How to Prepare for My Child's Surgery

We want each patient to be prepared for their surgery. It's important to follow pre-surgery instructions so your child or teen can be as safe as possible during their procedure.

Updated 8/30/23

Some facilities can’t guarantee a pediatric anesthesiologist for your child—we do.

While some hospitals may not be staffed to meet this need, at Children’s, every baby, child and teen receives care from a pediatric anesthesiologist who understands best practices for growing bodies.

Learn more

Before your child’s surgery, you will be given instructions on what time they should stop eating and drinking. The amount of time your child needs to stop eating and drinking before surgery depends on their age.

What to drink before surgery

Encourage your child to drink clear fluids up until 2 hours prior to scheduled surgery time.

Clear fluids include:

  • Water
  • Apple juice
  • Clear soda (Sprite)
  • Electrolyte drinks (such as Pedialyte, Gatorade, Powerade)

DO NOT let your child drink:

  • Broths or drinks with pulp

Two Hours Before Surgery Do Not Allow Anything by Mouth

DO NOT give your child:

  • Anything by mouth after the time you were given to stop eating and drinking.
  • Gum, hard candy, ice or a sip of clear fluids like water or apple juice.

It is important to follow these rules. If you do not, it could put your child’s health at risk. There can be life-threatening safety risks if your child has anesthesia with food or drink in their stomach.

Your child’s surgery will be moved to another day if you do not follow these rules.

Get your child’s comfort items ready

Wash any comfort items, such as a blanket or stuffed toy, that may be coming along with your child to the hospital.

Give them a bath or shower the night before

  • Bathe your child with soap and water.
  • Wash your child’s hair with shampoo.

After the Bath

  • Do not use baby oil, moisturizers or lotions.
  • Dress your child in clean clothes. This helps lower the risk of your child getting an infection during the surgery or procedure.

Be sure to:

  • Remove all jewelry and nail polish.
  • Remove contacts before arrival or bring your child’s contact case.

Talking to My Child About Surgery

Our team understands that kids and teens might be nervous about their procedure. Here’s some tips for parents on comforting and calming kids’ fears before surgery.

Get Tips


  • Your child’s legal guardian must come and stay with your child in order to speak with the doctor and to sign papers that will allow us to do the surgery. Surgery cannot be performed if these are not signed.
  • Make sure you arrive on time to your surgery center.
  • Patients having surgery at Egleston or Scottish Rite hospitals will be taken into the operating room by a nurse. Parents and guardians are NOT allowed to walk their child to the operating room at our hospital locations.

What should I bring the day of surgery?

Before walking out the door to go to the hospital or surgery center, check to make sure you have:

  • A list of questions for the doctor or nurse
  • Any paperwork your child’s doctor has given you
  • Your current insurance card
  • Your photo I.D.
  • A list of medicines your child takes, including over-the-counter medicine, supplements (vitamins) and herbal medicines your child is currently taking.
  • Your child’s glasses (if needed). Contact lenses should be removed before arrival or bring a contact lens case for storage during surgery.
  • Your child’s clean comfort item: favorite blanket, stuffed animal, doll or book
  • A bottle or sippy cup (if your child uses one)
  • An extra pair of clothes for you and your child
    • If your child is having an orthopedic surgery on the upper (arm, wrist or shoulder) or lower (hips, leg, knee or foot) parts of their body, there may be specific types of clothing that need to be brought to wear after surgery. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions on what to wear after surgery.
  • Your child’s home ventilator, BiPAP machine or oxygen, if they use these items
  • Attachments for your child’s feeding tube, if they use one

If your child is sick the day prior or day of surgery, contact your child’s doctor as soon as possible for instructions.

We have four locations conveniently located around Atlanta. Click for directions to find your nearest location.

Our safety measures help us provide safe, specialized care.

Visitor Safety Measures

To help keep our patients, visitors and staff safe we are:

  • Allowing only two adult caregivers with each patient. No other family or visitors are allowed
  • Masking Policy (Updated March 21, 2024)
    • Voluntary masking is encouraged.
    • Masks are required for:
      • Patients and families in Urgent Care and Emergency Department waiting rooms who are showing signs of illness. 
      • Patients, guardians and visitors who are at high risk for infections. *
      • Clinical team members and employees during direct patient care if the patient has a condition that requires masking, is in isolation or is showing signs of illness.

    *If you are unsure if your child is at high-risk for infections, please ask their care team.

    Please ensure that a well caregiver is bringing the child in for services. If not possible, please notify the clinical team before your arrival for options.

    Family members, visitors of patients and caregivers with potentially contagious illnesses should not visit Children’s facilities. If there is an issue, please notify the clinical team immediately.

    Patients, employees and visitors are strongly encouraged to practice diligent hand hygiene to help prevent the spread of germs.

We are here to help

It is OK if you have questions or do not understand something about your child’s surgery. We are here to help you. Do not be afraid to ask questions or talk to us.

Where You Take Your Child for Surgery Matters

When you walk through our doors, you can take comfort knowing our entire staff, from pre-surgery nurses and technicians to pediatric anesthesiologists and surgeons, has been specially trained to care for your child. Our team understands how to keep kids and teens safe during surgery.