Tips for Surviving Your Child’s Tonsillectomy

This summer hasn’t been the most fun for our five-year-old. After five throat infections within ten months, we made the decision to take his tonsils out. We knew it was coming – not only was he incredibly prone to throat infections like strep and tonsillitis, but it took him longer than most kids to kick it. It was still a hard decision and something both my husband and I were both pretty anxious about.

Now that we are on the other side of a tonsillectomy, I thought I’d share some tips/tricks we learned to help you if your kiddo is facing a tonsillectomy.

1. Set your expectations LOW.  

Some kids bounce back within days like nothing happened, others take over two weeks to fully recover. Our son was in the middle, but we went into it prepared for a solid two weeks of him being out of commission.

Keep in mind that right after surgery, your kiddo will probably seem fine. The pain increases the first few days before it peaks. For us, I think day four was the worst day. Then after that, the pain kind of ebbed and flowed, but we tried to keep him resting as much as possible, even on his good days. (Keeping a five-year-old down when he was feeling semi-normal was one of the hardest parts!)

2. Be prepared to let go of some of your rules/boundaries.

For instance, our son got unlimited screen time during the first few days, he got to sleep with daddy in the guest room and we were much more tolerant of melt-downs. The goal was survival and comfort for him.

3. Run a humidifier.

The biggest risk for a tonsillectomy is post-op bleeding and the scabs drying out increases that risk. Dry scabs are also more painful for kids. Even though it was the middle of summer, we ran a humidifier in every room where our son was and ran it on HIGH at night while he slept. I truly believe this was the thing that helped most with his recovery.

4. Let them eat anything.

I was buying things I swore I’d never feed my kids, like Spaghetti-O’s and ramen. If he wanted ice cream for breakfast, he got it. The goal was to get calories in.

5. Sneak in nutrients.

While the goal was calories, I snuck spinach and kale into smoothies and protein powder into oatmeal.

6. Stay on top of medicine.

Our doctor was a Tylenol-only doctor, but I know other doctors do a rotation of Tylenol and Motrin. So every 4 hours for 10 days, it was Tylenol for our son – even in the middle of the night. Set a timer and don’t forget – I can’t stress this enough!

7. Have some activities/entertainment planned.

Two weeks of being non-active for a kid is hard – both for the kid and the parents! We went shopping before our son’s surgery and bought some special activity books, games, and a few new toys. These also served as bribes to drink his fluids!

8. Stay on top of fluids!

This is another HUGE one. For the first few days, every time he finished his water bottle, he got to choose a new toy out of his stash.

9. Sneak in water-dense food to help with hydration.

Our son LOVES watermelon, so I kept a big tub of very cold watermelon in our fridge for the first week.


Surviving a Tonsillectomy
Surviving a Tonsillectomy

I am crossing my fingers and toes that neither of my other two kids have a tonsillectomy, they are definitely not fun! That being said, I am very glad this is behind us with our oldest. Luckily, he handled it like a champ and hopefully this was the final piece of a series of health challenges for him. (He has also had two sets of tubes, his adenoids removed, mild hearing loss and speech delay/therapy. All another story for another day!)

Has your child had his or her tonsils out?

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