Any mother knows that the most stressful time of a doctor’s appointment can be the wait beforehand. I’m sure that many doctor’s office employee can also attest to the amount of meltdowns that occur in the waiting room. Because let’s face it, children are not the most patient individuals. Therefore, it is essential that every pediatric waiting room have activities and toys that will keep children entertained and make the wait bearable for everyone else involved.
Since there will be children of all ages playing with them, any toys used in a doctor’s office, should not have any loose parts that could be swallowed. Activity tables are a great idea since multiple children can play with them at the same time and everything is attached to the table. For example, there are magnetic tables that contain shapes or small animal figures, with metal shavings inside, securely enclosed under non-breakable transparent table top. Magnet wands, attached to the table are used to move these objects around to make shapes, go through mazes, and play other games. Since there are several magnets attached, several kids can play with that play table at once.
There are many great activity panels that can be mounted on the wall. These might contain mirrors, learning games with numbers or letters, or mazes where a ball is inset into the wood and it can be rolled around in a track. The most known and common waiting room toy is probably the Large Bead Maze Rollercoaster. This can be placed on a table or on the floor and can engage several children for quite a length of time. Wooden colorful beads slide on coated wires and help children practice fine motor skills, entertaining them at the same time.
Some of the more sophisticated activity cubes and activity centers contain several toys or games like rollercoaster, pathfinder, tic-tac-toe game or other activities at the same time. Often 4 or 5 children can play on these wonderful play cubes at once. Since everything is attached, no worries about objects getting placed in the child’s mouth. This is especially important since many of the children in a pediatric clinic waiting room are sick. You don’t have to be concerned that germs are being passed from mouth to mouth! With no loose pieces, it is very simple to spray these games and toys down with a disinfecting spray once or twice a day.
A really fun play area toy, for boys especially, is the Fire Engine Activity Center. This is a large wooden fire engine that a child can actually sit in and pretend to drive. Where the ‘hood’ of the engine would be is actually an activity table with vehicles set into a wooden tracks. Several children can run the cars and trucks around on the ‘roads’ without them coming out of their tracks and getting lost or accidentally taken home.
Since all the waiting room toys and toys for doctor’s office listed above are self-contained and compact, they very easily fit into even the smallest of waiting rooms without taking up undue space. The wood is solid and the toys are durable and well-made so as not to be easily broken.
If a child is happy during his time in the waiting room, then he is bound to be in a better mood for his actual appointment. This makes the doctor’s, nurse’s, and parent’s job so much easier!