Helping Your Toddler Cope With Pain After Surgery

Once you learn to recognize pain symptoms in your toddler, you can calm her and help her cope.

How to know if your toddler is in pain

If your toddler's in pain, he may show it by:

  • Not playing as much
  • Not eating or drinking as much as usual
  • Having difficulty sleeping or napping
  • Crying more than usual
  • Wanting to be still or quiet
  • Being irritable and restless
  • Using words such as "ouchie," "boo-boo," or "it hurts"

How you can help your toddler cope

  • Remember that you're a part of the team. Talk to your child's healthcare team so that you better understand pain and its treatment. Tell them what comforts your child, ask for advice if you need it, and ask questions such as:
    • What kind of pain can I expect my child to have, and for how long?
    • What do I need to know about the pain medications you're giving her?
  • Create a comfortable and safe environment by:
    • Staying with your child as much as possible.
    • Dimming the lights.
    • Providing quiet time and times of undisturbed sleep.
    • Playing soft music.
    • Speaking softly.
    • Bringing her favorite toys and objects from home.
  • Use your touch:
    • Use gentle and firm touch to give her comfort and security. Try touching or gently massaging your child's skin, or massaging her back in a firm, slow motion.
    • Hold, cuddle and rock her.
    • Hold her hand.
  • Distract him. Help your toddler focus on something other than the pain by:
    • Telling or reading her stories. Look at a pop-up or sound book.
    • Blowing bubbles.
    • Having her hold a special blanket or stuffed animal.
    • Playing music.
    • Singing songs with her.
    • Having her play with a toy.
    • Watching television or movies together.

Next Steps