In this section
Spending family time at
home with your child after they have died can be very precious.
This information is to help you care for your own health and safety
while you have your child with you.
It is helpful to talk with
a funeral director before or soon after taking your child home.
They can inform you about changes that will occur to your child's
body some time after death such as stiffening and discoloration.
How long this takes varies according to when and why your child
died, whether autopsy has been performed and the environmental
conditions. Some people find these changes distressing and a
funeral director may suggest that your child be embalmed. The
embalming process allows your child to be home for a longer period
of time with minimal changes to his/her body.
Changes may also be delayed
by keeping your child cool, for example using ice in an 'Esky' or
bath (which must be cleaned thoroughly afterwards), using a
portable air-conditioner or fan. It is not safe or recommended to
use a home refrigerator.
The risk of transmission of
infection from your child to members of your family is minimal.
However, we do suggest a few basic precautions:
Your child is likely to
have a disposable nappy on. This is because it is not unusual for
bowel and bladder movements to occur after death. There is also
likely to be other dressings on your child to minimise any fluid
It is important that you
take your child to a funeral director or organise your own burial /
cremation as the law requires that your child be buried or
cremated. If you plan to make your own arrangements you will need
to seek advice as the law requires you to fulfil certain
obligations prior to cremation or burial. There are regulations
governing where and how your child is buried or cremated. Contact
your local crematorium or see Information
for medical practitioners & funeral directors: Cemetaries &
for more information.
Developed by the RCH Bereavement
Committee. First published Feb 2007. Not
available through Kids Health Info website.
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.