What are the best foods/care for tonsillectomy?

My 11-year old is having her super gigantic tonsils out on Friday so I wanted to get all of your best care advice for her.

What are the best foods to serve? And for how long? (The doctor says it hurts like crazy about a week out because of the healing.)

When is it the most painful?

Did you keep them in bed or just not let them be active? (The doctor says no physical activity or traveling for two weeks.)

How can we make her the most comfortable?

What was the worst part of the surgery? Rose is worried about the IV. I am worried about the ventilator.

Tell me your tips to help her heal and keep her happy during and after the surgery.

37 comments Add your comment


June 22nd, 2012
4:38 am

I have no personal experience with this, but when I worked for a major ice cream chain we were told to recommend ices over ice creams and even sherbets because the latter two contained milk. I’m not sure if the thinking was that dairy itself coated the throat and could make one cough, or if dairy triggered mucous production which led to increased coughing and/or swallowing.

This was a while ago, so please update if you have more recent info.

Good luck, TWG, and your DD, too.


June 22nd, 2012
6:39 am

Lots and lots and lots of liquid…..some juices can irritate…..cold jello is also good…

library volunteer

June 22nd, 2012
6:51 am

All I know is that any surgery can’t be taken lightly. The pain will be more intense than anything you can imagine for your child, likely more than anything she has ever experienced. Just be prepared for lots of snuggling, hugging, singing, or whatever to comfort her through the pain. You should definitely have some other plans lined up for the other kids. You will have no time/energy for them.


June 22nd, 2012
7:15 am

My daughter had her tonsils out at 8 and it was the best thing we ever did. She was missing a week of school a month because of throat infections – post surgery she had perfect attendance and was so much happier. That’s the good news. Recovery was painful – she only had one or two really hard days (5 and 6 if I recall). She sat in front of the TV for a week, drank sips of gatorade or water, and ate all the ice cream she wanted. She also enjoyed smoothies with non-citrus fruits. Keeping her hydrated really is the most important piece. My daughter ate no solid foods for about a week – which was troublesome but common. Again, hydrate. My daughter hates to take medication so she didn’t take any pain killers – much to my disappointment. Also, before surgery they offered her what the nurse called “silly juice” to make her relax. She didn’t take it and went back to surgery sitting up on the gurney. She insisted on putting the mask on her face, which they allowed and she went right to sleep. She came out of the anesthesia easily – and the nurse told us that is often the case for kids who do not take the silly juice stuff. The IV wasn’t a big deal – she turned her head and the nurse was very gentle and put plenty of the spray stuff on beforehand that numbs the area. My daughter loved all of the slushy flavors they offered her post surgery. We had the best experience possible at Scottish Rite. Good luck!


June 22nd, 2012
7:36 am

I agree with the previous posters. Liquids at first then move to soft foods. DD didn’t get dairy for the first two days due to mucus production. Popsicles, sorbet, lots of water. Your daughter will probably get tired of the liquids. The nurses will be a good source of info – how long on liquids, when to move to soft foods, etc. DD took it easy for a week – no running around, no PE at school.

The T&A was the best thing for my DD. She had her surgery at the beginning of 4th grade and did not have another sick day through middle school. Best wishes to the whole family.


June 22nd, 2012
7:42 am

POPSICLES (LOTS AND LOTS); jello; ice cream, soft mushy foods.

She can have physical activity when she feels like it. It’s her body and it will let her know when it’s feeling better. I would limit the physical activity for the first few days she is feeling better.

Voice of Reason

June 22nd, 2012
8:38 am

While I never had my tonsils out, I did have my wisdom teeth removed and for some reason I had this strange craving for grits……The only time in my life when I can remember ever actually wanting to eat grits.

Dr Mom

June 22nd, 2012
8:58 am

Had my own Tonsil & Adnoidectomy last Spring. It hurts for weeks to swallow even the softest of foods. Popsicles are great, but the 1st week even the intense cold of ice hurt. Protein shakes that are cold worked really well.


June 22nd, 2012
9:02 am

Make sure you follow the doctor’s instructions about pain medication after the procedure to manage her pain. It is better to take it as directed than wait until the pain is bad and attempt to treat it. Makes the management inconsistent. Make sure you understand step-down instructions (ie, moving from codeine to regular Tylenol or ibuprofen when the worst pain is over).

Monitor for post-op fever and be prepared for GI issues if that’s what she normally gets with antibiotics (is she getting antibiotics via IV during the procedure? Does she have to take them for a few days afterward?).

Have the phone number to a 24-hour pharmacy handy just in case you have questions about anything. Pharmacists are very helpful and accessible.

You might want to get a shaved ice maker, if you don’t have one, that you can use to make her snow cones. I promise you will get lots of use out of it after this ordeal.

Best of luck. I hope she feels better soon.


June 22nd, 2012
9:30 am

Liquid is more important then food the first few days, so push that. Like even really sugary icees b/c they are high in calories. Refrain from milk for a day or two if you can. I kinda let me son lead. On day 3 DS wanted scrambled eggs, so he got scrambled eggs. When he said he wanted a milk shake then I let him try a milk shake. If he wanted to try something I let him.

Have her sleep with a humidifier to keep it from drying out so badly at night. It helped a lot. Do the good pain meds for the first day or two, and then alternate with Tylenol. Good luck


June 22nd, 2012
11:14 am

1/2 popsicle microwaved in coffee cup for 20 minutes (to soften) then add 1/2 c. of sprite to make a slushy. Good luck!


June 22nd, 2012
11:37 am

Lots of thoughts going to you, Michael, and Rose. Any time you know your child is in pain and there is little you can do is hard.

I agree with others. Just let Rose guide you. If the pain meds are really good all she is going to want to do (and it will be good for her) is sleep for the first bit anyway. Maybe Walsh and Lili can take turns reading her a story or playing a game with her so she doesn’t feel left out of things? When she feels up to doing more, think of things to do (like make a pretty card to send to Grandma) that keep her in a rested state, but still let her do stuff….Oh and some new DS games (if she has one) or Videos would probably be welcomed too.

When my wisdom teeth came out all I drank after day two was cold boiled custard. Think melted ice cream.

Dozen egg yolks that are frothed, 1 quart half and half, 1 pint heavy whipping cream, and a gallon of full fat milk, tsp vanilla and salt…..You bring the milk up to simmer, temper the eggs and add back to milk, add half and half and bring up to a boil (actually i do mine low and slow until it is thick enough to coat a spoon). Remove from heat and cool 5 min. Add the whipping cream, vanilla and salt, stir well….Let it cool so it is easy to handle and pour into a large pitcher (or even move some to the ice cream maker!!)….chill overnight.


June 22nd, 2012
12:22 pm

I feel for you!! I had my tonsils out in 9th grade. Worst 2 weeks of my life. I would have been fine with just the tonsils and adenoids, but, I also had a cyst removed and thank goodness it was benign. Anyway, my throat hurt, but, I ate lots of sherbet(I don’t like ice cream) and drank lots of water. By the second week I was eating soup and soft boiled eggs. Pain meds can be helpful…I don’t remember taking them, although I’m sure I did. I was even able to go on the marching band trip during the week of Thanksgiving(3 weeks later) and did fine. I had most of my strength back and the school nurse was with us as a chaperone. My son has been through many, many surgeries and he always had a problem with the anesthesia until his last surgery. The anesthesiologist talked him into using the mask for a whiff of the gas before they did the iv this time. He did and he had no problems with waking up or nausea. I agree with SBY, Scottish Rite was THE best with every surgery he had. So, lots of liquids and rest. Good luck and God speed!!!


June 22nd, 2012
12:26 pm

Popsicles, ice cream, whatever. I can’t imagine the poor kids that had their tonsils removed prior to the invention of the shaved ice machine.


June 22nd, 2012
12:27 pm

Sending positive vibes your way. Surgery is a scary thing at any age. Will this be Rose’s first surgery?

I’ll second the poster who recommended cold protein shakes (watered down a little). Those are a great way to supplement the fact that she’ll probably be living on liquids for a week or more. Do be cautious of certain fruit juices though – anything highly acidic (cranberry, citrus drinks) can aggravate her throat. Carbonation can also do the same. Applesauces and pureed (super pureed) fruits and veggies (again avoiding highly acidic ones) are good too a few days post-op. Lots of water / gatorade / pedialyte. It’s super easy to get dehydrated and that can impede healing, make the pain worse.

The first couple of days she’ll probably just want to sleep (mostly because of the pain meds), so she probably won’t eat much. She’ll need lots of hugs and snuggles and especially the first few days post-op you’ll want to make sure the other kids don’t bother her too much and let her rest. Once she starts feeling a little better, she can probably do some light arts and crafts stuff – that might help her feel like she isn’t missing too much of what’s going on around her. A stack of new books from the library would probably be welcome – that would be something she could do that still keeps her resting.

I hope the surgery and recovery goes well though. The healing process for tonsils is a bumpy one. When my son had his out at age 7, he felt bad / sleepy the first two days post-op, then he felt a lot better and it was hard to keep him resting, but then about 5-6 days post-op he felt absolutely miserable from the pain. Just hang in there.


June 22nd, 2012
12:29 pm

This may be too late if the surgery is today, but…find a sitter for the other two or send them (long distance) to grandma’s house. Give Rose all your attention for the next week. She will do fine, but you cannot balance her needs with the other two this time.


June 22nd, 2012
12:33 pm

Oh, and I wanted to say, in terms of the IV, that was my son’s biggest fear going into his surgery, but our doctors were great and gave him something that made him a little loopy before heading back to surgery (I’m blanking on what exactly it was at the moment), then they put the mask on him and knocked him out before putting in the IV so he never felt it. Hopefully they’ll do something similar for Rose so she won’t have to worry,


June 22nd, 2012
12:53 pm

Diane @11:14 – I think you meant to say 20 seconds to soften, not 20 minutes. 20 minutes would produce molten lava pop :-)


June 22nd, 2012
1:05 pm

@ TWG…no personal experience on this one. I had mine out when I was five but my kids did not. Your family is in my prayers.

catlady…I think I lost your phone number…will you give me a call or e-mail me?


June 22nd, 2012
1:16 pm

First of all, don’t worry. Keep her hydrated. Keep on top of the pain meds.

Other than that, she’s young and she’ll bounce back very easily. Quit being such a worrywart. She’ll be fine.


June 22nd, 2012
1:41 pm

I had my tonsils out as an adult and my body transfered the pain to my ears. I was pretty uncomfortable and surprised at my ears being impacted. I found anything too thick (ice cream, mashed pototoes, etc.) was too hard to swallow and I could not eat them for the first week or two. Italian ice and things like that were much easier to swallow. Anything too cold also hurt. On the bright side, I went from having strep throat and/tonsilitis every 3 weeks to not having a throat issue in 24 years.


June 22nd, 2012
2:22 pm

Scotty: the medicine before surgery is called versed. And, yes, it definitely makes them loopy. We have many great and funny stories from when our son had all his surgeries and was given versed.

Em's mom

June 22nd, 2012
2:59 pm

My adult daughter had her tonsils removed recently. Initially, the best thing was a flavored ice pop. They even gave her one at the surgery center right after the procedure. Also, have your daughter sip on ice water all the time. The throat hurts more when it’s dry. After a couple of days ramen noodles and Mac and cheese tasted good to my daughter. Good for you to be getting them out while she’s still young. We wish we had done that!

Once Again

June 22nd, 2012
3:20 pm

Way too young to remember my tonsilectomy but my mom says I just wanted crushed ice – nothing else.

About 10 years ago I had my uvula removed as part of surgery for sleep apnea (NEVER GET THIS DONE BY THE WAY – it doesn’t work and just gives your surgeon a ton of money and you a ton of pain) and I ate little more than crushed ice and 100% fruit juice frozen pops. No need to make the problem worse with sugar, thick phlegm from ice cream or anything similar. Again, can’t remember what a tonsilectomy felt like, but this pain was like eating crushed broken glass every time I swallowed for 10 days and the pops made it feel SO much better.


June 22nd, 2012
3:50 pm

Once they get tired of ice cream, etc. you can put a Big Mac in a blender and serve it to them with a spoon :) Sounds gross but it will be their best meal they have ever had.

mom of 2

June 22nd, 2012
7:08 pm

My 10 year old daughter had a T/A surgery done about 3 weeks ago. She didn’t seem as in as much pain as I thought she would be. I made sure she took her medicine that first week. She was so used to constant throat pain from strep throat- I think that helped her post-op. I did insist she stay in bed the first few days-she watched lots of movies and read books. Then we stuck to the house and stayed quiet until day 10 or so. She ate lots of ice cream, pudding, yogurt drinks and applesauce. She drank lots of gatorade and flat ginger ale. After a few days she ate mac n cheese. At 2 weeks she seemed fine. They gave her laughing gas before the IV and she remembers nothing of it. Her advice is “relax and it’s over quick and don’t talk right after the surgery” Good luck!

Jesse's Girl

June 22nd, 2012
9:10 pm

Theresa…The Boy had his tonsils and adenoids removed with tubes put in his ears last year. Hands down, the tonsils…or lack of…created more pain and suffering than I have ever witnessed in any of my children. STAY ON TOP OF THE PAIN. Do not let her miss a dose for even a few minutes. Once the pain comes, it is very difficult to get ahead of it. She will be intensely miserable and she won’t want to eat anything. But she will likely be very thirsty. So give her whatever she wants to drink. He loved sweet tea and apple juice. Hope the lil munchkin feels better sooner than soon!

alpharetta mom

June 22nd, 2012
10:00 pm

I have experienced this surgery twice, once as a patient when I was 20 years old and again when my daughter was 4 years old. It is really painful. You should avoid acidic juices and foods. While popsicles sound good, if it is fruit flavored, it may have ascorbic acid which burns the throat too. My daughter enjoyed milk shakes that she spooned instead of sucking through a straw. I did not enjoy anything for a long time. This shouldn’t be a problem for you since your child is young. Don’t be surprised if your child does want all the ice cream he or she can eat.


June 23rd, 2012
10:12 am

Theresa? Can you update us on how Rose is feeling?


June 23rd, 2012
4:01 pm

Days 5-7 will be worse…that is when the scabs usually are coming off….hurts like the dickens and leaves sensitive skin exposed…..definitely try to keep ahead of the pain….


June 23rd, 2012
4:19 pm

I got my tonsils out at 13. Woke up needing to throw up, but was able to tell the nurse, who gave me a shot of Compazine? that made it go away. From the moment they brought me back to my room my mom, who was a nurse, fed me several spoonfuls of ice chips every half hour. A small plastic spoonful of ice chips didn’t hurt to swallow, and the cold kept the inflammation down and was incredibly soothing. My recovery only took a week, and the Dr. said he thought the ice chips were what made the difference. Good luck! :-)


June 24th, 2012
5:52 pm

Ditto to the comments of several other posters… I had mine out 3 years ago at the age of 34. Take the pain meds every 4 hours – don’t let them wear off. Get a shaved ice maker and run the humidifier at night. On day 3 or 4 I did eat soft scrambed eggs and very softly cooked macaroni noodles. And again, don’t let the pain meds wear off. Set a timer and take them as recommended. It wasn’t fun, but if she takes the meds continously and stays hydrated, she’ll be fine. I would do tonsils again in heartbeat rather than recovering from normal childbirth (and stitches) for several weeks… :)


June 24th, 2012
6:22 pm

My son was 5 when he had his T/A surgery and he had a craving for WAFFLES!! It was so funny because he was never a big waffle eater and doesn’t eat them often now (he’s 23). I called the nurse and she said to go ahead. She actually said that a little friction speeds up the healing process. So i made sure they were soft (don’t overcook) and had lots of syrup! We kept on top of the hydration and pain medicine as others have previously mentioned. Good luck on you daughter’s recovery!!


June 24th, 2012
8:20 pm

COLD FOODS, NOT HOT! I had a tonsillectomy at 27 because of repeated episodes of strep. I learned the hard way that you must follow every post-op instruction they give you for as long as they tell you. Here’s why: about five days after my surgery, I went out with a friend and had soup (it was January) for dinner. The soup dissolved the sutures in my throat and I started to bleed a great deal. She took me to Piedmont, where a very lovely Dr. Dockery was on call in the ER. Because I had eaten, he had to cauterize the wounds in my throat without anesthesia. Let’s just say that giving birth was not the worst pain I’ve ever endured, and it made my ruptured appendix seem like a walk in the park.


June 25th, 2012
8:05 am

My receipe forgot the sugar! 4 cups sugar has to melted down so it is not grainy when the eggs are added.


June 25th, 2012
3:58 pm

We did the tonsil scraping, rather than the full removal. Seemed to go much smoother and less of a recovery time. He had a blast what with all the ice cream and jello and ….

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5:31 pm

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