Learn what to expect during your child’s procedure, including how you can prepare yourself and your child both physically and emotionally for a hospital stay or surgery.

This video has been created to help pediatric patients and their families prepare for surgery at Penn State Children’s Hospital. If you have any questions about your child’s surgery, please talk with your surgeon. For more information on how to prepare your child for surgery, please contact the Child Life Program at 717-531-0003 extension 320498.

What to know about your child’s procedure

Details vary depending on the procedure your child is having, but thinking about the following items can help you be prepared.

Pre-register for surgery

Call 717-531-8855 and ask if there are additional forms you can complete ahead of your child’s surgery.

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

When to arrive

Your child’s doctor or nurse will let you know what time to arrive at the hospital, where to go, and the expected length of your visit.


If anesthesia is required, make sure your child has an empty stomach. Your child’s doctor will give you explicit instructions about when to stop solid foods and liquids and how to handle medications prior to surgery.

Prepare your child for a procedure

As a parent, you know your child best. You know how to make your child feel comfortable and safe during a potentially frightening situation, like a hospitalization or procedure.

We’ve prepared some tips to help if you need them. Learn what you can to do help your child adjust to being in the hospital.

Prepare yourself for your child’s procedure

It’s normal to feel anxious about your child’s visit to the hospital. Ways you can feel more comfortable and better able to support to your child include:

  • Before your child’s surgery, familiarize yourself with the procedure by talking to a Child Life specialist about the surgery and what to expect at the hospital and during recovery. Understanding these things will help prepare you and your child for what’s going to happen.
  • Talk about how you feel with a family member, a friend, your child's health care provider or someone you trust. Parents often experience feelings of worry, helplessness, disappointment, anger, and even guilt.
  • Ask questions. Find out about support and resources available to you within the hospital. Talk with your child's nurse, doctor or Child Life specialist about pain management techniques and how you can help your child cope with any discomfort he or she may feel.
  • Take time for your other children. Siblings often feel sadness, anger, and even jealousy related to a brother or sister’s illness and surgery. Listen to and validate your other children’s feelings. Consider asking a friend to stay with your child at the hospital part of the time, so you can spend time with your other children.