Steps to Prepare for Your Child's Surgery

If your child is having surgery at Nicklaus Children's Hospital let our Child Life department help prepare you and your child for their surgery.

Your pre-surgical orientation will include:

  • Tour of specific areas to familiarize them with the sights and sounds of the hospital
  • Helpful information and resources for siblings and parents
  • Opportunities to answer questions your child may have about his/her upcoming hospital experience

The Child Life Pre-Surgical Orientation Program is offered for children ages 3 and up. All attendees must be registered before arrival for the tour.

Register for Pre-Surgical Orientation
Call (305)666-6511 ext. 3932

Talking to your child about surgery

Good communication is the best way to prepare your child for a hospital visit. Rather than surprise your child, try to explain the problem in simple terms that he or she will understand. This is the best way to earn and keep their trust. Be sure to give your child a chance to ask questions and tell you how he or she is feeling.

  • For infants, the main issue is ensuring that the parents understand the child's medical issues and understand each other's fears and expectations.
  • Toddlers are frightened of separation and tend to think that disease and surgery are punishments. They need to be reassured that they are not being punished.
  • School-age children may fear anesthesia, pain and even death. They will need reassurance and preparation, including honest answers to their questions.
  • For adolescents, the key issue is empowerment. They need to participate in the decision-making process, while still relying on adult support and reassurance. They may not feel it is acceptable to express fear or pain and need to be encouraged to voice their questions and concerns.

Things your child should avoid before surgery

  • Do not give your child aspirin products, ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®, etc.), naproxen (Aleve®, Naprosyn®, etc.), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or herbal remedies for two weeks prior to surgery.

The day before surgery

  • The Same Day Surgery nurse will call you before surgery to inquire about your child's medical history.
  • The Same Day Surgery nurse will call you again between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. the night before the surgery to give you the time and instructions for surgery.
  • If you miss that call, please call 305-666-6511, ext. 3950.


  • Please follow the no-eating-after-midnight instructions the night before surgery.
  • After midnight, your child may be able to have Gatorade® or Pedialyte® only as directed by the nurse.
  • This includes no milk or juice after midnight.
  • If you or your child do not follow the no-eating or drinking instructions as indicated to you by your nurse, surgery will be delayed or cancelled.

Medical clearances

  • Your pediatrician must complete a surgical clearance 24 to 72 hours prior to the surgery date.
  • If your child needs clearance paperwork from a different specialty, please fax clearance to your surgeon's office.
  • In the event that your child is sick and is not cleared by your pediatrician, please notify the surgeon's office immediately.


  • The registration office will call you one to two days before surgery.
  • A pre-surgical orientation is available to all families. Please contact the Child Life Department at 305-666-6511, ext. 3932. It has been noted that patients who participate in this class are more relaxed prior to their surgical procedure.


  • No blood work is needed for surgery unless otherwise instructed by your pediatrician or surgeon.
  • A urine sample may be required prior to surgery. The registrar will provide a specimen cup for collection.

Legal documents

  • If a court order is needed for your child, please bring in documentation on the day of surgery.


  • If your child's insurance coverage changes prior to surgery, please call the surgeon's office immediately with the new information.

Tips for the day of your child's surgery:

  • Add 30 minutes of travel time to account for traffic and parking delays.
  • Please make sure you have arranged transportation for before and after surgery.
  • Patients 18 years and older must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
  • Upon arrival, please report to patient access for registration.
  • Please make sure your child does not wear:
    • Any jewelry (including all piercings)
    • Contact lenses (bring eyeglasses)
    • Make-up and hair accessories
    • Hair gel/spray

To help prevent surgical site infections please refrain from the following:

  • Do NOT shave surgical site area.
  • Bathe with an anti-bacterial soap the evening to surgery. If surgery is scheduled in the afternoon, bathe the morning of surgery.

How to clean your child with CHG soap

How to clean your child with CHG wipes