Preparing for Surgery


We understand the anxiety surgery may place on families, particularly when it involves your child. We also realize that you know your child better than anyone and being well prepared for your child's surgery can make all the difference in his or her experience. As you prepare for your stay with us, there are some reminders to make your arrival and your stay as stress-free as possible.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please call us.

Pre-interviewing & Pre-registration

Within a week before surgery, a nursing coordinator will contact you to ask you questions about your child’s health history. The nursing coordinator may ask about:

  • Allergies
  • Current medications
  • Height and weight
  • Previous surgeries
  • Special health needs/concerns
  • Family/social history

The Week Before Surgery

You will want to check with your doctor's office to see how far in advance pre-testing may be done. Although healthy children rarely require pre-op testing, we recommend you have this testing done as soon as possible.

The Day Before & Day of Surgery

Make arrangements for siblings to stay with family or friends. Try to maintain their normal routine as much as possible.

  • Bathe/shower your child the night before the operation.
  • On the day of surgery, dress your child in comfortable clothes that are easy to remove and put on again. (Make it a pajama day!)
  • Bring a favorite toy or blanket for your child to take to surgery.
  • Put a pillow or a blanket in the car for the ride home.
  • If your child uses a special bottle or cup or if your child uses special formula, bring it with you.
  • If your child develops cold of flu symptoms and/or has been exposed to chicken pox/measles, please call your doctor’s office before the day of surgery, as your child may have to be rescheduled.
  • Leave jewelry and other valuables at home. Please remove any body piercings.
  • Bring any important insurance information with you and/or legal guardianship papers.
  • Please remember it is important to take care of yourself as well. Make sure you eat or drink something during your child’s surgery and not in front of your child.
  • There are several books for children about hospitalization. Our Child Life  specialists can provide you with a list of these books at your request.
  • Our child life specialists are here to assist parents and their children to cope with the stress of surgery and hospitalization.
  • If your child wears contact lenses, bring case and solution. The lenses must be removed before surgery.
  • If your child wears glasses, please bring the case with you.

Helpful Hints for your Child 

There are many ways you can help in the process of preparing a child for upcoming surgery. Depending on the child's age, maturity, and development, some activities may need to be modified in order to be more effective. The following may help you with this process.

  • Provide simple explanations of what surgery will correct.
  • Explain where on the body the operation will take place.
  • Answer your child's questions honestly and age appropriately.
  • Encourage your child to bring his/her favorite object (stuffed animal, blanket, etc..).
  • Explain to your child that he/she will be asleep during surgery because of a special sleep medicine.
  • Let, your child know it's okay to talk about his/her feelings.  "It's okay to be scared."
  • Read books to your child about hospitalization.
  • Give your child a role:  "Your job is to eat popsicles after your surgery."
  • Give your child something to look forward to after his/her surgical experience, such as playing a favorite game together or watching a movie.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions and express his/her feelings to medical staff.

Avoid Doing the Following:

  • Do not make promises you may not be able to keep. Children depend on your words.
  • Do not bribe your child.  Your love and support are especially important
  • Avoid saying: "Put you to sleep" (like the pet was put to sleep).
  • Suggestion: "The sleep doctor will give you a special sleep medicine that will help you go into a deep sleep."
  • Avoid saying: "Cut, slice, and make a hole."
  • Suggestion: "The doctor will make a small opening (as small as...)."
  • Avoid saying: "Gas" (like gasoline?).
  • Suggestion: "A special medicine that will help you sleep."