Moderate Sedation In Children


Moderate sedation uses medicine to keep your child calm, reduce pain, and limit movement while your child gets medical care. Your child can still breathe without help during moderate sedation.



Your child may have any of the following:

  • Pain medicine: Your child may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you give your child his medicine.

  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: These medicines are available without a doctor's order. They may decrease your child's pain and fever. Ask how much medicine your child needs and how often to give it.

  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your child's stomach and control vomiting (throwing up).

  • Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not helping or if he has side effects. Tell your child's healthcare provider if your child takes any vitamins, herbs, or other medicines. Keep a list of the medicines he takes. Include the amounts, and when and why he takes them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits.

  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

Watch your child:

Have an adult sit next to your child in his car seat during his ride home. Watch your child while he rests or sleeps at home. You need to be near your child in case he vomits or has trouble breathing. You may need to help him walk.

IV site care:

Keep the IV puncture site clean and dry. Cover it with a clean bandage and change it when it gets wet or dirty. Clean the site with soap and water. Pat the area dry with a clean towel.

Eating and drinking:

Do not give your child anything to eat or drink for 2 hours after your child goes home. If your baby wants to eat before 2 hours pass, give him half of his normal feeding.

Bathing or swimming:

Do not let your child bathe or swim without adult help for 8 hours.

Limit activities:

Do not allow active play, such as bike rides or climbing, until the next day. Do not leave your child alone while he plays. Your child should not cook without help until the next day. Do not let your older child drive a car or other vehicle until the next day.

Contact your child's primary healthcare provider if:

  • Your child's pain is worse, even with medicine.

  • You see the skin between your child's ribs pull in as he breathes.

  • You hear a sound as your child breathes like a snore, whistle, rattle, or wheeze.

  • Your child has nausea or vomiting that keeps him from eating or drinking.

  • You have questions about your child's condition or care.

Return to the emergency department or call 911 if:

  • Your child has a seizure.

  • Your child cannot talk, move, or see normally within a few hours of the procedure.

  • Your child looks blue or gray or has stopped breathing.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Moderate Sedation In Children (Aftercare Instructions)