At Anne Arundel Medical Center, we make it a priority to create a comfortable, child-friendly environment for our pediatric patients and their families. Preparing yourself as the parent/guardian will be the best thing you can do so that you can have a smooth and less stressful day. Here are some helpful tips on how to prepare:
Discuss procedures with your child to ease concerns or worries. Ask for information from the surgeon to prepare your child for their procedure if it has not already been provided.
Gather information about the specific procedure so that you can explain things to your child.
Schedule a pre-op tour for a guided trip through all the different areas of Surgical Services and Pediatrics that your child will encounter - including a REAL Operating Room!
Make arrangements for your other children on the day of the procedure. Only two adults will be allowed in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) after the procedure, and no other children are allowed for safety reasons.
Our Surgical Prep Team will contact you 1-2 days before the procedure for a pre-procedure interview and instructions. You will also receive a phone call after 2pm the day before the procedure to confirm your time of arrival and location. (Monday procedures receive calls the Friday before).
A parent or legal guardian needs to be immediately available for your child on the day of the procedure. Please plan on being with your child throughout their experience. In the event that you will not be available throughout your child’s day, please inform the nursing staff who is designated to take the child home.
You may stay with your child until the procedure, and rejoin him or her as soon as it is appropriate.
One parent must stay in the facility at all times during the procedure and recovery. When it’s time to go home, we recommend that two adults be available, one to drive and one to care for the child.
What to expect - Your child may be particularly fussy as they are hungry and have not had anything to eat or drink. How to help - Your child is best soothed through sensory stimulation at this age.
Provide a pacifier
Bring a favorite blanket/stuffed animal
Talk in a calming voice
Hold or rock your child
Your nurse/doctor will let you know when your infant will be able to eat after the procedure. Please bring formula/milk with you. Top
Toddlers (1-3 years)
What to expect - Your child may become irritable and uncooperative as he or she will be hungry and not had anything to eat or drink. How to help - While your child may choose to strongly assert their independence at this stage, they still fear separation from their caretakers.
Talk to your child about the procedure one/two days prior
Use simple words to explain what will happen (e.g., “the doctor is going to fix ____ body part”)
Offer realistic choices when possible (e.g., what items to bring from home, which arm to use when getting a blood pressure, and what they want to eat after the procedure)
Bring a favorite item from home (blanket, stuffed animal or toy)
Keep food and drink out of sight. Toddlers can often be distracted with toys and activities as long as they do not see any food or drink.
Be patient. It is common for toddlers to become fussy/clingy surrounding a hospital experience. Providing comfort and support can be the most helpful.
What to expect - In addition to being hungry, your child may become anxious, jumpy or confused. How to help - It is common for children in this age group to have fears and misconceptions related to the hospital experience. They may think they did something wrong to cause the hospital visit.
Talk to your child about the procedure two/three days prior. This will allow for enough time to process the information.
Use simple words that your child is familiar with to explain what body part the doctor will fix
Encourage your child to ask questions and express feelings. Open ended - questions, such as “tell me about the procedure you are going to have,” are a great way to discover and clarify any misconceptions.
Keep food and drink out of sight. Preschoolers can often be distracted with toys and activities as long as they do not see any food or drink.
Allow your child to bring a favorite item from home (blanket, stuffed animal or toy)
Be patient. It is not uncommon for preschoolers to regress surrounding a hospital experience. Wetting the bed or thumb sucking are temporary behaviors that may arise.
What to expect - In addition to being hungry your child may express fear, anxiety and concern of bodily harm. How to help - While your child may have a better understanding of what is happening, he or she may still experience fears and misconceptions of bodily harm.
Talk to your child about the procedure one/two weeks prior
Use language your child is familiar with while being honest and realistic
We highly recommend scheduling a pre-op tour for you and your child. The more prepared you and your child are, the less anxiety you both will have on the day of their procedure.
Ask open-ended questions to address fears and concerns (e.g., “how do you feel about going to the hospital?”) and encourage opportunities for your child to express feelings
Allow your child to pack their bag for the day (including comfort items like a stuffed animal, blanket, music or games)
Focus on the positive (i.e., how much better your child will feel after the procedure)
Anesthesia - Explain that anesthesiologists are doctors who make sure they do not feel anything during their procedure and wake them up when the procedure is done. Learn more about our anesthesiology team.
IVs - If your child is over the age of 8, there is the likelihood of getting a pre-op IV. Special considerations can be discussed, but this is the standard of practice.
Pain - Encourage your child to identify coping techniques used in the past. It may helpful to develop a plan to use while experiencing pain (e.g., deep breathing, squeezing an object/hand, using imagination to “go” somewhere else, listening to music and using TV/video game as distraction).