Tips for Preparing Your Child for Surgery

To help parents prepare their children for Congenital Heart Surgery we have prepared the following documents that parents can download and use:

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Additional tips that will help with your hospital stay:

  • At least two changes of clothes for the parents (even if you are not staying at the hospital)
  • One or two different outfits for your child once they are moved to the pediatric unit...they won't be wearing much in the ICU
  • A stuffed animal or blanket for your child
  • Snacks that do not need to be refrigerated (i.e. chips, cookies, juice boxes, crackers)
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste, brush/comb, shampoo, razor, deodorant, and other personal hygiene item you need
  • Laptop computer if you have one...the hospital has wireless connections so you can surf the net while in your child's room
  • Phone and computer battery chargers
  • Important phone numbers and a calling card if needed to place long distance calls
  • Pen, paper, journals, newspapers, magazines, cross word puzzles, knitting...any activity to help keep your head/hands busy while your child is sleeping or in surgery
  • Pictures to hang up on the bulletin board in your child's room
  • Your camera and video camera! The pictures may not be the prettiest, but your child will get to see how strong they were when they are grown up
  • Favorite movies, games and activities for your child
  • CD's for your child to listen to
  • Parents: Any medications you take, you may want to include (i.e. Pepto or Imodium)

This list could go on and on, but this is a good start. The hospital has many items available here on site, but it is nice to have your own items to make you more comfortable.

Post-Op: Solutions and Tips for Administering Medicine to Children

Tips for Liquid Medicine

  • Put the medicine into a syringe and squirt the liquid into the side of your child's mouth. Avoid squirting it into the back of her mouth as gagging or choking could occur.
  • Mix the medicine with another liquid or soft food. Make very small portions so that your child will take the entire amount.
  • Ask about using a flavor additive, like Flavor-X.
  • For children over 2 years old, sucking on a popsicle or ice chips before taking the medicine can cover up the liquid's bitter taste.
  • Give your child choices about how to take the medicine (syringe, up, or spoon)

Tips for Pill/Chewables

  • Have your child put the pill into his mouth and then have him fill his mouth with water or juice. Have him take big swallows. The pill should slide down his throat easily.
  • Have your child pace the pill under her tongue. Have her drink water or juice in gulps from a cup. The pill often slips out from under the tongue and slides down the throat.
  • Place the pill whole or crushed into a gel capsule. This often covers up the bitter taste of the pill's coating.
  • Put the pill into a spoonful of Jello, applesauce, yogurt or pudding to hide the taste and make it slide down easier.
  • Wrap the pill in a piece of fruit roll-ups.
  • Coat the pill with Magic Shell chocolate syrup.
  • Have your child practice swallowing pills by starting with mini M&M's or Tiny tarts. However, make sure to explain that the medicine is NOT candy.
  • Ask the pharmacist if the medicine is available in tablets or liquid form.

The Basics of Medicine Administration

  • EXPLAIN to children why they need to take the medicine. Use simple age appropriate language. Example: “This medicine helps fight the germs that make you sick.”
  • PREPARE children in advance. This helps them get ready and avoids feelings of being tricked into taking the medicine. Example: “After breakfast it will be time to take your medicine.”
  • PROVIDE CHOICES when possible to help children preserve some control. Example: “What would you like to drink before/after you take your medicine?”
  • OFFER PLAY with stuffed animals or dolls taking pretend medicine. Play is a way children practice coping with and mastering challenges.
  • STAY CALM. Children sense when you're upset or expecting failure. Look for some humor in the situation. Try to use deep breaths, encouraging words, hugs, and other positive strategies.

The Child Life Specialists of Medical City Children's Hospital have provided all of the information in this medication section.