In an effort to help my daughter become more comfortable going to the doctor’s office, I was inspired to introduce to her some pretend play on the theme. Formerly a tantrum-inducing battle, taking her temperature suddenly became a fascinating experience; she pursued M and I time and again to take our temperature and let us take her own with little fuss. This little kit has been the impetus for pockets of creative play, where her baby dolls arms and legs have been cleaned and bandaged, records have been logged on her medical record chart, and we were kept abreast of our temperatures.
A resource for this project was: http://www.kristensguide.com/Family/Fun_Kid_Stuff/pretend_and_learn_doctor.asp
Age: 3+ years (V is two, but doesn’t put things in her mouth, so be cautious with choking hazards)
Materials: Old metal lunch box or cardboard box, white or grey primer spray, white and red paint, cotton balls, tongue depressors, empty and cleaned medicine droppers, old t-shirts, disposable medical masks, file folder, mini pencil and paper, document clip, cheap digital thermometer
Instructions: I found an old metal lunch box at a thrift store and we primed the lunch box with white primer spray paint. I would recommend using grey primer if you have a dark colored lunch box you are trying to cover. You can then spray white paint over the box, or do what I did (because the spray primer did not cover the logos completely) which is paint the box by hand using acrylic paint. I also painted a red cross on the front of the box. Remember that First Aid kits have crosses with equivalent lengths, unlike Christian crosses (my husband reminded me of this).
Inside, I gathered cotton balls, tongue depressors, cleaned medicine (needle-less) syringes, gauze, a paper medical mask, an old insurance card and an old thermometer. I made V a medical chart by clipping paper to the inside of a file folder, and included pencils in her kit.
I made bandages by cutting strips of cloth from an old white t-shirt just the right size for wrapping dolly arms and legs.
I cut out faux BandAids from pieces of brown and tan colored felt. A trip to the ER (for a treatable and resolved infection) with V produced a pair of plastic gloves to add to the kit. We also found a Certified First Aid badge among my old Girl Scout badges that I will use (thinking about how to make a doctor’s coat…) for a future project.
There are many items you can choose to include in your doctor’s kit. One I would refrain from using until children are a bit older is fake pills or actual empty bottles of medicine; small children can get the idea that they can make decisions about taking medicine. It is my preference to err on the safe side of waiting to introduce this concept until my daughter is old enough to understand the appropriate medicine safety rules.
I hope you enjoy your homemade kits; I used things that we had in the house. I plan to add a cheap used stethoscope someday; I’m scouting thrift stores for items. You can, of course, purchase a pre-made kit relatively cheaply, so be careful that you don’t bust the budget while building your own. I just like the quality and realistic experience of a homemade kit, but either will facilitate creative playtimes for your little one. Hopefully, the play experience will also make the next doctor’s visit a little bit less scary as well!