Children's Hospital Colorado
Center for Children's Surgery
Center for Children's Surgery

After Your Child's Procedure at Children's Hospital Colorado

After the surgery or procedure

  • When your child starts to wake up, the nurse will bring you to the bed so you can sit with your child.
  • Children waking up from anesthesia may cry and seem confused. This is common.
  • It is also normal for your child to be wearing a mask and breathing with some extra oxygen.
  • Depending on your child's procedure, you will either:
    • Help your child get dressed to go home.
    • Go with the child to their hospital room.
  • If your child is in pain after the surgery or procedure:
    • Ask for pain medication when the pain starts.
    • Tell your doctor or nurse if you are worried about your child taking pain medication.
    • Tell your doctor and nurse how your child reacts to pain.
    • Tell your doctor or nurse if the pain does not go away.
  • Schedule any follow-up appointments before you leave (if you haven't already).
  • Please read and follow physician's discharge instructions.

Care at home after surgery

Parents and caregivers can use the following tips to help children adjust after a surgery or procedure.

  • Stock up on simple foods and drinks such as broth, apple juice, Kool-Aid, popsicles and Jell-O.
  • Start with soft, bland foods when your child is ready to try something more filling. (Your child should start to feel hungry in 12 to 24 hours.)
  • Gradually work up to their normal foods.
  • Plan some quiet play and games; your child may be tired and sore.
  • Gently ease them back into their normal routine.
  • You may need to limit their movements for a brief time after their surgery or procedure. Kids may be uncoordinated or confused for up to 24 hours after a procedure and or anesthesia.
  • Let siblings know their brother or sister will need to take it easy for a while.
  • A special dinner, new book or toy can make coming home a celebration.

Behavior changes may happen after a surgery or procedure

  • Children may act differently after a surgery or procedure. These behavior changes are normal, especially for young children who have less ability to understand and talk about it.
  • For most children, behavioral changes after a surgery or procedure last no more than two weeks.
  • Young children may need more attention and may act cross and demanding. They may have nightmares, poor appetites or bathroom accidents, even if they are toilet trained.
  • Older children may act younger, test limits or become withdrawn or clingy.
  • Support your child's return to a normal routine by:
    • Being understanding
    • Setting gentle limits
    • Encouraging independence
    • Giving them chances to play and talk about their surgery or procedure

If you are concerned about your child's actions following a surgery or procedure, call your doctor's office or the specialist who performed the surgery or procedure.