Whether you’re coming in for one clinic appointment or several, Seattle Children’s will do everything possible to make you and your child feel included, safe and comfortable.

You and your child are essential members of the healthcare team. Please ask us questions anytime.

In this section you’ll find important information and helpful checklists about coming for a surgery or procedure.

COVID-19 Information

Your child’s safety is important to us. Our infection prevention experts have set in place policies and practices to protect our patients from COVID-19 while they’re here receiving care, whether that is surgery, a clinic visit, an inpatient stay, urgent care or a visit to our emergency department. Learn more about how we’re keeping everyone safe.

  • After your surgery date is scheduled, you will be contacted by a member of our care team so that they can conduct a phone screening for COVID-19 risk and exposure. If we determine that a COVID-19 test is required before your procedure, we will provide further instructions, including direction for how to schedule and complete your mandatory COVID-19 test that must be done two days before your surgery.
  • Up to 4 parents/caregivers may accompany their child to our locations on their surgery day.
  • If you are concerned about travel or other factors related to COVID-19, please contact your clinic or provider to get advice that is specific to your and your child’s unique needs.

    Things to Do Once You Are Scheduled

    If your child is coming to Seattle Children’s for a surgery, procedure, or hospital stay, you will have some things to take care of before you come.

    • Call your insurance company

      Check with your insurance company to see if you need a second opinion for planned or elective surgery.

    • Read your Before Surgery/Procedure checklist

      Once your child's surgery is scheduled, you will receive a checklist in the mail. This includes all of the important things you will need to do before your child's surgery or procedure, including instructions about medicines, food and drink, anesthesia and location.

    • Arrange for a place to stay, food and transportation

      If your child is spending the night at in the hospital, you will want to look at sleeping, transportation and food options. If you need help finding a place to stay or transportation in Seattle or Bellevue, contact Guest Services.

      To get help with transportation, a place to stay, or for questions about your visit, contact Guest Services.

      To learn more about hospital campus amenities, see the Hospital Campus Visitor and Family Guide.

    • Arrange child care for siblings

      Day procedure

      The length and nature of your visit may make it difficult for young children to attend. If children attend, we recommend bringing another adult to supervise.

      We have free playrooms for patients and their brothers and sisters ages 3 to 11 who are toilet-trained (no Pull-Ups) at our hospital campus and Bellevue locations.

      Learn more about the Bellevue Playroom. Learn about hours and availability for the Clinic Playroom at the hospital campus.

      Staying overnight and in the hospital

      Siblings are not allowed to stay overnight. You will need to make other child care arrangements.

      To find out when siblings and others can visit, see our Visitor Policy.

    • Tell us about your religious, cultural beliefs, access or other special needs

      Let us know about cultural beliefs or unique needs that may affect you child's treatment and care.


      We offer free interpreters for Deaf and hard-of-hearing, and non-English languages. We should have arranged them when you scheduled.


      If you need a wheelchair when you arrive, let us know at 206-987-3360.

      To learn more, visit our Accessibilty and Special Needs section.

    • Get legal papers, if needed

      Birth or adoptive parents do not need to bring a birth certificate or any other legal papers.

      • If you are a legal guardian, we will need to see the legal papers that say so.
      • If you are the parent, but do not have legal custody, we will need to see the legal papers that allow you to make healthcare decisions for your child.
      • If you do not have the legal papers we need to see, call our Social Work Department at 206-987-2760 (voice) or 206-987-5186 (TTY) for help.
    • Send medical records

      If requested, ask your child's doctor(s) to send medical records, X-rays or test results to the hospital.

    • Get insurance authorization

      Ask your insurance company if you need a managed-care referral from your child's primary doctor and/or preauthorization for your child's hospital stay.

      To learn more, visit our Insurance section. For questions, call Seattle Children’s Insurance Processing Department at 206-987-5757.

      Fax managed-care insurance referral

      If you need a managed-care referral, ask your child's doctor to fax us at 206-985-3297. To find out if you need one, contact your insurance company.

      Important: Make sure Seattle Children’s receives the insurance referral at least two business days before your child's admission.

      To learn more, visit our Insurance section. For questions, call Seattle Children’s Insurance Processing Department at 206-987-5757.

    • Apply for financial assistance

      Find out more about financial assistance.

    Things to Do the Day Before a Surgery or Procedure

    • Find out the time and get eating and drinking instructions

      You should receive a phone call from Seattle Children's before your child's surgery or procedure with eating and drinking instructions, location and time.

      For a surgery or procedure at the Seattle Hospital Campus

      If you do not hear from us 2 business days before your child's surgery, call the Surgery Center at 206-987-7890.

      For a surgery/procedure at the Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center

      If you do not hear from us 3 business days before the surgery, call the Bellevue Surgery Center Nurse Line at 206-884-9200.

    • Give your child a bath

      If you were given the Hibiclens cleanser, follow the instructions your provider gave you. Pay special attention to the surgical site (avoiding eyes, ears and mouth).

    • Check for illness

      If your child becomes ill one week before surgery, call your child's specialty clinic. The clinic’s name will be on your Before Surgery/Procedure Checklist you received in the mail.

    • Hospital Campus Visitor and Family Guide

      To find out about directions, food, visiting and other hospital neighborhood services at the Seattle location, see the Hospital Campus Visitor and Family Guide.

    Preparing Your Child

    We know that a surgery or procedure is a big event for you and your child. Talking together about your visit ahead of time may help your child feel less afraid.

    Remember, your experience with hospitals may be very different from what your child will experience.

    Seattle Children’s has a variety of resources to help you talk to your child about their surgery. Call your community doctor or the Children’s specialty clinic that referred your child for surgery to get all the information you need.

    • Tips on preparing your child

      From check-in to discharge, follow the colorful photo story of an outpatient day surgery here at Children's. Written by Child Life specialists, this helpful booklet can lessen worry and spark conversation.

      Preschoolers preparing for day surgery can enjoy this coloring and activity book that follows a boy and his teddy bear through the surgery experience.

      Here are some more tips to help your child feel safer about their upcoming visit:

      • Have your child plan their visit by filling out the Surgery Day Plan in the What to Expect on Your Surgery Day booklet (above).
      • Listen to your child.
      • Be honest about what will happen and what may hurt.
      • Use short, simple terms they know.
      • Reassure them that if something hurts, there are ways to help the pain, including medicine, relaxation, listening to music and playing games. Watch our Parents, Speak Up About Pain video below to learn more.
      • Use one of their stuffed animals to show what will happen and encourage them to ask questions and talk about their fears.
      • Explain that they will have special medicine to help them fall asleep for the surgery, and that they will wake up when the surgery or procedure is over.
      • Reassure them that you will be able to be with them after they wake up. If your child seems uneasy with talk about the hospital or their surgery/procedure, stop and try again later.
      • Reassure them that having to go to the hospital does not mean they have done something wrong.

      Anesthesia and Your Procedure Day (video 10:37)

      Parents, Speak Up About Pain (video 8:14)

    • Helping children of different ages

      A child understands things based on his age and developmental level. You probably have many ideas of your own. Here are some of ours that you might also find helpful.

      Infants and toddlers

      Infants and toddlers need to have familiar objects around them at the hospital. Bring along your child's favorite toy, blanket or other comfort items. A family member or friend can be with your child during visiting hours if you must be away from the hospital or need a break.


      As child gets older, they can be told that they are going to the hospital and what will happen there. It is important to let them express their feelings. Give them clear and simple responses.

      Saying, "I'll bet you're wondering what it's going to be like at the hospital, aren't you?" rather than, "How do you feel?" will encourage them to talk.

      Let them be the doctor to a doll or stuffed toy. They can "operate" on it, give it "shots" or just apply a Band-Aid. They might express their feelings more clearly while they’re playing than if you ask them directly.

      Reassure your child that you'll stay with them when you can and that other people will take care of them if you can't be with them.


      Many of our suggestions for younger children are helpful with this age group. However, these children understand more than younger children and will ask more questions. Explain that the hospital treats children of all ages, with many different medical problems.

      It's important to explain that after the surgery doctors, nurses and other people at the hospital will do certain tests and procedures to make them feel better and make sure that they are healing from the surgery.


      Teenagers are able to understand more information about their surgery, but that doesn't mean they completely understand. They may, however, be reluctant to ask questions.

      Encourage your teenager to talk to their doctors and nurses about their condition. Be sure they are included in discussions and decisions about their care so that they will feel independent and more in control.

      Your teen may be worried about their privacy. Reassure them that the hospital staff will treat them with respect. Even at this age, a familiar object, journal, video, or favorite tape or CD can help your teen feel calmer at the hospital.

      When appropriate, encourage visits from your teen's friends for peer support.

      Here are more resources and books (PDF) on how to prepare children of all ages for a surgery or hospital stay.

    • Breathing and relaxation

      Calming the body through breathing and mindfulness exercises

      Having a procedure can be stressful for you and your child. Sometimes it can be hard to cope with the stress. Learning how to calm the body can help lower feelings of anxiety and manage some pain,. Mindfulness is also helpful to parents, because it can help children feel calmer and safer if their parent is calm.

      It is possible to train our bodies to be calm even during stressful times by using exercises that can be learned through practice. In this section, we have compiled helpful resources to get you started on learning some of these exercises. . Start with one exercise and keep practicing once or twice a day as part of your preparation for the procedure day.

      Duration of practice session

      • Choose from one of the resources listed here and start by taking a pause for 30 seconds.
      • Adults can go for about 20 minutes at a time, while children should start with a duration of 1 minute per year of age (for example, 5 minutes for a 5-year-old), then calm the body for 2 minutes before starting an exercise again.
      • Follow the instructions within each resource.

      Tips for practice

      • Choose a specific time of day to practice and try to stick to it. This helps to create routine.
      • Find a comfortable place where you won’t get interrupted so you can focus on your practice.
      • Try to introduce these exercises to your child when they are in a safe and calm setting. Avoid starting a new practice while your child is upset or there’s a lot of activity around them.
      • Relaxation is best done gently and in collaboration. If your child is not willing to start, do not force it. Instead, try again at another time.
      • With young children, games can be played using bubbles (or pinwheels) to see who can blow the most bubbles in one breath.
      • There is no limit to using these techniques; they can be helpful whenever worries about the past, present or future start to arise. 


    The Day of the Surgery

    • Arrive on time

      Allow 15–20 minutes for parking, badging and check-in. It is very important to arrive at the hospital on time.

    • Do not allow your child to eat or drink

      Follow the instructions you were given on the phone and in the surgery/procedure checklist you were mailed. If you do not follow these instructions, your child may not be able to have the surgery or procedure.

    • Check for illness

      If your child has symptoms of a cold or flu the morning of the surgery/procedure, call:

    • Bring important things
      • Insurance cards: Bring your health insurance and prescription cards.
      • Medical coupons: Remember to bring coupons if your child is on Medicaid, DSHS, Apple Health or Basic Health Plus.
      • Legal papers: If you are not a parent with legal custody, bring legal papers that allow you to admit your child to the hospital or authorize your consent to your child's surgery. Without these legal papers, your child's surgery or hospital stay may be cancelled.
      • List of medicines: Bring a list of the prescription and non-prescription medicines and vitamin supplements your child is taking, including the name, dosage and concentration. If you do not have a list, feel free to bring the actual bottles of medicines or vitamins. It’s important you do not give your child medicines from home while at Children’s. 
      • Clothing: Children’s provides gowns and footwear, but your child may feel better in their own clothes, like sweat pants, large T-shirts, socks, underwear, pajamas, etc. The parent(s) staying overnight should bring a bag with clothes, personal toiletries and medicines.
      • Play and comfort items: A favorite blanket, toy, book, video or music (with headphones), phone or computer will help soothe your child. Consider bringing pictures of family, friends and pets.
      • Car seat, booster seat: Remember to use a car seat, booster seat (PDF) or seat belt (depending on your child's age and weight) when transporting your child.

    Talking With Your Child’s Doctor

    Here are some helpful questions to ask your child's doctor.

    • Condition
      • Do you have any written information that I can use to learn more about my child's surgery and condition?
    • Surgery
      • When can my child last eat and drink?
      • Do I need to wait in the Surgery Center while my child is in surgery?
      • When will I learn that my child is out of surgery and what their condition is?
      • Will there be any noticeable changes to my child's body?
      • How long will my child be in the hospital after surgery?
      • What pain should my child expect?
      • Do I need to schedule a follow-up appointment with a clinic after my child is discharged?
      • Who do I ask to talk to if I have questions about my child's follow-up care?
    • Medicine
      • What is the name of the medicine? What is the medicine for?
      • Is it safe to give if my child has allergies or adverse reactions to some medicine? Is the dose correct for my child's weight?
      • When we go home, how am I supposed to give it? What time each day?With or without food? What is the best way to measure my child's liquid medicine?
      • If my child is still taking the medicine once we go home, how long should my child continue taking it? When should I see an improvement?
      • What are the side effects? What do I do if they my child has them? Is the medicine safe to give with other medicines or dietary supplements? What food, drink or activities should my child avoid while taking the medicine?
      • Whom do I call if I have questions about the medicine?
    • Support
      • Are there any support groups where I can connect with other parents?
      • Do you know of any other local or Internet-based resources?

    Going Home

    After your child’s surgery or procedure, your child’s nurse will talk to you about the care they will need at home. There will be special instructions to follow during the immediate recovery period.

    It is important that you ask your nurse or other care providers for the information you need to feel comfortable in caring for your child at home. If they need special home care equipment or home nursing, your child’s nurse will help you arrange it.

    People to talk to before you go home

    Before your child goes home, plan to talk to:

    • Your child’s nurse about activity levels for your child, how to care for them at home, and medications, therapies or follow-up appointments
    • Your child’s teacher about homework assignments and returning to school
    • The school nurse about your child’s condition and healthcare needs, and any necessary steps to take to arrange for returning to school
    • Your childcare provider about your child’s condition and returning to a care schedule
    • Your friends and family about help you may need, such as care after returning home or help with transportation home

    Changes in your child’s behavior

    You may notice changes in your child’s behavior when they return home after their surgery. These might include changes in sleep patterns or fear of being away from you.

    Your child may also show behavior associated with an earlier stage of child development, such as thumb-sucking, temper tantrums or changes in toilet training. These are usually temporary.

    Encourage your child to talk about their surgery/procedure and reassure them that having surgery can be upsetting. If changes in behavior continue for six weeks or more, please talk to your child’s doctor.