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Anaesthesia – Fasting (afternoon surgery) fact sheet

Afternoon surgery

Fasting and admission information

At the Queensland Children’s Hospital, we aim to make your child’s stay as safe and comfortable as possible. This information has been prepared to help you and your child plan for an operation or procedure. We recommend you tell your child about their visit and explain why it is needed before they arrive. When they know what to expect, it can help reduce any fear or anxiety about coming to hospital.

Arriving for surgery

Please arrive at the Surgical Admissions Lounge on Level 4 at 11:15am unless we have contacted you with a different time. It is important that you arrive on time at the Surgical Admissions Lounge. If you are late, your child’s surgery may be delayed.

A parent or legal guardian must be with your child when they arrive at admission to complete the admission forms. You must also stay and be available at all times during your child’s admission.

Please note, only one parent/carer can come with your child on the day of their surgery. We also ask that siblings stay at home. Breastfed babies can be brought along.


We appreciate how hard it can be for a child to fast, but it is very important for you and your child to follow the fasting instructions you are given. If there is food or liquid in your child’s stomach during the anaesthetic, it could come back up and then enter their lungs as they go off to sleep and cause serious damage.

We ask that you work together with our staff in closely following fasting instructions to ensure your child does not fast for a prolonged period.

Clear fluids pass through the stomach faster than food. A clear fluid is a fluid you can see through. It must not contain food, fibre or fat. Milk or formula is not a clear fluid. An example of a clear fluid is water, clear apple juice or other clear fruit drinks, lemonade and cordial.

Clear fluids can be given closer to the time of the operation or procedure. They will keep your child from becoming too dehydrated.

  • Lollies and chewing gum are considered food.
  • Thickeners are considered food.

The amount of clear fluids to be given to your child at their last drink before the procedure is worked out according to their weight in kilograms (kg) multiplied by 10 millilitres (ml) of fluid. For example:

If your child weighs 12kg: 12kg x 10ml = 120ml
If your child weighs 30kg: 30kg x 10ml = 300ml

These instructions must be followed. If they are not followed, your child’s procedure may be delayed or postponed to another day.

Babies (six months and under)

7 am – Give your baby their usual breakfast before 7am.
No food can be given after 7am.

9am – Give your baby a bottle or breast feed. Please do not add thickeners.
This will be your baby’s last milk feed before surgery.

11am – Give your baby a drink of clear fluids before 11am.
Your baby must have nothing to eat or drink after 11am.

For babies and children older than six months

7 am – Please give your baby or child a light breakfast before 7am This should not include fatty foods.
No food or drink after 7am.

11am – Your child can sip clear fluids until 11 am. Give your child their last clear fluid drink according to their weight by 11 am.
Your child must have nothing to eat or drink after 11am.

On the night before surgery, your child should eat as usual, including an evening meal and pre-bed snack if desired.


Please continue your child’s usual medications including those that normally would be taken on the day of surgery, unless told otherwise. Take liquid medicines as usual and tablets can be taken with a sip of water, when fasting. Please let your anaesthetist know what medications your child has had including herbal medicines or supplements.

If your child is having ear, nose, throat or eye surgery, please do not give your child Nurofen®/ibuprofen in the 72hrs before surgery.

Please stop fish oils and garlic supplements within one week of surgery.

Your surgical team will provide you with information specific to aspirin if your child takes this regularly, otherwise, please avoid for 14 days before surgery.

No smoking

Please avoid smoking around your child in the days before an operation. Smoking can increase the risk of breathing issues during and after an anaesthetic.


It is important that your child is clean before arriving for surgery to help minimise the risk of infection.

  • Please bathe your child on the morning of or the night before their surgery.
  • Please clean their feet and nails.
  • Please wash their hair and check for head lice. If you find head lice, please treat them before coming to hospital. Head lice treatments are available at chemists.
  • Please check your child’s skin for any infections

What to wear

  • Dress your child in warm, clean loose-fitting clothing ideally with no metal fasteners or zips. (e.g tracksuit, T-shirt, pyjamas)

What to bring

For you

  • List of medications/ puffers your child is taking
  • Any relevant doctor’s letters.
  • Relevant X-ray/ pathology results
  • Medicare card.
  • Health insurance details.
  • Change of clothes, toiletries, food and a book/entertainment for yourself.
  • Your mobile phone (please ensure it is fully charged).

For your child

  • Change of pyjamas, casual clothes and underwear.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Favourite, toy, book, colouring pencils or games
  • Any special formula or foods your child may require
  • Any special equipment your child may need (e.g. a gastrostomy connection, non-invasive ventilation machine)

For your baby

  • Warm clothes (including socks)
  • Favourite toy and familiar objects
  • Nappy bag
  • Special teats or formula
  • Any other special dietary items

Note: Disposable teats and ready- made formula (S26 and Karicare) are supplied at the hospital.

Travelling home after surgery

Plan ahead for your journey home. You may need help with your child, especially if you are travelling long distances or by public transport. The motion of travel may cause your child to feel sick or dizzy. If you are travelling by car, we recommend you arrange for two adults to travel with your child. This allows one parent/carer to drive while the other sits beside your child.

Contact us

Please contact us if:

  • Your child is sick – if your child is unwell, with fevers, active diarrhoea, wheezing, or vomiting. Please check with your local GP for an opinion regarding your child’s fitness for anaesthesia and surgery if you are concerned.
  • You want to cancel a booking.
  • Your contact details change.

Surgical Admissions Lounge
Level 4, Queensland Children’s Hospital
501 Stanley Street,
South Brisbane 4101

t: 07 3068 1125 (Bookings office – 7am to 5pm weekdays)
t: 07 3068 4440 (Nurse Manager)
t: 07 3068 1790 (Surgical Admissions Lounge) Call this number if running late on the day of your child’s surgery.

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Resource No: FS106. Developed by Anaesthetics Department. Updated: February 2016. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.

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