Are Toddlers Allowed in the Hospital During Delivery?

Updated on July 03, 2014
S.Z. asks from Seattle, WA
28 answers

Hi moms since the beginning of this 2nd pregnancy I have been anxious leaving my 2 year old daughter with my in laws, my parents are out of the country. She is very close to me and her dad so she's used to have us around, and the minute we are lost from sight she cries and look for us. Since my delivery for the 2nd baby is in the next few months the thought of leaving my daughter during my delivery makes me really anxious. I have told that to my husband and he said we can have our daughter with us so she won't be left behind, but the question is - is it allowed in hospitals? I won't be delivering in a private hospital, we can't afford that. Is there anyone out here who have done such? I mean you bring your baby/toddler with you, of course with your husband taking care of her/him while you deliver the 2nd one? Your response is greatly appreciated because it'll give me an overview of what to expect. Thanks a lot!

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answers from Kansas City on

You have family willing to care for her, her grandparents. If she is not very familiar with them right now make a point of spending a lot of time with them for the next couple of months.


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answers from Washington DC on

The issue isn't whether your in-laws are capable of caring for your child, right? The issue is YOUR own anxiety. It's long past time to start having your daughter see a lot more of her grandparents, building up to at least one overnight visit, so she and they are ready when you go into labor. You say you have a few months -- use them to prepare her, them and most of all you. She might cry and fuss but she is not, not, not going to remember this; however you and your husband are in for a really poor experience if she is there when you deliver.

She will not understand what's going on. She won't be allowed into the delivery room. She will be upset and wonder why she can't see mommy and why daddy keeps coming and going. Dad will begin to be upset that she is upset and he may feel torn between being with you and tending her. You could be in labor for many, many hours -- what is supposed to happen with her? Will you be fine with your husband being away getting her a meal or entertaining her at the moment your new baby is born?

The hospital staff will be displeased, frankly, if she's there, and that's IF she's allowed -- many hospitals do not allow very young children to visit at all, in any circumstances. Where is your husband getting his information? From the hospital you will be using? I would wager they would say no to this.

Please get her used to being babysat by the grandparents. It is not just about your giving birth -- if they are OK with babysitting, you may just have found yourself some good sitters for many times to come, not just for this one birth experience. If for some reason the grandparents are not well enough to babysit or otherwise have issues as sitters that you do not mention here -- you need to find a friend who will be part of the plan. Don't take a two-year-old to the hospital for unknown hours, when she could be with someone else, safe and entertained.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

I find a really hard time believing this is an actual question. You have one, you remember the process, do you really think your husband could tend to you and a toddler?

You have two months to get your daughter used to staying with your in laws, problem solved.

You are also talking about getting a tubal after you deliver. Too much for a baby to go though.

Edit: if she was speaking of a home birth I wouldn't find this crazy at all. It is just it isn't. The OP is complaining that her daughter can't handle normal changes in environment like staying with her grandparents so she proposes taking the child to a completely unfamiliar environment like a hospital where she will get none of her attention and part of her dad's attention! That is the definition of insanity!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I went into labor with number 2 at midnight. There is no way I would have made my two-year-old get up and leave with us to go to the hospital. I did, however, make my mom get up at midnight and come to our house!

It worked out beautifully. My daughter was able to be in her own bed, woke up to grandma fixing her breakfast and then had so much fun playing with her. She loved it!

I completely understand your anxiety! But consider have MIL come to YOUR house. It made me feel much better knowing my daughter was in her environment, surrounded by her things, on her routine and cared for by someone who loves her very much. Have your MIL over to learn her routine and to get your daughter used to having her around.

Good luck and enjoy the rest of your pregnancy!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Call the hospital and ask.
But really, why would you put your daughter through that? Don't you remember what it's like to give birth?
You really need to let her spend some time with the in laws NOW. Of course she will cry, at first, but that's what kids do.
You can't possibly care for her while you are in labor, and if your husband is going to be taking care of her then he won't be there for you so he may as well stay home with her.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Roanoke on

This is a good time for you to relinquish some control and loosen your grip on your daughter. Our job as parents is to prepare our children to function well in the world, not to smother them.

She can come visit you after the baby is born.

I'm assuming from your question that your first labor & delivery must have been smooth. But that's not always the case. Sometimes the mom and/or infant need extra interventions that could cause a lot of stress and confusion for a toddler. What if your pain gets out of control (epidurals don't work for everyone)? What if you need a stat c-section? What if your baby experiences shoulder dystocia? What if your baby needs resuscitation or special care after delivery? What if you hemorrhage after delivery? What if your daughter gets tired/hungry/fussy/bored and you still have hours left of labor? Etc, Etc. I'm not trying to scare you. But if you are planning to bring a toddler to your delivery, then you need to have thought through all the scenarios, and plan how you and your husband will react. You husband needs to decide whether his role will be to support you or your daughter. If you need to have a c-section, are you ok with your husband waiting with your daughter in the waiting room, or would you like him to be there to experience the birth of his second child? Even in hospitals that allow children to be present in L&D, when complications arise, the children are usually sent out. So that would mean your husband would also have to leave to attend to your daughter, and you would experience whatever complication is occurring without his support. If you are ok with that, that's your choice. But make an informed decision.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

You would have to check with your hospital to see what their policy is. Even if it were yes, personally, I would not have taken my 2 year old. Labor can be long and not so pretty. Do you really want your 2 year old stuck in a hospital for as long as 24 hours? Do you really want your two year old in the room when you are having contractions? I know I did a lot of moaning and that could be scary for a 2 year old. Do you want your husband availble to help you? Would that be possible with a 2 year old that he also needs to supervise? Will your daughter understand when she wants to cuddle with you and you aren't in a position to hold her? Do you want her in the room everytime they check your dilation or will Dad have to take her out do the room every time? Both of my pregnancies ended with emergency c-sections. It got pretty chaotic in the labor room before they moved me to an OR delivery room. My husband was helping me mentally prepare for a c-section. I don't think I would have been very understanding if he had been distracted by something else. They probably won't let her into the delivery room so that would mean your husband also wouldn't be there for the delivery. Nurses can't watch her in another room. They have jobs to do.

My daughter was 2 when our son was born and had never spent a night away from me. I didn't want to leave her with my MIL but I had no other choice. To prep our daughter, I went and spent a couple of nights with friends from college and my MIL stayed at our house. We talked with her a lot about what would happen when Mommy had to go to the hospital for the baby to be born. When I went to the hospital it wasn't too much of a surprise for her to wake up and have mom and dad gone. She did fine. Start prepping her now and she will be fine.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Sounds like the perfect time for you and your husband to schedule a few date nights, with your MIL coming to your house to babysit. That way your daughter will be used to staying at home with her grandma while you are out.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

Oh honey, you're not thinking straight because you're hormonal and probably tired and all that. Whether or not she's allowed doesn't answer the question of whether it's a good idea. A birth in a hospital could be a very scary thing for a small child to watch. Her mom in pain, screaming, blood, etc. Remember all that? She will see it.

Unless of course you'd like your husband to take her out into the hallway during the tough times... which could be hours. But then you'd lose his support because he'd be the primary caregiver to your daughter.

If your inlaws are monsters, bring her with you. If they're normal caring grandparents (but not maybe your favorite people), leave her with them. Have her stay with them for a few times between now and then so they all get used to it.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My feeling is this: you are having two children and your oldest is going to need to be able to adapt to a lot. Unless there are issues of physical or emotional harm or neglect involved, letting her start to have her own relationship with Grandma and Grandpa is important.

I'm not going to say anything regarding how your daughter might feel to see you laboring. Some women have very contained labors; I know mine was. Some mothers laboring are very, very centered.

That said, what I didn't hear in your post was "I really want to have my daughter with us as a family", and that is what I am more concerned about. Having her there because you feel she's going to be traumatized isn't going to do anyone any good, including her. That's a different reason entirely.

I'm going to be blunt, having worked with many families as a nanny when the second child came: everyone was a little traumatized for a while. Not always in a bad way, but there was always a significant shift in how the family ran.

Our children sometimes need these experiences to grow and we need to propose them positively back to our kids. "You GET to stay with Gran and Grandpa for a few days!" Load her up with a bag of fun things to do, somethings to keep her happy and busy, her security items, snacks she loves. You make it as easy as you can for her and then, you trust that your in-laws will work it out, and then have a friend on hand for either you or your daughter (in case your husband does need to go to her)... but do what other moms have suggested and practice this long in advance. If you dread her going to her grandparents, if you don't just make this a nice, small part of life, she's not going to feel relaxed about it. When I left my son with his preschool teachers, caregivers, and teachers at school, I always let him know that I was confident he would do fine. And he did.

Please think about what would really work for you during your labor.

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answers from Reading on

You're kidding, right?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Please find a close friend who can handle your daughter's separation anxiety. Not only would a toddler in the delivery room be very distracting to you and the workers, but she would be very frightened to see her mother in pain and would be neglected by both parents who wouldn't have the focus to give her. Moreover, this is the only time you will ever have with just your baby. Doesn't your new baby deserve an opportunity to have just his parents?

I cannot think of a worse idea.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I had all sorts of family coming and going during labor in the birthing room. It was a bit of a party. When the going got tough, my toddlers were gently taken home by aunty and uncle. You and your husband simply will not be able to look after your two year old while you are birthing. You will need the support of your husband, and he will want to give it to you. Your toddler will be fine, loved, safe, fed etc with grandma and grandpa.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Even if the hospital does allow it (which is unlikely, but call them) it's a terrible idea. Your two year old will probably be so frightened!
If you are truly alone n the world, without even one single friend to call on for help, I would recommend your husband stay home with her after dropping you off.
I would rather give birth on my own than subject a young child to the sights and sounds of a hospital birth.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

Everyone approaches the birth process differently.

Some of these answers seem so crazy to me but I had home births with both my girls. Of course my second was in the house for the birth of her sister. She was 3 1/2 and a very verbal child so we prepared her for what she might experience. My Mom was there to occupy her during labor but it turned out to be very short. My daughter saw her sister for the first time, turned to her Dad and said "I told you it was going to be a girl!"

I assure you she was not scarred for life. She was there to witness a natural and very normal process that siblings have been present for over many thousands of years.

I do agree that you need another person there in case of the unexpected. Maybe a close friend, auntie or other relative could help out. I just want you to know what you're proposing is not nearly as crazy as many of these responses would suggest. Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

So you want to bring your toddler into a busy hospital room where there may or may not be complications. where you will be bleeding out of your private area and there will be strangers to your daughter pulling a screaming crying infant out of those private areas. Are you looking to cause your toddler to have severe trauma? are you thinking the staff will care for her? are you ok with your husband being told to take her out to the waiting area? pay a freaking babysitter. sorry if that sounded harsh. there are some places a toddler doesn't need to be. and a delivery room is one of them.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Do you not have a close friend who could watch your toddler? I know if my parents had been the only choice when I went into labor, I would have only left my daughter with them if it was an emergency. But I have close friends I would have been comfortable leaving her with. In fact, the plan had been to leave her with my mother in law, but in the end, we had a friend from out of town spending the weekend with us when I went into labor and he just stayed at the house with her until morning when my MIL came to take her to the hospital.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You will want your husband to be with you during labor and delivery, and not running all over trying to amuse a toddler. Since you have a few months to go, now is the time to get your toddler used to being at other people's houses, either your in-laws or at friends' houses. When I went into the hospital to deliver my second child (my first child was at her grandparents' house for a few days in another town), there was another mother laboring who had her 2 year old with her in the room. The mom was screaming and carrying on, which as you know is not out of the ordinary for having a baby, but it terrified the child. One of the nurses had to bring the little one out into the hallway, and she was sobbing. She didn't understand what was happening to her mom.

I would just try very hard to find someone reliable who can watch your daughter for you for a day or two while you deliver the new baby. Your husband can pick her up at the end of the day so she will still see him, and when you're all cleaned up, he can bring her to see you and meet the new baby at the hospital. If you treat going to grandma and grandpa's overnight as an adventure, your daughter will, too.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

We had no family here when I had my second and I was beside myself about leaving my first who was under 2. It worked out fine. My oldest does not remember. You never know how long labor will be or if there will be complications. A young child should not be there. I'd rather have not had my husband and been on my own than have my oldest there. She will be fine. My oldest loves the story of when we brought our youngest home and her not so happy reaction. It's all funny now and she is in no way scarred. Your husband can be home as much as possible. All first time parents think their child is unusually attached to them but it's the case for almost all and they get thru it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

Call the hospital and ask, some have rules that kids under a certain age aren't allowed. Think long and hard about what would be more traumatic for her, staying with her grandparents (where she will stop crying after you have left, they always do) or seeing Mommy give birth. If you decide to have her there, count on hubby taking care of her and not you. Be prepared that he might have to take her out if she gets upset, leaving you laboring alone. My son had just turned 3 when my younger son was born in April. I was nervous about leaving him with grandparents (he'd never spent the night away from us before), but am so glad I did. He had a great time, and DH and I got to focus on the new baby completely.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Call the hospital and ask. That's the only way to know what THEIR Rules are.

As for me, I would never plan to have my husband in the delivery room watching my toddler son while I was delivery the younger sibling. NO!

Husband needs to be there FOR YOU. He needs to be helping you. Coaching you. Waiting on you. Being YOUR advocate.
NOT entertaining a 2 yr old.

Have someone meet you at the hospital and keep your 2 yr old in the lobby, or take her to their house, or back to your house to stay with her... something. (even if you can have her in the delivery room with you, you need another adult who will be responsible solely for her, that is not your husband. What if she gets upset or has to go to the bathroom at an inopportune time? She isn't the job of the nurses.... have a trusted adult there to manage her).
And start letting your in-laws spend more one-on-one time with her NOW. She will be fine. Otherwise, you are doing her a disservice by not giving her the opportunity to grow to trust a wider range of people. Usually this group of people starts with close family and friends, and expands up to baby sitters, play group moms, daycare, and eventually schools and coaches.

You haven't gotten past you and your husband after 2 years? Why?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Hi There!

So I read the first handful of responses and quite frankly I was a little disgusted at the judgmental condescending replies!!

I honestly can relate to you.. We moved here from across the country with no family and I am due in a few months with a toddler also almost three years old. It's not easy to part with your child, especially during a hormonal rollercoaster such as pregnancy! Personally, we are having a family member fly in to watch our daughter so that my husband can be with me during the birth of our daughter.

I would recommend either trying to establish a better connection with your in-laws or trying out a nanny for a bit before your due date. I would not recommend bringing your child to your birth because of the possibility of complications, to keep the delivery room as calm as possible for the nurses, doctor and the new baby.. However, one possibility might be asking your in-laws to bring your child to the hospital if there is a family waiting room there.. but keep in mind your toddler will most likely be bored!!

Another suggestion is hiring a doula that can assist you during your childbirth so that your husband can watch your toddler, but I'm not so sure your husband will want to miss the birth of his second child.. I know mine wouldn't.

Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You're emotional and hormonal right now, so you can be forgiven for this level of anxiety.

I doubt you can have a toddler in a room with medical personnel there, in and out, etc. Aside from the safety and liability issues, you really need to think about whether this is even something you want your child to see! Mommy groaning, lots of fluids and blood, endless medical issues, doctors and nurses? You want to scare your child so she never wants to see a doctor again? You want her to hate the baby for making Mommy have so much pain? You expect your husband to run around and entertain a toddler who cannot go to sleep anywhere but her own bed, let alone in a room with lights and noise and no crib? I can't believe your husband thinks he can manage this for 5 minutes.

If that's your plan, you would be better off going to the hospital alone and leaving your husband home with the toddler. You're going to be alone either way, so the child might as well be home where it's comfortable.

As others have said, start having the inlaws come to your house to babysit, first with you there, and later with you out for the evening or off doing errands. Have Grandma and Grandpa there at different times of the day so they know the routine, where stuff is, what her food choices are, what the bedtime rituals are, etc.

This is excellent practice anyway, because once you have a second child, you will have to learn to juggle kids, to make one wait while the other is attended to, keep one quiet while one goes to sleep, and so on and so on.

The only time I have ever, ever heard of a toddler being around during a delivery is with a home birth and only with plenty of people there to take care of her. I have one friend who did this, and there's a huge question of whether it was a good idea or whether the sights and sounds are so incredibly overwhelming for a child with no frame of reference.

Talk to your OB/GYN and talk to the pediatrician about whether this is even a good idea from the standpoint of the child's welfare. I doubt you will find anyone who will agree with you on this, or any hospital who will permit this.

It's time to get on good terms with your inlaws, and to let your daughter learn that other people can take care of her, that she is loved, and that she will always be secure no matter where you and Daddy are.

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answers from Chicago on

Have you thought of a home birth?

I did this with my second and third. It was great, I could put the other kids to bed, etc. and no one experienced any real stress.

I did send my kids away during the actual labor, but it was during the day, and they love playdates with grammie anyway. They were home by dinner or shortly thereafter, I read them books in bed, and that was that.

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answers from Indianapolis on

You should look into the rules at the hospital you will be delivering. But a general answer would be no. My oldest was just 1 when her sister was born. Literally about to celebrate her first birthday. And she was left with my in-laws so that my husband could be with me. Keep in mind that if you bring your daughter and your husband has to tend to her (probably in the waiting room) then he won't be there for YOU. Personally I'd give up feeling anxious and worried about it. She's 2! It will be fine. And if it does bother you that much to leave her then consider giving birth at home or maybe a birthing center(if they do allow children to be present, I'm not sure).

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answers from Seattle on

Well the only way to find out is asking your hospital's policy on this. Then you will know.

Personally I think it's fine for kids to observe a birth. I would probably not choose to take them to a hospital birth though and I find two a little young, not for observing the birth, but just because of their needs: it may take a long time and they may get restless, which in turn I would find distracting. But if you don't mind that your husband might be leaving the room with her if it gets too boring or upsetting for her I think it will work out.

I will have my 6 year old attending the birth of her little brother in a few weeks, with my husband being her support person (I do better on my own in labor). I will deliver at a free-standing birth center, so the atmosphere is just very different from most hospitals and the staff and midwives are used to having siblings of all ages attend the births there - it is rarely ever an issue.

We just simply have no-one else to care for her: our family lives across the country/overseas and our friends have busy lives themselves that (can't expect them to take a day off work to watch my child). But apart from the practicalities I also think it will be a great learning opportunity for my daughter.

Good luck.


answers from San Diego on

Depends on the hospital. Some do not allow young children to be there, some even aren't allowed in the waiting room. You need to check the policy of the hospital.
I had my second and third children at a free standing birth center. My older children were there for each one. It was fantastic having them there! We made plans so my mom was in charge of keeping an eye on them so my husband was free to take care of me and I was free to concentrate on the job at hand. The kids could come and go from the room I was laboring in and an adjacent room where they could color or read or whatever if they wanted to. We brought some videos for my older ones because the birth center has a player we could use. They got some new toys and activities that were bought especially for the birth day. My mom packed special snacks for the older kids.
I didn't have to stay for a couple days as well. The birth center only requires you to stay for 6 hours after birth then you can go home assuming there are no complications. Granted, I checked myself out of the hospital after my first was born after about 6 hours too because I refused to stay there.
I would not recommend you or your husband being in charge of them while at the hospital, I do highly recommend you have someone you can trust assigned that job that comes to the hospital to be in charge of your older child. If you don't have someone other than you or your husband to watch him I'm not sure it is the best choice unless you don't really want your husband helping you. A doula is a wonderful thing to hire if you don't want your husband helping you. (I understand not all husbands are much help sometimes LOL).
My older children were in no way traumatized by being there. They were in no way a bad distraction to me or got in the way at all. When my third was born the boys were completely fascinated by everything and asking the midwives questions that were getting answered. They were being my cheerleaders which was a real boost to me. I could see their sweet faces and knew it was all going to be over soon and so worth it all. Just seconds after their sister was born they were right there to greet her. It was only a handful of minutes after birth that they were both on the bed with me "playing" with their baby sister. I would have my older children there again in a heartbeat if I were to ever have another child!



answers from Kansas City on

You would have to contact your hospital to know the answer. I'm sure she would be allowed in the waiting room.

I totally understand not having family close by. We are a military family and have never lived within 1000 miles of family. But, I know how important it is for you and your husband to have your time and your daughter to be comfortable with separation (for short periods of time). It's healthy for everyone. This will make the transition to preschool or kindergarten easier down the road.

I would encourage you to leave her with your in-laws for short periods starting now. That way everyone will be prepared. So many things can happen during delivery. What if they decide to do a c-section at the last minute? Will your husband stay with your daughter and send you alone? What if they put your new baby in the NICU for a few days? They won't allow your daughter in and you'll feel torn between two kids.

If you like your in-laws and feel they are good people, help foster a better/closer relationship between them and your daughter. It will help for the delivery and beyond.

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