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Preparing for Baby’s Surgery

In two weeks, my 10-month-old baby boy will be having open heart surgery. We’ve known since the day after he was born, then diagnosed with a large VSD, that he was likely going to need surgery to repair it. After months of monitoring his progress, the definitive decision was just made one week ago to move forward with the surgery. It took no time at all to get scheduled, and now, after 10 months of waiting, I feel like the surgery itself has caught us by surprise.

My husband and I spent hours in bed last night thinking of all the questions we don’t yet know the answers to. We know he’ll be in the hospital for at least four days, but what will his recovery be like after he’s discharged? When will he return to his normal self? When will he be able to return to the child care center? How do we prepare our older daughter? When can she visit him without getting freaked out by all the tubes and wires connected to her baby brother? Will we need lots of babysitters, or will we be able to manage it ourselves by tag teaming? Will we want visitors in the hospital, and if so, when? Do we bring his own food with us on his 8-hour pre-op visit or will he be fed there, or unable to eat? Will he need his own clothes while he’s in the hospital? How soon after surgery will we be able to hold him?

I’m sure we’ll get answers to many of these questions when we meet with the surgeon this week, but some of the best advice on these sorts of question — and the dozens more I’m sure I haven’t thought of yet — comes from parent who have been there themselves. So if you’ve ever had a young child in the hospital and have any advice at all, please, please , please share.


  1. GreenMom November 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    When Max was in the hospital for a week, we did want visitors. All you’ll be doing is staring at your little guy and the monitors so you’ll want a distraction. However, the docs might not want visitors to reduce the spread of germs so ask them first. Bring magazines and things to browse through…books are too hard to stop and start all the time. We also played music quietly on our iPods to keep the mood light (or to try to). Wear comfy clothes, and pick up some hospital appropriate pjs/clothes (ex yoga pants) to “sleep” in if you’re planning to stay there at night. Bring water, hand cream and chapstick…the air is really dry. Throw some food in your bag for pre-op, but they should ask you what he eats and provide all that. Bring some snacks for yourselves though. He won’t need his own clothes. He’ll likely have leads stuck to him so they’ll put him in baby scrubs or hospital gowns (that will be HUGE on him) but that open easily so they can check everything. If you use special soap on him or anything you might want to bring that too since they may give him sponge baths. Max was in the hospital for a week and Ben had day surgery and both times we were amazed how quickly they bounced back. Good luck!

  2. News Mom November 14, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Green Mom, thank you so much for all the tips. I hadn’t even thought about the hospital appropriate PJs issue, even though I know I’ll be sleeping for a night or two. All your insight is so valuable. I appreciate it.

  3. Another Mom November 15, 2011 at 11:30 am

    My daughter was in the hospital for a couple of days when she was a month old. While the hospital gown was nice because all the wires and things fit better since it was fairly open and easy to get on and off, the detergent that the hospital uses really irritated her skin and she got a mild rash. So perhaps see if there’s a little gown or something (maybe even a sleep sack?) that you can use that is washed in your own laundry soap, particularly if your son has sensitive skin.

  4. tonya October 25, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    My 8 month old daughter was in the hospital for 5 months and now having a surgery in a few days …
    here is a few things im packing…

    Button up jammies. …all the leads can go through the buttons

    Going home clothes


    Her own food and snacks and favorite spoon

    Her seat I use to feed her In ..sometimes those things aient available in the hospital usually they are all being used


    Laptop …you can use it to look up all those fancy words the docs use and trust me it helps get your mind off of things it gets stressful just sitting there listening to each breath and watching the monitors …

    Comfy clothes

    Phone charger ! !

    Ask for food vouchers

    Do not take meds …my daughter was on didg
    And lasix and they went bad because they would not refriderate them for me
    they order there own

    Cash for midnight snacks and drinks

    Hope this helps good luck ill be.praying

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