Preparing Your Toddler for Surgery

If your toddler's having surgery, you'll be better able to prepare him if you know what he's worried about and how you can help.

What is your child concerned about?

  • He's worried about being away from you
  • He may think that going to the hospital is a punishment for something he did wrong
  • He may be frightened of medical equipment

How can you help prepare your child?

  • Don't give him too much time to think. Toddlers don't understand the concept of time, so tell your child about the surgery only one or two days ahead of time.
  • Give him a sense of control. Allow him to choose a stuffed animal, blanket or favorite toy to bring to the hospital.
  • Be as calm and patient as possible. It's normal for toddlers to be fussy and "act out" before and after the procedure.
  • Remember, the best medicine is you. Your touch and voice will comfort your toddler more than anything else. Reassure your child that his surgery isn't a punishment and that you'll be there with him as much as possible. You may find reading him a book about surgery — one that's aimed at his age group — calming for both of you.

Next Steps