Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Learning About Sedation (Including MAC) in Children

Main Content

Learning About Sedation (Including MAC) in Children

What is sedation in children?

Sedation is the use of medicine to help your child relax or fall asleep during a procedure. Depending on why your child is getting sedation, they may also get numbing medicine.

How is it done?

The sedative medicine may be given by mouth, in the nose with drops or a mist, or in a vein (by I.V.). Your child will be watched closely while they're sedated. A doctor or nurse will make sure that your child stays safe and gets just the right amount of sedative.

How do you prepare?

You'll get instructions to help you prepare for your child's sedation. They'll tell you when your child needs to stop eating, drinking, or breastfeeding before sedation. If your child takes medicine, you'll be told what they can or can't take. Follow all the instructions carefully.

Talk to your child in advance about the test, procedure, or surgery they're having. It can be helpful to explain where they will be and what they might see, hear, or feel.

Make sure your child will have plenty of quiet time at home to recover.

What are the risks?

Serious problems are rare. They include breathing that slows or stops and an allergic reaction to the medicine. Some things increase a child's risk of problems. They include being younger than 6 or having a developmental disability. Some medical conditions like obesity, sleep apnea, large tonsils, and major health issues also can raise risk.

What can you expect afterward?

Your child may be unsteady after having sedation. An older child may have trouble walking. A baby may be unsteady when sitting or crawling. It takes time (sometimes a few hours) for the medicine effects to wear off.

After sedation, it's common for children to feel sleepy. A baby might sleep more than usual or be hard to wake up. The doctors and nurses will make sure that your child isn't too sleepy to go home.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter E456 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About Sedation (Including MAC) in Children".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.