Child Life Specialists

Help your child feel relaxed and comfortable during medical situations with the support of the knowledgeable, compassionate child life specialists at Essentia Health. You can count on our child life specialists to provide guidance and help your family build coping skills during doctor visits, treatments, and procedures.

This service is available in Duluth, Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota.

What is a Child Life Specialist?

Child life specialists are professionals trained in child development and psychology. They're certified by the Association of Child Life Professionals to provide support to infants, children, youth and families in a medical setting. By using age appropriate strategies, they work to reduce a child's fear, anxiety, and pain. They help families cope with illness, injury, or bereavement.

They help ease stress and anxiety for young patients and their families by providing:

  • Emotional support
  • Education about diagnoses
  • Preparation and distraction during procedures
  • Medical play to help children understand their medical experience
  • Celebration of special events in the hospital
  • Sibling support
  • End-of-life support for patients and families
  • Memory making to honor a child’s medical journey
  • Alternative pain management during procedures
  • Play that helps build coping skills and supports child development
  • Pre-op tours to familiarize a child with the medical environment
  • Ways to reduce sedation, so patients can complete scans without anesthesia
  • Education on comfort positioning during IV placement, immunizations, stitches, etc.
  • Help for children, youth, and families to understand and cope with the medical environment

Comfort Positions

Ask a child life specialist to teach you comfort positions—specific ways to hold your child so they feel secure while they receive medical care, such as a shot, lab draw, or stitches. Comfort positions:

  • Allow you to take an active role in your child’s health care
  • Help your child feel empowered to make choices in a situation they may find stressful
  • Can prevent the need for your child to be restrained

Donate Toys to Children in the Hospital

Help provide fun and stress relief to children in the hospital at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota, and at Essentia Health-Fargo, in North Dakota.

Your donations of new toys, books, stuffed animals, art supplies, and more bring joy to our youngest patients.

Wish Lists 

Learn More

For more information about Certified Child Life Specialists visit