How to Prepare Your Child for Anesthesia

Undergoing procedures that require anesthesia can be scary for people, especially children. As a parent, it’s important to prepare your children for anesthesia and any postoperative complications. Keep reading for ways to prepare your child for procedures that require anesthesia.

The basics

The guidelines for adult procedures are extremely similar to the guidelines for children’s procedures. Basic guidelines include:

  • No solid foods with high levels of fat such as fried foods, meat, dairy, candy, etc. beginning eight hours before the procedure. 
  • No solid foods whatsoever beginning six hours before the procedure. (Clear liquids are allowed up until 2 hours prior)

Ask your doctor about fasting guidelines prior to the procedure. All children are different and may require additional restrictions.

Talk it out

Start by talking with your child about their upcoming procedure and prepare them for possible effects. While every person is different, many people experience some of the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Delirium

It is also helpful to tell your child that the feelings of anesthesia are temporary and wear off shortly after. Some children may wake up frightened or ill, so it is important to comfort them and give them your undivided attention post-op. 

Have some fun

To ease the stress or anxiety centered around your child’s procedure, plan to bring some fun, easy games to play in the waiting room as well as the post-op room. Studies have shown that video games on handheld devices actually help patients to breathe more fluently and effectively prior to anesthesia. Other activities to try are:

  • Coloring books
  • Tic Tac Toe games
  • Stress relief balls
  • Fidget toys

If your child comes back to a room with their favorite games, toys or stuffed animals, they are likely to feel more comfortable after their procedure. Familiarity can help your child relax and unwind while “coming out” of anesthesia. 

These are just a few ways to prepare your child for anesthesia. Learn more about preparation on our website or by talking with your doctor.