Up to One Week Before the Procedure

  • 7 days before the procedure: Your child should STOP taking ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin or Advil), aspirin or naproxen (e.g., Aleve) for at least 7 days before the procedure, unless approved by your surgeon.

  • You may receive a call from our staff to confirm personal information, insurance and a contact phone number.

  • Stock up on food for your child’s recovery. Once your child returns home, you will likely be busy helping your child recuperate from the surgery.

  • A nurse will call you before the procedure to:

    • Review your child’s medical history

    • Give instructions for when your child should stop eating and drinking

    • Give instructions for when to arrive

The Day Before the Procedure

  • To prevent infection, make sure your child bathes, washes hair and brushes teeth the night before surgery. Do not use any lotions, creams or powder after the bath.

  • Dress your child in clean clothing after bathing and have them sleep on clean bed sheets.  Your doctor may request a special washing solution be used, as discussed in your pre-procedure call. 

  • Remove all nail polish, artificial nails, jewelry, piercings, contact lenses and cosmetics. Place long hair in a ponytail or pigtails. Hair ties and fasteners must be metal-free.

  • It is okay to give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) up to 11 p.m. the night before the procedure. Do NOT give your child ibuprofen or naproxen (e.g., Advil, Motrin).

  • Follow instructions about when to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. Eating and drinking before anesthesia or sedation can cause problems such as choking or vomiting during the procedure.

  • Your child will likely need your your full attention. Please arrange alternate care for siblings, if possible. Extra noise and activity may cause stress and anxiety at a time when your child needs to rest and heal.

  • For children having surgery at the Hospital, we encourage that only two visitors come with the patient. The sibling playroom may provide alternate care for siblings when other options are unavailable.  Be sure to ask your nurse.

  • Work with your child to pack his or her bag, including:

    • Any medications your child might need

    • Paperwork from your doctor’s office (for surgery at the hospital)

    • Your child’s favorite toy or security item

    • A pillow for the ride home 

  • Review directions and parking information for St. Louis Children’s Hospital and for the Specialty Care Center, depending on where your child is having surgery. That way you can arrive at your scheduled arrival time.

  • For information on what to expect during surgery, visit:

Preparing Your Child

In addition to the physical preparations above, helping your child prepare mentally is a key part of having an overall positive experience.

For tips, visit our Preparing Your Child for Surgery page.

Surgery Connect

Patients having surgery at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Specialty Care Center can download a free mobile app, Surgery Connect.

The Surgery Connect app guides you through your child’s surgical procedure — from preparation to notifications during surgery and after care information.

Download the app for free.