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How to keep your toddler and infant entertained and you sane waiting in the doctor's office

I’ve got an idea which may be the norm at other doctors’ offices, but not at the ones I visit. While I'm waiting, I get to take advantage of some complimentary services. Here are some of my ideas: a health consultation for what are the best things for my family to be eating, eh?  Or a photography session with their in house photographer who’s great at capturing everyday moments.  Or a fresh baked cookie to take the edge off the irritation bubbling below the surface after waiting for an hour, with your 3 year old, and 8 month old. Or schedule 10 more minutes for each appointment, so the crushing, mind numbing, back log isn’t so bad anymore.  A girl can dream. My one other gripe is paperwork. I would be happy to fill out all paperwork if I could get it the visit before, or in the mail, or downloaded from the website. It is hard to juggle an infant and keep an eye on a toddler and fill out paperwork all at the same time. But I digress, back to the wait.

Waiting results in me planning my escape, and trimming my 10 burning questions for the doctor down to 3, because I am ready to get out of there.  But I want to share how I try and make the waiting as pain and stress free as possible, and get all my questions answered.

So, my large diaper bag is always safely stowed in the car (consult my previous post for What to pack in the diaper bag). I like to have a second diaper bag that is small, light, and easy to carry with the bare essentials in circumstances like doctor's visits or going out to eat or anywhere really. I always keep the diaper bag that contains every solution for any possible emergency in the car where it's accessible, but when I am already hauling two kids to and fro, I like to lighten my load as much as possible.

Mini diaper bag, what to pack diaper bag, mom advice

So, the mini diaper bag has the following: 4 diapers for baby, 1 change of clothes for baby, 2 jars of baby food, 1 spoon in a plastic bag, a roll of small trash bags (for dirty diapers, dirty clothes, used baby food jars), 1 package of wipes, a bib, two wash clothes (too wipe baby's face while eating), snacks for the toddler (almonds, grapes), water in a leak proof cup, and 1 new board book that my toddler has never laid eyes on.

This mini diaper bag and my purse is all I carry with me. I don't start handing out snacks, or a new book until they are needed. As long as my kiddos are happy and entertaining themselves, I keep my snacks and book out of sight. Just being in a new place like the doctor's office provides a distraction for toddlers, as well as, people watching. When we get called back to the exam room, where we also wait, this is usually where I think about handing him the book. But first I let him tell me what he sees, and look around the exam room. My 9 month old is a relatively content kiddo most of the time, so he is happy just sitting on my lap watching his brother. But if your baby needs more stimulation, you may want to bring a toy that they are not familiar with to the doctor's office. My baby likes things that crinkle. If you're in a bind for a distraction for an infant, there is usually paper on the exam table that they can crinkle, tear, and touch, and this will keep them entertained.

When my toddler has seemed to reach the point where he wants to dig through all the things in the exam room, I reach for the book, or another object I think will captivate my kiddo's interest. I let him look through the pages and pictures, we read it together, and then we go back through and point out things we see on each page.

By then, hopefully, the doctor comes through, and after asking all my questions, we can check out and be on our way. When we get back in the car to head to our next errand or home, I hand over the first snack, almonds this time.

Now, I need to back up here and make sure I'm setting you up for success. Try your best to make sure your kids have eaten before heading to the doctor or on any errand, so they are not immediately hungry. If there's no time for them to eat at home, give them something they can snack on in the car, on the way, if they are old enough. Try to nurse or bottle feed your baby before you go.

In the case of our most recent doctor's visit, we then had to go to an outpatient facility to get blood drawn for a routine anemia test. Since I had snacks and baby food, and everyone was still in a good mood, I went for it and knocked it out. Once we started our wait at the outpatient place, I broke open the baby food. While I feed the baby, my toddler is people watching and telling me about everything he sees in this new space. Other people's kids are a great distraction for toddlers too. Then, believe it or not, we go to another waiting area, and luckily there is a television with cartoons. So, my toddler watches animation, while his brother finishes up his snack.

Then, we get the blood drawn. My toddler does a good job of trying to comfort his baby brother verbally while also being thoroughly engrossed watching what the nurses are doing. Once, we're all done and get strapped back in the car, I hand over the second snack, grapes in this case. And off we go.

I hope this helps first time parents prepare for doctors visits with little ones. I remember the first appointments with our first kiddo being stressful, because we didn't know what to expect, and it's hard to keep an infant happy if they are hungry, tired, and just all around grumpy. So, I hope this view into the day and the life of being a mom with two little ones in tow helps make your day run a little smoother, but also know that I had and have a lot of days and doctors visits with crying babies, and that's just part of it, especially until I got comfortable, and had experience with soothing stressed little ones. What are your ideas of a great way for a doctor’s office to take the edge off waiting and encourage a great experience for all?

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