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Child Life Services

Child Life Specialists help children and families cope with the stress and anxiety that often accompany a hospital experience. They are trained in teaching children and adolescents about medical procedures in a developmentally appropriate manner to further meet the specific needs of your child and facilitate effective coping methods. They are a family centered resource catered to you and your family’s needs.

You might spot us in many different places throughout the hospital system, including the Children's Emergency Department, the Pediatric Unit, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Day Surgery, Endoscopy, and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

WakeMed Child Life Services focus on pediatric patients and family members ages 0 to 17.

Childrens Day Surgery


Who are Child Life Specialists?

Each child life specialist has a minimum of a bachelor's degree in child life, child development, recreational therapy, or related field. After completing 600 hours of paid work or internship under the supervision of a certified child life specialist, they must pass the Child Life Professional Certification Examination through the Association of Child Life Professionals.

Meet Our Specialists


A Better Hospital Experience for Kids

Our Child Life Specialists focus on making your child's hospitalization a good experience by:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety for children, teens, and family members regarding the medical environment and experiences
  • Preparing children, teens, and families for hospitalization, medical procedures, and/or surgery according to age/development
  • Facilitating and promoting distraction and coping during medical procedures and examinations according to age/development
  • Encouraging self-expression and normalization through general play, medical play, and therapeutic activities
  • Providing developmentally appropriate resources/activities/comfort items (playrooms, movies, video games, and crafts) to promote coping
  • Supporting the emotional and educational needs of parents, siblings, and family members who are with the patient
  • Leading educational workshops, in-services, and presentations highlighting the care of pediatric patients
  • Providing emotional support for families during pediatric cases of trauma and/or bereavement
  • Collaborating with other medical team members to create educational resources for patients, families, and medical staff

If you are interested in speaking with a child life specialist, please ask your nurse or call (919) 350-7744 to speak with a specialist directly or to leave a message for a specialist in the department your child is being served in.


Helpful Resources, Created by Our Child Life Specialists

childrens childlife specialists


Tips to Help You Prepare Your Child

Going to the hospital can be a stressful time for both you and your child. As parents, you are the experts on your children.

You know them best and will be most effective in preparing your child or adolescent for hospitalization, a procedure, or surgery.

Child Life Specialists are trained in teaching children and adolescents about medical procedures and helping them cope. They are a resource for you and your family.

To learn more about how to mentally prepare children and teenagers for the following procedures, access the resources below.

When a child or teenager is in the hospital, it is also important to encourage them to play and engage in developmentally appropriate activities. Please review the information to the right for ideas on how to help children and teenagers cope with hospitalization.

Twinkle Goes to the Hospital: Coloring pages for your child


Other Helpful Resources


Child Life Conference

The Child Life Specialists at WakeMed offer conferences for child life professionals and students interested in pursuing a career in child life. Any updated conference information will be accessible through this webpage. No current conference information is available.



Pediatric Special Visitors

Please send a message to childlife@wakemed.org for inquiries about arranging a special visit with our pediatric patients. Or Interested in being a Special Visitor? Please fill out our Special Visitor Application Form.