When Should My Child Stop Eating and Drinking Before Surgery/Procedure?

NPO guidelines (Nothing by mouth)

NPO means your child should not eat or swallow anything within specific guidelines.

Type of food and drink Child can have until:
Solid Food 8 hours before surgery/procedure
Gum, Candy, Mints 6 hours before surgery/procedure
Non-Clear Liquids
  • Non-clear juices such as orange or carrot
  • Broth, Jell-O
  • Cow’s milk or formula
6 hours before surgery/procedure
Breast Milk 4 hours before surgery/procedure
Clear Liquids
  • Examples: water, Pedialyte, clear apple juice, sports drink, soda
  • If you can see through it, it is clear
  • If in doubt, don’t give it to your child
2 hours before surgery/procedure
  • Take with a sip of clear liquid
  • If your child needs to take medication with food call 720-777-5337 for instructions
2 hours before surgery/procedure

Your surgeon may change these times depending on the type of surgery/procedure your child is having.

Download NPO Guidelines in Spanish

If your child eats or drinks too close to the time of the surgery/procedure, you will have to reschedule the procedure. Follow these eating and drinking guidelines before surgery/procedure to make sure your child’s stomach is empty. If you don’t, there may still be food or drink in your child’s stomach at the time of anesthesia. The stomach contents can come up and go into the lungs during anesthesia and may cause serious problems.

If you have any questions or need more information about NPO guidelines, call the Department of Anesthesiology at 720-777-6226.