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975 East Third Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Children's Hospital at Erlanger Erlanger Baroness Campus Erlanger Bledsoe Campus Erlanger East Campus Erlanger North Campus UT Erlanger Physicians Group

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Child Life Program


Child Life Services

The hospital can be a scary place for children and their families. The goal of Child Life is to minimize stress and anxiety as much as possible.  Child Life Specialists work with patients and families to promote a positive medical experience.

Who are Child Life Specialists?

  • Trained professionals with either a bachelor's or master's degree in a field of study related to child development.
  • Nationally certified in child development and unique needs of hospitalized children and their families.
  • Part of the healthcare team, working closely with physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, ER technicians and social workers.
  • Individuals who care for the psychosocial and emotional needs of the hospitalized child.

How can a Child Life Specialist help?

  • Normalize the environment. Through providing diversional activities like coloring pages, word searches, and board games, Child Life Specialists help make the hospital environment child friendly.
  • Prepare for procedures. Child Life Specialists can help you and your child know what to expect during a necessary procedure (IV, stitches, sedation, or surgery) by providing age appropriate teaching.
  • Distract during procedures. Child Life Specialists can assist patients in coping during uncomfortable procedures through techniques like distraction, breathing exercises, guided imagery, and diversion.
  • Provide emotional support. During traumatic events, Child Life Specialists can be a calming and reassuring presence for you and your child.
  • If your child's visit to the ER results in admission to the inpatient unit or the intensive care unit, Child Life Specialists can help you understand the sequence of events and what to expect during your hospital stay.

Tools of the trade: Child Life Specialists can use many teaching tools to help your child cope with a visit to the hospital.

  • Teaching dolls: Child Life Specialists use teddy bears and puppets to provide developmentally appropriate teaching prior to procedures.
  • Preparation kits and medical play: Child Life Specialists use kits with actual medical equipment to help to patients understand and prepare for their care.
  • Buzzy: Buzzy is a palm sized device that can be used during uncomfortable procedures to block unpleasant sensations. Cold and vibration together act as a type of nerve block.
  • Distraction items: Bubbles, music, light up toys, eye spy books, and the ipad are all tools that can be use to keep your child distracted and ease their worries.

The Child Life Department at Children’s Hospital conducts the pre-surgery tours. For more information and to register for a tour, call 778-2154.


Department of Surgery Main Line:

(423) 778-2142

Department of Surgery Fax:
(423) 778-6073

(423) 778-5241

Department of Surgery Child Life Specialist:
(423) 778-2154

Child Life Department:
(423) 778-6814