Stave off exam room anxiety by coloring on the exam table paper

Amazon: Melissa & Doug Jumbo Triangular CrayonsJaclyn's discovered a great way to keep her daughter entertained during those waits in the pediatrician's exam room:

During my daughter's 2 year-old check-up, we were waiting in the exam room and I was desperately trying to keep her entertained. I dug through her diaper bag and found a Ziploc baggie full of crayons, but was disappointed to find that, somewhere along the line, we'd lost the coloring book that I usually keep in there. However, the paper-covered examination table made a perfect palette for our doodles and my daughter thought it was very funny to color on the doctor's table. Voila…one happy toddler and an unusually easy wait in the doctor's office!

Related: Plan for common mishaps with the help of your pediatrician


  1. elsimom says

    I jot all the questions I think of for the doctor on that paper. For example, if they’ve gone to do a blood test (or are waiting for a flu swab or whatever) I jot down the questions I will have when they come back with the results, so I don’t forget to ask. Things like: anticipated duration, medicine dosing, safe return to day care, whatever.

  2. says

    Oh man, great idea. My mom was always really clever like this, she carried around pads of paper and would ask me to draw things I’d like to do after the check up. It always seemed to occupy my mind somehow, but this was a great idea in a tough situation.

  3. Kirsten says

    LOVE this idea…and I use it often! As an extension….we draw “roads” and my boys “drive” their matchbox cars all over the paper….add in some trees and buildings and have some FUN!

  4. Neil says

    I’m sure this works great, but you have to ask yourself why it’s warranted. I mean, shouldn’t it say “Stave off exam room anxiety by finding a better pediatrician?” My kids are never anxious at the doctor’s office, and I think it’s because they’re comfortable with their doctor and the environment. It helps that I don’t show any signs of anxiety, either.

    Am I just being naive?

  5. Tiffany says

    Well, my kids aren’t anxious, but they do certainly get bored while we wait…and we always have a wait at the Dr. I’ll keep this in mind for the next time. I like restaurants that have paper table cloths for this same reason. Gives them something to do!

  6. says

    I’ve traced their body on the paper, then let them color in the body parts. If particularly bored, you could play doctor with the paper doll after coloring it.

  7. rebel says

    I love that idea, Jill!

    I’m a doctor and I often have kids draw/write on that paper when I’m checking out their fine motor skills.
    Or when I need to talk to the parent for a while, or examine the sibling.

    Sometimes kids are anxious about immunizations even if they have no anxiety about the doctor, Nell.

  8. Natalie says

    We always did this when we were children. I don’t think my mom brought crayons with her, but she always had a pen in her checkbook, so we’d doodle with that.

    I still draw on the exam table paper when I’m waiting to see my doctor – if I have forgotten to bring my knitting!

  9. Parent Hacks Editor says

    Neil: We love our doctor, but we still get an attack of the nerves. When my kids were younger, it was mostly about boredom, but after a few immunizations, the anxiety set in.

  10. says

    Great idea! Our boys aren’t afraid or anxious about seeing the doctor. (in fact my 3yr old asks if the doctors are up and if he can go see them when we drive by the hospital!)

    They do tend to get what I call antsy though, so that would work out great ^-^

  11. Jenny says

    The paper-covered table is great with babies too – the thin paper makes that super crinkly noise that babies love. My daughter loved to sit on it and wrinkle and scratch and tear the paper – it was destroyed when the dr. arrived for her 9 month checkup, but she had a blast!

  12. Annette says

    I think the anxiety Jaclyn’s referring to is on the part of the parents, not the children! As in, “I hope the doctor gets in here before my child starts climbing the walls and swinging from the light fixture.”

  13. Lemon says

    We use stickers on that paper, mostly Thomas & Friends b/c that’s what my little guys have been obsessed with since I can remember. I give the stickers to the nurse or admin person, they put the stickers all over the paper before we even get into the room, and that way it’s a happy surprise to discover them already there, with some leftover for them to stick on themselves.

    We love our pedi, but babies and toddlers get so many shots and blood tests – it seems every appt from birth to 3 has some kind of needle prick involved, and my kids have remarkably long memories. The ear exam is uncomfortable for one of my sons – he screams every time. My other son will happily turn his head so the doctor can look in the other ear – he loves having his ears checked. Go figure.

  14. Wilcot says

    And if you don’t have a crayon or pen, you can just rip out a paperdoll; I’ve done that!

  15. says

    We do this in restaurants, actually – it started one day when my wife drew a flower in black and started filling in the petals in random colors. I then drew some crazy random scribble, also in black, and they filled in all the spaces in different colors.