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Weeks before surgery


  • Learn as much as you can about the surgery so you are prepared and relaxed. Babies can sense your anxiety.

  • Pick your baby's favorite thing to bring to surgery (blanket, pacifier or toy).

Ages 1-3:

  • Begin to talk to your child about surgery 1-3 days beforehand. Use simple terms.

  • Pick a comfort item from home to bring (blanket, stuffed animal, etc....)

Ages 4-6:

  • Begin to talk about surgery 3-5 days beforehand. Your child might ask questions about what to expect. Be honest.

  • Pre-school aged children often need reassurance as they sometimes think surgery is a punishment

  • Use simple, child-friendly explanations of how their body will be fixed.

  • Playing doctor and reading books about going to the hospital is a great way to get your child to understand.

Ages 7-12:

  • Begin talking about surgery at least a week ahead of time.

  • Talk openly and honestly about the surgery using simple, easy to understand words (for example: "IV catheter" is a small straw to give your body a drink of water: "anesthesia" is a medicine to help you fall asleep so that you do not feel anything during surgery).

  • Prepare your child for things he/she might see or feel (stitches or bandages).

Ages 13 and older:

  • Begin to talk about the surgery a few weeks ahead of time.

  • Explain why he/she needs the surgery and encourage questions. Most teens like to have some control of their situation. Let your child take part in the decision making.

  • Teens may be worried about how they will look like after surgery. Talk to your child about the appearance of the wounds. Ask us for help.

  • Your child may be worried about waking up during surgery or not waking up at all. Reassure your child that anesthesia is a very safe thing and that he/she will be fully asleep during the surgery.

  • Respect your teen's need for privacy.

Important safety information for teenage patients:

  • It is unsafe to mix alcohol, smoking and/or recreational drugs with anesthesia. Although this is rare, if this is the case, your anesthesiologist needs to be aware of your child using any of these substances.

  • Patients should not drive for 24 hours after anesthesia or during the time they are taking any prescription narcotics.

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