Child Life

Child Life at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital helps children cope with the adjustments of being in a hospital by providing a variety of play experiences. These activities help both children and families gain a greater understanding of medical procedures, which helps reduce stress and fear of the unknown. Through play, the child life specialist helps facilitate the emotional and social growth of a child during the crisis of illness.

Child Life

In collaboration with the Yale-New Haven medical staff, a certified child life specialist is available to all children in the hospital and in our clinics to provide:

  • Medical play, which helps children learn about various tests, procedures and surgeries and corrects any misconceptions children may have.
  • Distraction techniques to minimize the stress during an examination or procedure. These techniques can be as simple as blowing bubbles or having a favorite toy nearby, which make the hospital a little less scary and the procedure a little bit easier.
  • Expressive activities that encourage children to share their thoughts and feelings about their hospital experience.
  • Developmentally appropriate information and preparation about medical procedures.
  • Support for the child and family during medical procedures and examinations.

Art and recreational activities are offered in playrooms, as well as medical play, magic shows and holiday celebrations. Patients of all ages are welcome. If a child cannot come to a playroom because of activity restrictions or isolation precautions, a child life specialist can provide recreational and therapeutic activities at the bedside.

Hours are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. For more information, please call 203.688.2334.

Bridgeport Hospital campus

Child life specialists are also available at the Bridgeport campus. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, please call 203.384.3628

Arts for Healing

Arts for Healing programs at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital offer children creative expression through daily group activities and individual sessions with our team of professional artists, and art and music therapists. Daily group activities and events ease the stress and isolation of the hospital experience and allow families to enjoy time together away from the medical routine. Please ask your child life specialist about activities available on your unit.

Programs include:

  • Art Therapy, offering a non-verbal process for expression and self-discovery through digital art and other media.
  • Daily Activities, nurturing each child’s artistic expression. Patients unable to attend groups are offered similar activities in their room.
  • Digital Storytelling (multimedia production), in which children learn about multimedia production and explore all phases of video making as a tool for self-expression.
  • Hole in the Wall Gang Camp Hospital Outreach Program, bringing the joy of camp activities to the hospital setting through recreational and fun activities designed to build positive self-esteem.
  • Music Therapy, supporting healing through singing, music play, improvisation, song-writing and music-assisted imagery that address the emotional and developmental needs of children of all ages.
  • Neonatal Music Therapy, adapting live music to provide gentle stimulation for growth and development or soothing sounds to comfort our most fragile infants and support the parent-child relationship.
  • Poetry and Spoken Word, encouraging children and teens to give voice to their feelings and their world, including their healthcare experience.
  • Storytime, transforming beloved children’s literature into interactive and educational experiences.

Interested in interning in the Child Life department at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital? Find out more.

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