Activities for children who are bedridden

For some children and their families, a hospital stay can mean days, weeks and even months away from the life they’ve known. Hospitals are increasingly trying to cater to the needs of their young patients, creating dedicated play spaces such as Starlight Express Rooms. But what if your child is bedridden?

Below is a list of activities you can do with your child or set up for them to continue on their own. Many of these can be done with family and friends and will give the child and their visitors something to do to take the focus away from illness and treatment.


An obvious activity but tried and true, especially if you take the time to consider the child and their interests. Books can provide an escape to fantasy land and away from pressing problems. More than this they can provide an opportunity for closeness and fun. Get the child to read too and ham it up yourself with characterisation and voices.  For further inspirations and recommendations, check out our list of books to read aloud to children of all ages.

Audio books

Audio books are another great way to introduce children to new books and literary adventures. Your hospital may have some of these but you can also get them free from your local library either in hard copy or via download through services such as Overdrive. For hours of distraction look for books in series such as Deltora Quest for young ones or Harry Potter and The Hunger Games going up in age.


 Puzzles can take many forms and some will be more appealing to your child than others. If you have access to a large steady board, jigsaw puzzles are great things for children to do alone or with friends and family when they come to visit. Puzzle games such as crosswords or Sudoku but be sure to pitch the puzzle at the right level


 Writing can be a great way for children to express thoughts, feelings and frustrations. But it can also be a way for them to use their imaginations and create stories of their own.  Some of the world’s best writers were bedridden as children. Stuck in bed they had to make their own entertainment and this often came through their own imaginations. Allow your child to explore their thoughts and creativity by journal writing or story telling. Provide them with a journal, paper or electronic, and ensure that it is easily accessible, for when inspiration strikes.

Board games

Board games are a great distractor and lots of fun besides. Great time wasters include Monopoly, Scrabble and Snake and Ladders or for shorter sessions try Bananagrams, Cleudo or Checkers. For older children, strategy games  such as Risk and Carcassonne are a lot of fun and can easily eat in to the afternoon. Just make sure that you’ve got a big table for all the pieces.

Card games

Card games can take some time to learn but are a great distraction, as they require concentration. Go Fish, Snap and Memory are suited to younger children while older children might enjoy Rumy, or learning to play Blackjack or even Bridge. Solitaire is a particularly addictive card game and useful for when children are on their own.

Other games

Interactive games like Charades and I Spy are  great when people come to visit and can even be played during some treatments and observations as a means of distracting  a small child. Role playing with soft toys encourages imagination and story telling and can also be an outlet for your child to express her feelings through fictional characters.

Arts and Drawing

Drawing, doodling, beading or colouring-in, are all activities that can be done in bed. If your child enjoys arts and crafts, a long stint in bed is a great opportunity to nurture their creative talents. Use the time to teach your child to knit, sew or cross-stitch, or find a friend or family member who can. Your child might enjoy sticker books, collage or even scrap booking. These activities will fill in the hours and give the child something to show their family and friends.

Digital Entertainment and eLearning

The number of distractions available on digital devices is endless. From movies and music, to games and social media, your child could get lost for hours. And maybe that’s what they need, at least for a time. Many parents relax the rules around screen time when their children are stuck in bed for long periods. Others use the opportunity and the devices themselves to encourage their children to learn new skills. Perhaps your child is interested in coding , blogging or improving their maths. These sites are all free and there are many more besides.