Patient Resources
Preparing for Your Child's Procedure

Tips to Prepare for Your Child's Procedure

Your Child's Procedure

Thank you for choosing Cincinnati Children's for your child's procedure. We perform procedures that require anesthesia at our Burnet Campus and Liberty Campus. For those scheduled at the Burnet Campus, procedures are performed in Same Day Surgery or in the Procedure Center. Your provider will tell you the location, day, and date of your child’s procedure. We understand that this can be a frightening time for you and your child. We look forward to working closely with you to make your visit as safe, convenient and comfortable as possible. We can answer some of the questions you might have about your child’s procedure.

> > Review the Same Day Surgery Prep Book to help your child prepare for the procedure (PDF).

You should:

  • Schedule a physical exam with your child’s primary care physician no more than 30 days before the procedure.
  • Have your child’s primary care physician complete and sign the pre-procedure physical exam form.
  • Receive authorization from your insurance company if required by your insurance provider.
  • Let registration know if you or your child has special communication needs. Call the Burnet Campus Same Day Surgery Registration at 513-636-8897, the Burnet Campus Procedure Center Registration at 513-803-7757, or the Liberty Campus at 513-803-9820.
  • Review our visitor policy and guidelines in your procedure guide or the Caren app for the most up to date information.
    • It is best to only bring the child scheduled for the procedure so that you can:
      • Focus your attention on the child having the procedure
      • Limit exposure to germs
    • If you must bring other children with you to the hospital, see page 15 in the procedure guide for more information.
  • Prepare for coming home:
    • Have clear liquids like water, juices, soft drinks and sports drinks
    • Have light foods like soup crackers, dry cereal and formula
    • Have high protein foods to help them heal
    • Have pain and fever reducing medicine if allowed by your provider (Acetaminophen is available at a reduced rate at our pharmacy)

A hospital nurse will talk to you by phone two business days before the procedure to:

  • Confirm the time and location of the procedure.
  • Review eating and drinking rules- Use the Steps to Procedure Handout in your envelope to write down important times
  • Ask about your child’s health history, current medicines and exposure to other children that have been sick.
  • Address your questions and concerns.
  • Call us as soon as possible for any illness signs even if you have seen or talked about these illness signs with any provider.
  • Call us if your child has any runny nose, cough, wheezing, or breathing problems, fever, rash, diarrhea, or vomiting within two weeks of the procedure date.
  • Call us if your child has bronchitis, pneumonia, croup, flu, or COVID-19 within six weeks of procedure date.
  • To contact us call the Burnet Campus Same Day Surgery at 513-636-2044, the Burnet Campus Procedure Center at 513-517-3018, or the Liberty Campus at 513-803-9820.
  • Burnet Campus — Surgery Center check in at the Welcome Center Location B1, (main concourse). Then go to B3 Registration.
  • Burnet Campus — Procedure Center check in at the Welcome Center Location A1, (main concourse). Then go to A3 Registration.
  • Liberty Campus — Check in at Same Day Surgery registration Location A2.
  • Time of arrival is very important!

  • If you arrive late to the registration desks, your child’s procedure may be cancelled or changed to later in the day.
  • Allow time for traffic and parking. If you are traveling to our Burnet Campus, we suggest arriving at least 15 minutes early.
  • We’ll ask to see:

    • Your insurance or medical card and your child’s social security number
    • Completed pre-procedure physical exam form
    • Proof of guardianship (for court-appointed guardians)
    • A photo ID is required for visitors 16 and older, parents, primary care givers, and adult patients
    • Completed advance directive paperwork (living will or durable power of attorney for healthcare) if you have it
    • A list of medicines your child is taking, including prescription, over-the-counter and herbal medicines
    • Containers for glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, and dental retainers
    • Comfort or distraction items (favorite toy or blanket, tablet with charger, earphones and music, pacifier, and preferred bottle/cup)
    • Loose, comfortable, weather appropriate clothes to wear after the procedure
    • Portable oxygen tank if used anytime, CPAP/Ventilator (bring machine, mask, adapters, circuit, and power cord), and portable suction

    What to Leave at Home

    • Valuables
    • Power strips and surge protectors; these cannot be used in patient areas (charging blocks and cords are ok)

    Patients age 18 or older who have the ability to make an informed decision have the right to make their own medical treatment decisions. You also have the right to draft an advance directive that gives instructions for healthcare in case you are no longer able to participate in treatment decisions. For more information or copies of advance directive forms:

  • Admitting, 513-636-4207
  • Social Services, 513-636-4711
  • Talk to your nurse or provider
  • If you or your provider feels your child is not able to understand the risks and benefits of medical treatment and cannot make informed medical decisions, you must arrange for a legal guardian to be appointed for that purpose. To obtain legal guardianship for an adult child, parents must apply to the probate court in the county where the child lives. For more information, contact a lawyer or the probate court.

    An adult must be with those 18 and over:

  • When they arrive at the hospital
  • Throughout the procedure
  • To receive discharge instructions
  • To drive them home
  • To support them at home for 24 hours
  • If this adult can’t be with them throughout the entire stay, the procedure will be cancelled or delayed. If no adult is with those 18 and over at the time of discharge, they will be admitted.

    For those 18 and over, avoid the use of alcohol, tobacco products, and recreational drugs before and after the procedure. These products can be dangerous.

    If you have a concern about the quality of care or a safety issue, please speak to your child’s nurse or doctor, or to the unit manager. Here are steps you can take if you have a concern or grievance that cannot be immediately addressed by your care team:

    Contact Family Relations to speak to a patient advocate

    Contact the Ohio Department of Health

    Contact The Joint Commission, the organization that accredits hospitals nationwide.

    Medicare beneficiaries have the right to request a review of their grievances by Ohio’s Quality Improvement Organization. Medicare patients may make this request through Family Relations or by calling the Ohio Medicare Beneficiary helpline at 1-855-408-8557 or

    Read more about Your Rights and Responsibilities.

    How do I help my child understand what to expect?

    Children are usually less frightened when they know what to expect. You may want to prepare your child by talking about the hospital. Give honest, age-appropriate information that your child can understand. Depending on your child’s age, it may be helpful to play hospital or doctor, read books about hospitals, or keep a journal or scrapbook.

    Our Child Life specialists can help your child with special needs prepare.

    Preoperative Program (when available)

    The preoperative program is most helpful for children age 3 and older.

    During the preoperative program, you and your child will:

  • Have questions answered
  • Tour the exam / prep area, the operating room, and the Post Anesthesia Care Unit
  • Learn what to expect on the day of the procedure
  • Learn about medical equipment, anesthesia and what it’s like to fall asleep for the procedure
  • For Burnet Campus times and registration, call 513-636-8298

    For Liberty Campus times and registrations call 513-803-9820

    If you are unable to attend the preoperative program, the above video can help provide tips to prepare and a virtual tour. (Disclaimer: the racecar wheelchair is no longer available.)

    Bring familiar objects that will comfort your baby:

  • Favorite blanket, toy or pacifier
  • Familiar bottle or cup for after the procedure. Please be sure it is empty and out of sight until then.
  • Allow choices, such as which stuffed animal to bring or what to wear.
  • To help put your child at ease, allow staff to look at your ears or listen to a stuffed animal's heart before they examine your child.
  • Help our staff explain what they will do before they touch your child.
  • To help comfort your child, let them sit on your lap.
  • Bring familiar objects that will comfort your child.
    • Talk to your child about the hospital.
    • Play is how preschoolers learn. Playing hospital or doctor is very helpful.
    • Be honest. For example, don’t tell your child that nothing will hurt.
    • Give simple explanations of things your child might see. Some suggestions include:
      • Stretcher: “Bed with wheels”
      • Blood pressure cuff: “Arm hug”
      • Anesthesia: “Sleepy air”
      • Induction room: “Sleepy air room”
      • Recovery room: “Wake-up room”
      • IV tube: “Medicine straw”
    • Prepare your child about a week ahead of the visit.
    • Allow your child the opportunity to ask questions and talk about concerns.
    • Be honest. For example, don’t tell your child that nothing will hurt.
    • Prepare your child for things that might be seen after the procedure, such as stitches or bandages, or IV tubes.
    • Give simple explanations of things your child might see. Some suggestions include:
      • Stretcher: “Bed with wheels”
      • Blood pressure cuff: “Arm hug”
      • Anesthesia: “Sleepy air”
      • Induction room: “Sleepy air room”
      • Recovery room: “Wake-up room”
      • IV tube: “Medicine straw”
    • Talk about pain (pain health topic) and ways to be more comfortable
    • Bring objects that will comfort or distract your child
    • Talk about anesthesia (See Talking About Anesthesia section on this page)
    • Teenagers are learning independence and decision-making. At this age they are concerned with body image, privacy, and relationships with friends.
    • Talk about what will be done and why. Encourage your teen to ask questions and participate in decision-making.
    • Talk about pain and ways to be more comfortable.
    • Be honest. For example, don’t say that nothing will hurt or make promises you can’t keep. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say you will find out.
    • Encourage your teen to ask the care team questions.
    • Respect your teen's need for privacy.
    • Talk about what will be done and why. Be honest.
    • Respect those 18 and over’s need for privacy.
    • Support those 18 and over in asking questions and making decisions.
    • Talk about pain and ways to be more comfortable
    • For 24 hours after anesthesia and while they take medicine that contains an opioid:
      • Do not drive, use heavy equipment or machinery.
      • Do not make any important decisions or sign important papers.
      • No strenuous (heavy) activities until their provider says it is okay.
      • Make sure to have an adult family member / adult support person with them.

    Here are some simple ways to explain anesthesia (sleepy medicine) to your child / teen:

    Anesthesia (or sleepy medicine) gives you a special sleep that makes you tired very quickly. This is different than regular sleep. You will not feel, hear or see anything during this special sleep. A special doctor or nurse will give you medicine so you can sleep during the whole procedure. You will never be alone. Doctors and nurses will be with you all the time.

    Ways to Get Anesthesia

    The anesthesia care team will choose the way you get anesthesia. Anesthesia is given in two ways:

    1. You breathe the sleepy medicine (or sleepy air) with a soft, clear mask over your mouth and nose.

    • Your doctor or nurse will offer you sleepy air flavors to choose from.

    2. You get sleepy medicine through a tube called an IV (intravenous).

    • The IV looks like a small, soft plastic straw.
    • The doctor or nurse puts the IV in a vein, usually in the hand or arm. (Veins are the blue lines you see under your skin.)
    • The medicine goes through the IV and into your body.

    Waking After Anesthesia

    • You’ll wake up after the procedure is over.
    • A nurse will be with you when you wake up in the recovery room (or “wake up room”).
    • Your parents or primary caregivers will meet you in the recovery room.

    Here are some simple ways to talk about pain after procedure to your child:

    • You may have some pain in the spot where the procedure occurred. Most pain can be decreased (made less) so that you are comfortable enough to rest.
    • Tell your nurse, anesthesia care team, parent or primary caregiver:
      • If you feel pain.
      • What will help with your pain.
    • Some ways your nurse and anesthesia care team can help decrease (lessen) your pain:
      • Give a pain reliever medicine, either through the IV or with a liquid / pill.
      • Help you find a comfortable position with pillows and blankets.
      • Make use of cool or low heat sources for comfort as allowed by your provider.
      • Talk about ways to cope: “If you do this____, you will get better.”
    • Some ways you can help decrease (lessen) your pain:
      • Bring things that help you feel more comfortable, like a favorite pillow, blanket, DVD or music.
    • To help keep your mind off the pain:
      • Listen to music.
      • Do quiet activities (watch a video, use handheld electronics).
      • Talk about things not related to the hospital.
    • Use relaxation techniques such as deep and steady breathing or meditation

    Guide to Procedure

    Download the guide to surgery to learn more about preparing for surgery at Cincinnati Children's.

    For detailed information, download our booklet, For Patients and Families: A Procedure Guide