At the infant and toddler stage of development preparing for surgery is mostly about preparing the parents for what is happening and what to expect after surgery. Toddlers will require very simple and straightforward explanations of what is happening with minimal information. For example, you may want to say “the doctor is going to make your leg better”, rather than a detailed explanation that will merely confuse your child.
Before surgery children may be tearful or fussy, as they will be required to go without food or drink before surgery as an adult would. The hospital, with different noises, faces and activities can be upsetting, and your child may require much more comforting and want to be held more than usual.
Like their older counterparts, children will often take on the attitudes of their parents, so if you appear to be upset and concerned, they will also be upset. Presenting a calm, happy attitude when around your child will help considerably when trying to keep them calm and comfortable.
After surgery, you can expect your child to be fussy, and in some cases, difficult to console. The combination of pain from the procedure, an empty stomach, and feeling strange due to the anesthesia typically results in a crying baby that will need to be held and comforted. Be sure to use pain medication as the doctor recommends, as small children are unable to verbalize their need for pain relief in some cases.
If the surgery is one that takes an extended recovery, you may need to enlist help from friends and family to take turns comforting your child, so that you are able to sleep while the baby has the care they need.