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Preparing for Your Toddler’s Surgery

What to Expect

  • Your toddler will be hungry on the day of surgery, because he or she is not able to eat anything before surgery.
  • Your toddler may find it difficult to wait before surgery and may become fussy.

Helping Your Toddler

  • Talk to your child about surgery using very simple words. Explain what body part the doctor is going to fix.
  • Wait until a day or two before to talk to your toddler about surgery. Toddlers are not able to understand the concept of time and may begin to worry if told too soon.
  • Bring familiar items from home. Allow your child to help choose what to bring, this will give him a sense of control.
    • Comfort items, such as blankets and stuffed animals, as well as any items you think may be helpful.
    • Favorite toys and activities to keep your child busy while they are waiting for surgery. We have a variety of toddler toys in the pre-op areas that you are more than welcome to use.
  • Keep food and drink out of sight on the day of surgery. Children are not able to eat or drink before surgery. Toddlers can often be distracted from this with toys and activities, as long as they do not see any food or drink.
  • Be patient with your child. It is not uncommon for toddlers to regress and become fussy and clingy surrounding a hospital experience. Try to provide comfort and support to your child, while remaining consistent with your approaches to discipline.

If you have further questions related specifically to your child’s needs, please contact the pre-op Child Life specialist at 410-955-9652.

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