My sister is a doctor. I talk about her a lot. I knew the day would come when our 2.5 year old would understand that being a doctor is an important job and relationship in our lives.
Over the last few months he has begun to understand that doctors take care of us and try very hard to make us well. My son has always, beginning at his 9 month wellness exam, been deathly afraid of the doctor.
We’re talking the moment we drive into the parking lot, red faced, screaming, sweaty fear. So his genuine and natural curiosity melts my heart.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I were doing a few things in our bedroom and bathroom while our boys toddled around the upstairs. Next thing I hear is, “Mama, look, a stethascope. I am a doctor. I am going to take care of you.” If it weren’t for the fact that he had the cord of a shade around his neck (to his credit, it DID look like a stethoscope). Too scary, though. I didn’t even have to say a word to my husband as I saw him quickly researching “stethoscopes for kids” on Amazon.
The stethoscope was an instant hit.
After this most recent experience, I have jumped on medical pretend play. I searched the internet and was not too impressed with the medical pretend play set available. I can get a “costume” and an off the shelf “pretend play medical kit” but I really want him to get the experience. So, we’re on a DIY Medical Center Pretend Play mission. Here is what we’ve come up with so far, not without inspiration from several other amazingly creative mommy bloggers.
Pretend Play Doctor
Doctor’s Office – He really wants his own doctor’s office. Until we happen upon a large enough cardboard box to create such a lovely place, we’ll be improvising with pieces of furniture, using our living room “coffee” table as his examination table. We even laid “paper” down on it, per his request, just like at our pediatrician’s office. We’re including a handwashing station and waiting area, too.
Real Life X-Rays – I ordered these X-Ray cards from Amazon. eBay also had some available. I also laminated a few ultrasound images (thank you Chasing Cheerios for that idea!). I can’t wait to put these X-Rays on our light table for a little analysis.
Eye Chart – I used a great FREE online resource to download a pdf eye chart. I laminated this chart for extra protection! I stuck the chart on a wall as the “eye checking station”.
Patient Charts – I printed out a sketch of the human body and am using a clipboard. Simple and very inexpensive.
Lab Coat – We ordered our lab coat from Amazon for a reasonable price. There are easy ways to recreate this same idea with a white button-down dress shirt a little too big for your child, for example.
Doctor’s Bag – My 2.5-year-old’s bag includes a stethoscope, an otoscope, a reflex hammer, and a blood pressure cuff. I also threw in band-aids, gauze, face masks, syringes, a hot/cold pack, an ace bandage, a thermometer, a prescription pad, and medical tape. All of these items were inexpensive and from Amazon and Dollar Tree.
Learning about the Human Body
- Puzzle – I bought a 5 Layer Puzzle from Amazon. A great hands-on way to teach your child about all the different layers
- Doctor’s Office Excursion – There is a local children’s museum that has a pretend to play medical center. I am also going to be really focused on our next trip to the doctor and try to make it an educational visit beyond just the wellness exam.
- Paper bag lungs – My son is a little young for this activity but I am going to give it a go anyway. I will have to take the lead and prepare the “lungs” and figure out the best way to explain to him how lungs help us breathe.