Skip to Content

Moderate Sedation In Children


Moderate sedation

is medicine given during a procedure or treatment to help your child feel relaxed and calm. It may also be given to help decrease your child's movement during a procedure or treatment. The medicine may be given as a pill, shot, inhaled solution, or injection through an IV. Your child will be awake and able to follow directions. Moderate sedation can be used for procedures such as wound repair, fracture reduction, or a lumbar puncture.

How to prepare your child for moderate sedation:

Your child's healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare your child for moderate sedation. He may tell you not to give your child anything to eat or drink for 8 hours before moderate sedation. You can breastfeed your child up until 4 hours before moderate sedation. You can give your child clear liquids up until 2 hours before moderate sedation. Tell your child's healthcare provider if he or she or she has any allergies, breathing problems, or heart problems. Bring another adult with you on the ride home to monitor your child for problems after sedation. A second adult can ride with your child in the backseat while you drive.

What will happen during moderate sedation:

A healthcare provider may place an IV in your child's arm or hand. Your child's healthcare provider will give your child enough medicine to keep him or her relaxed and calm. Your child's heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing with be closely monitored.

What will happen after moderate sedation:

  • Healthcare providers will monitor your child until he or she is awake. Your child may need extra oxygen if his or her blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. Ask your child's healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing. As your child wakes up, he or she may cry or have difficulty getting comfortable. This is normal after moderate sedation. Speak in a quiet, calm voice to your child to help him or her relax. Your child may be able to go home after he or she is alert, can sit up, and talk appropriately for his or her age. This may take 1 to 2 hours after your child has received moderate sedation.
  • Your child may be sleepy and need frequent naps after he or she goes home. Your child may be restless until the medicine is completely out of his or her system. Your child may also have a headache or nausea, or your child may vomit. You may notice that your child has problems with short-term memory for a day or two after moderate sedation.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child cannot be woken.
  • Your child has trouble breathing.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child complains of a severe headache or dizziness, or cries constantly.
  • Your child's heart is beating faster than usual.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever or chills.
  • Your child has nausea or is vomiting for longer than 8 hours after the procedure.
  • Your child's skin is itchy, swollen, or he or she has a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Care for your child:

  • Give your child plenty of liquids to help flush the medicine out of his or her body. Ask how much liquid to give your child and which liquids are best for him or her.
  • Give your child small, frequent meals to prevent nausea and vomiting from the medicine. Start with clear liquids such as cranberry juice or ginger-ale. If your child does okay with clear liquids, start giving your child his or her usual foods.
  • Limit your child's activity to prevent accidents. After moderate sedation, your child may feel lightheaded and unsteady on his or her feet. Do not leave your child alone. Have your child lie on the couch or rest quietly until the day after the procedure. Walk with your child to the bathroom. Your child should not play sports or do vigorous activity after moderate sedation. Your child may be able to return to his or her normal activities in 24 hours.

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

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

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.