Perioperative Care Coordination Clinic (PCCC) | Patient Resources

Your Guide to Eating and Drinking Before a Surgery or Procedure (NPO)

NPO_brochure_English (Printable PDF) 

Before a surgery/procedure, eating and drinking are not allowed for certain periods of time. Follow these directions carefully to prepare your child. If your child eats or drinks after the indicated time, the surgery/procedure may be cancelled.

  • At Midnight before the surgery/procedure - stop eating solid foods, including: candy, gum, non-human milk (cow, soy, etc.), thickened formulas including commercial ones such as AR (which is added rice).
  • 6 hours before surgery/procedure - stop drinking formula for children under 12 months of age.
  • 4 hours before surgery/procedure - stop drinking breast milk.
  • 2 hours before surgery/procedure - stop drinking clear liquids.
  • G-tube formula feeding should be stopped by midnight. (Children under 1 year of age may continue G-tube formula feeding until 6 hours prior to the surgery/procedure).

Clear liquids include: water, apple juice, Pedialyte. No carbonated beverages should be consumed from midnight the day before surgery/ procedure.  


Other important guidelines for the day of surgery

  • Plan to arrive at Boston Children’s Hospital 3rd floor main building 90 minutes before the surgery is scheduled. No food or drinks are allowed in pre-operative holding areas.
  • Please bring in all medication bottles, and/or pharmacy receipts, so medication doses can be verified.
  • All female patients over 12 years old and/or who have started menstruating will need to give a urine sample on the day of surgery/procedure for required pregnancy testing.
  • Consents for surgery/procedure must be signed by the child’s parent or legal guardian if under age 18 or if patient is over 18 and is unable/not competent to consent.
  • All jewelry (including body piercing) and all nail polish must be removed.
  • Please remove your contact lenses and bring glasses.
  • We strongly discourage siblings coming to the hospital on the day of surgery/procedure.
  • Plan on leaving the hospital by 11 am on the day of discharge. Please be sure that all arrangements (transportation, work schedules, child care needs) have been made to allow for a morning discharge.
  • Please call the PCCC at 617-355-3765 with any questions.

Special Considerations

Herbal remedies

If your child is taking (or may have recently taken) any herbal therapy or natural remedy (such as St. John's Wort) or any weight-reduction medications, please notify the nurse, nurse practitioner or physician during your PCCC preoperative appointment. Some of these herbs and medications can interact with drugs used during anesthesia.


Also, if your child has any body piercing that cannot be seen, please let the nurse, nurse practitioners and physicians know. All metallic objects must be removed prior to surgery and anesthesia.

Antibiotic resistant organisms & communicable diseases

In order to protect your child and other patients, please notify the PCCC prior to your appointment if your child needs special precautions for antibiotic resistant organisms (an infection that does not go away with antibiotics). We would also like to be notified if your child either has or has been exposed to a communicable disease. Please call 617-355-3773 and ask to speak to a nurse to discuss these situations. 

Family Education Sheets

Getting Ready for Your Child's Hospital Experience

Preparing Your Child for a Hospital Stay or Procedure

What to Expect When Your Child is ADMITTED to Boston Children's Hospital

Books to Help Prepare Patients and Families for a Hospital Stay or Doctor's Visit

Helping Siblings Cope with Your Child's Illness

Going Home after a Hospital Stay or Procedure