10 Tonsillectomy Tips and Tidbits


Only a few short months ago, my brave five-year-old daughter endured a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. Thanks to tonsils that touched, snoring, apnea, and an overheating issue, the time arrived for her to have those “friends” removed from operation.

We received heaps of paperwork, online links, and quality information from our medical team. This information was disseminated in phases: surgery prep and then after care. In retrospect, I truly believe this was the best approach – to only receive the info you needed for that stage of the process – although I was itching for all the facts and some of the maybes well in advance of the procedure.

The Doctor's Orders

It goes without saying that you should follow the doctor’s advice. The guidelines for food intake, medications, warning signs of infection, and so forth are incredibly valuable and are key to the success of your child’s recovery.

But there are a few tidbits outside of the medical facts and figures presented to us that served me, and my daughter, well. I, of course, polled my Facebook friends for insight from other mothers who walked this path before me. The advice I received was worth its weight in gold and helped the days of recovery move along smoother for my little love and me.

The advice I received was worth its weight in gold and helped the days of recovery move along smoother for my little love and me.

My 10 Tips For Surviving A Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy:

  1. Breaking the news. You know your child best. Does he or she need time to process the impending surgery? Or will he or she fare better with little warning? Think through this as a parent; your gut will likely guide you in the right direction. In our case, we did not tell our daughter about the surgery until two days before because we knew she was prone to worry and anxiety. It gave us time to answer her questions without letting her mind mull over it for too long.
  2. Your kiddo will not be able to eat before surgery, and eating after surgery is, well, tricky. So, take full advantage of eating while your child is in surgery. But eat quick! The surgery takes 30 minutes or less. Consider pre-planning what and where you will eat. You will need the nutrients as recovery can be intense and long.
  3. Surgery starts are, uh, flexible. The surgery may be set for 8:00 a.m., but may not start until much later. That was the case with us. The main surgeon ran behind on her surgeries, creating a domino effect. Our typical one-hour surgery prep time turned into 2.5 hours. I wish I had packed a more thorough pre-op goodie bag of books, games, easy art activities, etc. I only had a favorite stuffed animal and the goodness of Disney Jr. to get us through.
  4. The doctors will prepare you for post-op. Kids are very sleepy and drugged. There will be moaning and tears, and maybe some vomit. All of this I was prepared for. However, I wasn’t prepared for the lasting effects of the drugs after we got home. Our daughter was oddly hyper, almost like drunken antics; she also had super hero leanings, thinking she could jump off the couch. Uh, no thanks. We had to remind her over and over to sit on the couch, relax, and not get too busy. Later that evening in the bath, she almost fainted from standing up too soon. Keep an eye on those kiddos when they walk and move around for the 24 hours after surgery because they don’t have all their wits about them yet.
  5. Eat whatever whenever. Your doctor will tell you this. You will tell yourself this. But the mama instinct cringes a bit when you dole out the 10th bowl of ice cream. My advice? Do it. Let your child eat whatever whenever. You can worry about a balanced diet in a few days. My daughter favored ice cream and chocolate milkshakes and (believe it or not) “cheese salads,” where we mixed up shredded, blue, and feta cheeses. That is what she lived on for days. When she wanted to try something more substantial, we let her. Often she realized that wasn’t a good idea, but we supported her trying. It took three full weeks before she ate normally, so give them grace through recovery.
  6. Don’t sleep alone. The first few nights are uncomfortable; your kiddo will need pain medication every four hours. I didn’t want my gal to attempt a yell (which she could not have mustered) over the monitor when she was in pain or needed something. My husband or I (and even Mimi once) slept with her for four or five nights until she was more comfortable and not needing medication so often. This also helps the other parent get good rest so he or she can be more alert to help the next day.
  7. Easy does it. Be easy going about food, easy going about sleep habits, but do not be easy going about resting. My daughter wanted to extend too much energy in playing too soon. Reminders about quiet play and “easy does it” go a long way in helping little bodies recover from surgery.
  8. Day 7-10 will get ya. Your doctor will say this; friends will say this. Each child reacts differently, recovers differently. Some endure really bad pain; others do not seem to struggle as much. Some vomit and have bloody noses; others do not. On the spectrum of difficult recoveries, my daughter did really well. She surprised us with her toughness and bravery. With that said, days 7-10, when you think you are out of the woods, can end up being the worst as the scabs begin to loosen and detach. Our daughter had quite a bit of deferred ear pain during this time.
  9. Make a recovery goodie box. Stock up on library books and movies. Raid the dollar store for cheap craft supplies and novelity toys. These new quiet play toys make recovery bearable!
  10. Get help from others. The days after surgery can be intense. Your child will be very needy. Give yourself a break. Ask for help. Invite family or friends to watch your other children. Allow your work or church community to provide meals. My in-laws kindly stayed with us for several days after surgery to care for my infant, allow my husband to work, and allow me to focus on my eldest daughter.

How many of you have survived the tonsillectomy in your house? Any tips to add to the list?

Meet the Author


Emily started her career in the publishing industry in 1999, working on curriculum, magazines, books, and newspapers in the time since. She first became involved with Fort Worth Moms in 2013 as a writer. She became the managing editor in 2014. Twelve months later, she became the sole owner of Fort Worth Moms. She is also the host and founder of Momfessions Podcast. In 2014, she co-authored and released Legendary Locals of Fort Worth. She has also co-written a Bible study, Grace in the Empty Spaces. In 2022, she acquired Collin County Moms and Dallas Moms, creating the Beal Media publishing group. She also enjoys gardening, naps, and drinkig Dr. Pepper.