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Comfort items


When children and teens come to the hospital, it can be a scary time for them because they are leaving behind everything they know as “home.” Many families have found it helpful to bring comfort items with them for the patient. St. Jude staff members know that comfort items are an important part of a child’s life no matter what may be happening to him.

Because of their diseases and treatments, St. Jude patients are more likely to get infections. Soft cloth items attract dust and germs that can cause infection. So, the hospital staff prefers that you bring comfort items with smooth surfaces that can be washed easily. If your child or teen needs a cloth item such as a stuffed animal or blanket, please discuss this need with the doctor. If the doctor allows the soft comfort item, please follow the guidelines below to help lower your child’s risk of infection.

Comfort items and inpatient stays

  • Comfort items should be washed upon entering the hospital and before leaving.
  • You can wash your child’s soft comfort item with the hospital washer and dryer as needed.
  • When entering the hospital, please put the item in a plastic bag to transport it to the inpatient floors. You can take the item out of the plastic bag when your child is in the inpatient room.
  • If a comfort item or toy falls on the floor, it should be cleaned before it is given back to your child.
  • When your child is discharged from the hospital, please try to wash the comfort item in the hospital washing machine before leaving. If this is not possible, place the item in a plastic bag when leaving the hospital room. Then, wash the item as soon as you reach your home or housing facility.

Comfort items and outpatient visits

  • You can bring comfort items to outpatient visits.
  • Please keep the comfort item close to you and your child, so it will stay as clean as possible. Keeping the item close at hand can also prevent loss.


If you have more questions about comfort items and how to prevent infection, please talk to your child life specialist, nurse, or doctor.

This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

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