Comfort Zone: Helping your child manage pain

We understand that, as a parent, one of your first concerns when your child is diagnosed with a medical condition or needs some kind of treatment is keeping your child comfortable and pain-free.

Comfort Zone teddy bearWe're here to help

At Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, our health care team works with children and families to make sure their experience at Children’s is as easy and comfortable as possible.

"The Comfort Zone" is not a place. It is our pledge to you that we will make every effort to keep your child as comfortable as safely as possible during every visit to Children's.

How we go the extra mile

Although it may not be possible to take away all of the pain, we will do everything possible to minimize it. In addition to using pain medicine when appropriate, we will help your child cope with discomfort by using non-medication interventions, such as relaxation or distraction. We also have Child Life and pet therapy available to help.

You can count on us to do everything we can for your child. For example:

  • If your child must undergo a needle-related procedure (intravenous or IV line, blood draw, immunization), we will help him or her relax, and we may use a numbing medicine to help decrease the pain. We may also be able to place some IVs after we’ve sedated your child for a procedure or surgery.
  • When it is best for your child, we will perform procedures in a treatment room so your child feels safe in his or her own room and in the playroom.
  • We will respond quickly to reports of pain.
  • We will measure your child's pain based on his or her level of understanding.
  • We will support you, as parents, in your role as part of our pain team.
  • We will give you information about how to best help your child before, during and after a procedure or surgery.
  • Most of the time, you will be able to be with your child during procedures we perform outside of the operating room.
  • We will give you information about pain and pain management choices. We will work with you to develop a plan to relieve your child's pain.
  • After the procedure or surgery, we will make every effort to keep your child comfortable using the plan. We will change the plan if necessary to make your child more comfortable.

What parents can do to help

As a parent or caregiver, you know your child better than anyone else. You can help us understand when your child is in pain or uncomfortable.

Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse.

We understand that you are an important part of your child’s care team, and we value your input and participation. Please don’t hesitate to talk to your child's doctor or nurse about your child’s pain, including:

  • What to expect regarding pain and pain management
  • Pain relief options for your child
  • Pain, when it first begins or if is not relieved
  • Creating a pain management plan
  • Questions you have about your child's pain management

Comfort your child.

There are steps you can take to help comfort your child, no matter how old he or she is. Below are some suggestions based on your child’s age. 

  • Infants
    • Rocking
    • Singing
    • Playing soothing music
    • Holding
    • Gently massaging
    • Giving a pacifier
    • Asking your child’s nurse about sucrose (sugar water) prior to procedures
  • Toddlers
    • Rocking
    • Holding
    • Listening to music
    • Blowing bubbles
    • Playing
    • Pet therapy
  • Preschoolers
    • Talking about the procedure
    • Blowing bubbles
    • Telling stories
    • Watching movies
    • Using distraction tools (pop-up books, toys, video games)
    • Playing or acting out the procedure
    • Pet therapy
  • School-age children / young adults
    • Breathing techniques
    • Visual imagery
    • Watching movies
    • Playing video games
    • Listening to music
    • Reading
    • Massaging
    • Explaining the procedure and answering questions
    • Pet therapy

Download the Comfort Zone brochure (pdf) to learn more about our pledge and how you can help keep your child as comfortable, at ease, and pain-free as possible.

Acute pain

The Jane B. Pettit Pain Management Center provides pain care for children with acute and chronic pain. We provide an Acute/Inpatient Pain Service to help patients who have pain while they are in the hospital. Anesthesiologists and advanced practice nurses work with patients, families, nurses, doctors and other health care professionals to keep our patients comfortable.

Chronic pain

The Chronic Pain Clinic provides outpatient evaluation and pain care services for children who have chronic or longstanding pain. You can feel confident knowing that a team of experts will treat your child. The specialists who work with your child will depend upon his or her specific needs, but they may include:

  • An anesthesiologist
  • A psychologist
  • A family therapist
  • A nurse
  • An acupuncturist
  • A physical therapist
  • An occupational therapist
  • A social worker

Learn more about how our Jane B. Pettit Pain Management Center can help your child.