AHS Home  | 

Toddlers (1 - 2 years)

Toddlers are becoming more independent and like to be given choices whenever possible. Their main concern is having their parents close by. Toddlers do best when they are prepared 1 to 2 days before their surgery, as they don't have a good concept of time. Although toddlers won't understand why they need to have surgery, it will help if they are told about it using simple language and pictures.

Toddlers may be concerned about:

  • separation from parents
  • changes to their routine
  • strange surroundings - bed, room
  • unfamiliar people
  • medical equipment and procedures

To prepare your toddler for surgery:

  • Explain the surgery in words your toddler will understand, such as "You have been getting lots of owies in your ears, the doctor will fix the owies in your ears."
  • Separation from parents can be stressful at this age. Make plans for at least one parent to be with your child as much as possible to provide comfort and security during your hospital stay. Let us know what we can do to support both you and your child.
  • Try to keep your toddler's routine at home as normal as possible before and after surgery.
  • Bring items from home such as a favourite toy or blanket to create more familiar surroundings for your toddler. You may also want to bring a special sippy cup, bottle or nipple to use after surgery.
  • Children at this age may shy away from unfamiliar people and new experiences. Just before and during any procedures or exams, reassure your child by explaining what the nurses or doctors will do. Have the staff show what will be done using your child's stuffed animal. Children at this age learn best by watching. Encourage your child to "practice" through play with a doll or on a parent.
  • Your child may feel scared, angry and/or sad about being in the hospital. Although these reactions are normal, it is important to help your child express these feelings through play.
  • Be patient with your child as toddlers often cry or are fussy during times of stress.
  • Offer choices whenever possible to give your child a sense of control. For example, "Which stuffed animal shall we bring?" or "What color popsicle would you like?"
  • Help your child relax by reading a story together, talking about favourite activities, listening to music, dimming the lights, giving lots of cuddles, gentle rocking and using toys for distraction.
  • Day of Surgery - Photo Tour and read books together about coming to the hospital.

Toddlers | Preschoolers | School Age Children | Teens