort and relaxation. Children get an opportunity to take part in creating, singing and/or moving to music through the music therapy interventions.

Pet therapy reduces the stress of hospitalization by bringing a warm, friendly presence into the child’s environment. Animals provide entertainment while enhancing the child’s emotional, social and physical well-being.

Child life specialists can help siblings prepare for and cope with the death of a family member – all while speaking at the child’s level, using words they can understand.