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.
Mom pulls a kid in a red wagon out the door of the hospital.

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.

Lora talks about her experience with Children's Hospital Colorado when her two daughters had tonsillectomies.

The Connection Journey: Reassurance Before Your Child's Surgery

Both of Lora's daughters had tonsillectomy surgery. Now she's sharing advice on everything from anesthesia to recovery with another family about to go through it.