What to pack in your child’s ‘chemo bag’

Bringing a bag filled with practical and comforting items from home can help reduce stress for the child and parent during chemotherapy.

When a child is diagnosed with cancer and has to start chemotherapy, it can be overwhelming for the entire family. Preparing, however, and arriving at the Norton Children’s Infusion Center with a “chemo bag” — filled with practical and comforting items from home — can help reduce stress for both the child and parent.

“Our providers do everything they can to help families during their stay, but a prepacked ‘chemo bag’ can help everyone be as comfortable as possible during a child’s treatment,” said Ashok B. Raj, M.D., pediatric hematologist/oncologist with Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine.

The below packing list includes suggested items that may be used in outpatient settings, so make adjustments based on the length of your child’s stay and use what works best for your family.

Norton Children’s Cancer Institute

Our team provides individualized care and support throughout a child’s cancer journey, from diagnosis to treatments and beyond. Talk to a member of our team at

(502) 629-7725.

Kids’ chemo bag


  • Loose-fitting outfits
    • V-necks or button-down shirts may be easier for port access, if applicable.
  • Comfy pajamas
    • Slippers with grips on the bottom can keep feet warm.
  • Extra underwear
    • Plastic bags to transport soiled clothing may be a good idea, along with an extra change of clothes.
  • Socks
  • Sweatshirt
  • Coat/jacket, depending on weather
  • Hat or bandanna, to keep your child’s head warm if they are experiencing hair loss


  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Diaper rash cream, for side effects like rashes or diarrhea
  • Lip balm (ChapStick, for example)
  • Mild soaps, shampoo, lotion
    • Avoid heavily-fragranced items, as your child may be extra sensitive to smells.

Comfort items

  • Stuffed animals of choice
  • Pillow and blanket


  • Favorite games, crafts, activities
    • Coloring book, crayons, markers, watercolors, paper/notebook, cards, puzzles, games of choice
  • Tablet, portable DVD player or handheld gaming console, plus chargers


  • Snacks
    • Healthy snacks and fun snacks
  • Favorite meals
    • Your child’s sense of taste may be affected during treatments. Once you figure out what they still enjoy eating, pack it and store it in the room’s refrigerator.
  • Plastic or reusable utensils
    • Chemotherapy may cause your child to experience a metallic taste, so plastic utensils may be more enjoyable than metal ones.


  • Water bottle
  • Extra sick bags (for nausea)
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer

Parents’ chemo bag


  • Comfy outfits
  • Comfy shoes
  • Sweatshirt
  • Pajamas


  • Hair and body wash
    • Make sure your soaps aren’t heavily fragranced, either.
  • Hairbrush/hair dryer
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Towel, if you prefer to use your own

Comfort items

  • Regular blanket and pillow
  • Throw blanket


  • Headphones/earbuds
    • You can still be entertained while your little one gets much needed rest.
  • Book/magazines
  • Phone charger/charging cord

Important items

  • Medications
    • Your child’s provider will want to review their medications; don’t forget to pack your own, if applicable.
  • Your cancer notebook or binder
    • Having your notes and documents on hand can help you review questions with your treatment team.


  • Water bottle
  • Pictures or décor
    • If you have a longer stay, this can brighten up the room and make your child feel more at home.