Preparing Your Child for Surgery

Dealing with the surgery of someone you love makes most people feel stressed and worried, regardless of the type of surgery or it severity. This is a normal and human reaction.  When your child is an infant, the decision to proceed with surgery is yours, and the stress is yours as well.

For newborns with cleft lip and/or palate, the first surgery might occur at three or four months of age. If your baby is about to have his or her first surgery, it is important to understand that feeling anxious, tense, and protective is OK. The good news is that babies generally tolerate surgery very well, and have few long-term reactions to the experience.

If your child is at pre-school age or older it is important to prepare your child for the experience. You know your child better than anyone when it comes to his or her dealings with new and different experiences.

For young children, it is best to be simple and focus on these things that they will experience directly (for example, being given medicine so they don’t feel anything during the surgery, the IV after they wake up).

Because preschoolers do not have a good sense of time, most young children can be told about the surgery the day before they go to the hospital to avoid too much build up.

For children of all ages, simple library books about going to the hospital can be helpful. There are also videos and pamphlets for parents that can be helpful. Be sure to talk with your healthcare professionals about the types of preparation that they provide through their hospital.

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