Preparing Your Child for a Sedation Procedure

Before coming to the hospital for a test or procedure that requires sedation, a child should not have anything to eat or drink for several hours. It is necessary that a child’s stomach is empty to prevent vomiting that may occur with sedation medicines.

Follow these guidelines:

  • Solids up to eight hours before the procedure.
  • Milk up to six hours before the procedure.
  • Formula up to six hours before the procedure.
  • Breast milk up to four hours before the procedure.
  • Clear fluids up to two hours before the procedure.

Note: Orange juice is not considered a clear fluid.

Morning Prescription Medicines

A child can be given prescription medicine while he or she is still allowed to take clear liquids.

Do not give a child medication with apple sauce or pudding. These are considered solid foods. Jell-O can be used as an alternative but only up to two hours before the procedure. Medications that are to be taken later in the day may be given after the child has completed the procedure and recovered from sedation.

How to Help Your Child During a Fast

Consoling a young child who is not allowed to eat can be a challenge. Unless otherwise instructed, empty stomach feeling can be eased with clear liquids until two hours prior to the procedure. 

Keep the child away from other children who are eating. A hungry child is resourceful at finding things to eat, such as eating pieces of cereal under the car seat cushion, and a sympathetic brother or sister may be tempted to share food.

Parents should be sure to eat. The child will need a parent’s full attention the day of the procedure. The entire process, from arrival at the hospital through sedation and recovery, can be physically draining on parents. Parents are strongly encouraged to eat and drink prior to arriving at the hospital. Food is not allowed in the radiology waiting rooms or patient care areas. If a parent needs to step out for a snack or a drink the child’s nurse can offer assistance.