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How to Prepare for Surgery

Published on Oct. 12, 2020

Going into surgery can be scary for a child -- and as a parent, it’s likely you’re concerned as well. Consider these ways to help ease both you and your child’s worries:

Encourage Questions

No matter your child’s age, they will look to you for reassurance. It’s important for you, as the adult, to be calm and comfort them prior to their procedure. One way to help yourself be as calm as possible about the surgery is to learn all you can. Ask your Valley Children’s team questions and encourage input from your child.

Use Child-Friendly Language

When talking to your child about their surgery, it’s important to use short, simple, child-friendly language when describing the surgery process or answering questions. (For instance, say “making a small opening” instead of “incision” or “cutting your skin.”)


In addition to talking to your child, there are safety and hygiene steps you can take to prepare them for surgery. These things include:

  • Ensure your child is bathed and washed the night before or the day of surgery
  • Do not shave up to three days before the surgery
  • Remove any nail polish or make-up
  • Do not apply gel, lotion, powder, glitter, perfume or other products
  • Remove all jewelry
  • Do not give your child food or liquid formula after the indicated time (this includes gum, mints, etc.) For mother's breastfeeding, stop feeding your child when indicated.
  • Dress your child in clean and comfortable clothes
  • Please let us know if your child has had a cough, cold, fever, runny nose, vomiting or diarrhea within the last four weeks.


Wondering other ways you can help your child get ready for surgery? You can view our Valley Children's "Preparing Your Child for Surgery Hospital Tour" document here.