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Pediatric Sedation

The pediatric sedation team at HSHS St. John's Children's Hospital is made up of specially trained physicians and nurses.

Young child sleeping with IV in hand holding teddy bear

Some children cannot remain still for imaging tests or medical procedures so they may need sedation medication to help them relax or sleep during that time. Sedation also may be used in combination with pain medication to help children remain comfortable during stressful situations. 

The decision to use sedation is based on:

  • The age and developmental level of the child
  • The length of time it takes to do the procedure, and
  • The amount of discomfort expected during the procedure.

The exact medications used for sedation vary depending on the child’s:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Developmental level
  • Health history
  • Physical exam, and
  • Type of test or procedure ordered

A physician will evaluate the child before the test/procedure and discuss the sedation plan with the parents, including side effects, risks and options.

Two women health care professionals talking with a young boy patient

Administering sedation

Sedation can be administered orally (by mouth), through anesthesia (using a mask) or intravenously (IV). This is determined by the scheduling nurses and physician at the time of procedure. In the majority of cases sedation is administered via an IV.

The pediatric sedation team will determine the way the child will be sedated on the day of the procedure. If appropriate, the child may be encouraged to attempt the procedure without sedation. If the child is vomiting or has a cough, fever or flu symptoms the day before or the day of the scheduled procedure, please call your physician. The procedure may need to be rescheduled.

Young boy enjoying french fries

Before sedation

Eating and Drinking Instructions Before Coming to St. John's Children's Hospital

It is important to follow these eating and drinking instructions. These are general guidelines which may need to be adjusted for safety reasons. If you choose not to follow these instructions, your child’s diagnostic testing and/or sedation may be delayed or cancelled. 

Eight hours before procedure: Stop all solid foods, candy, gum, greasy, oily, buttery, creamy foods, beef, chicken, pork and fish. This also includes fast food.

Six hours before procedure: Stop milk products, formula, orange juice and juices containing pulp.

Four hours before procedure: Stop breastfeeding (breast milk).

Three hours before procedure: Stop all clear liquids. Clear liquids include water, Kool-Aid®, apple juice, Popsicles®, Jell-O®, Pedialyte® and Infalite®.

NOT CONSIDERED CLEAR LIQUIDS: Formula, breast milk, orange juice and juices containing pulp.

It also is important to:

  • Take any medications, including antibiotics, as directed.
  • Bring guardianship documents for the child to the hospital.