The day of surgery for your child

Alternate Names

Same day surgery - child; Surgical procedure - child


Learn about what to expect on the day of surgery. You will feel better if you are prepared. 

The doctor’s office will let you know what time you should arrive on the day of surgery. Expect that the time may be early in the morning. 

  • If your child is having minor surgery, your child will go home afterward on the same day.
  • If your child is having major surgery, your child will stay in the hospital after the surgery. Talk to your child’s doctor to know what to expect.

What to Expect Before Surgery

The anesthesia and surgery team will talk with you and your child before surgery. You may meet with them at an appointment before the actual day of surgery or on the same day of surgery. To make sure your child is healthy and ready for surgery, they will:

  • Check your child’s height, weight, and vital signs 
  • Ask about your child’s health. If your child is sick, the doctors may wait to do the surgery until your child is better.
  • Do a physical exam on your child 

To get your child ready for surgery, the surgical team will: 

  • Confirm the location and type of your child’s surgery. The doctor may mark the site with a special marker. 
  • Talk to you about the anesthesia they will give your child
  • Get any needed lab tests for your child. Your child may have blood drawn or may be asked to give a urine sample. 
  • Answer any of your questions. Bring paper and pen to write down notes. Ask about your child’s surgery, recovery, and pain management. 

You will sign admission papers and consent forms for your child’s surgery and anesthesia. Bring these items with you:

  • Insurance card
  • Identification card
  • Any medicine in the original bottles
  • X-rays and test results

What to Expect on the Day of Surgery

Be prepared for the day.

  • Help your child feel safe and secure. Bring a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or blanket. Label items from home with your child’s name. Leave anything valuable at home.
  • The day of surgery will be busy for your child and you. Expect that your child’s surgery and recovery will take all day.
  • Please do not make other plans for the day of surgery.
  • Please have child care for your other children on that day. 

Arrive on time to the surgery unit. 

Get your child ready for surgery.

  • Your child may get some liquid medicine that helps your child relax and feel sleepy. 
  • You will wait with your child in a waiting room until the surgeon is ready for your child. 
  • The doctors and nurses want to make sure that your child is safe at all times. They will do safety checks. Expect them to ask you: your child’s name, birthday, the surgery your child is having, and the body part that is being operated on. 

Please do not bring food or drink into the pre-op area. Children having surgery are not eating or drinking. It is better for them not to see food or drinks.

What to Expect Going into Surgery

Give your child a hug and kiss. Remind your child that you will be there as soon as you can when they wake up. 

If you are staying with your child during the start of anesthesia, you will: 

  • Put on special operating room clothing
  • Go with the nurse and your child into the operating room
  • Go to the waiting area after your child is asleep

What to Expect During Surgery

In the OR (operating room), your child will breathe in sleeping medicine. 

Usually, after your child is asleep, the doctor will put in an IV. Sometimes the IV has to be put in before your child is asleep. 

You can wait in the waiting area. If you need to leave, give your cell phone number to the staff so they know how to reach you.

What to Expect After Surgery in the Recovery Room

Waking up from anesthesia:

  • After surgery, your child goes to the recovery room. The doctors and nurses will closely watch your child in the recovery room. As the anesthesia wears off, your child will wake up.
  • You may be allowed to go in the recovery room when your child starts to wake up. If this is allowed, the nurse will come get you.
  • Know that children waking up from anesthesia can cry a lot and be confused. This is very common.
  • If you would like to hold your child, ask the nurses to help you do this. You will need help with any equipment and how to hold them comfortably. 

Moving out of the recovery room:

  • If your child is going home today, you will help them get dressed. Once your child can drink liquids, you can probably go home. Expect your child to be more tired. Your child may sleep a lot throughout the rest of the day.
  • If your child is going to stay at the hospital, your child will be moved to a hospital room. The nurse there will check your child’s vital signs and pain level. If your child is having pain, the nurse will give your child pain medicine and any other medicine your child needs. The nurse will also encourage your child to drink if your child is allowed to have liquids.


Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 7/25/2012
  • Joshua Kunin, MD, Consulting Colorectal Surgeon, Zichron Yaakov, Israel. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.