Hospitals can be scary places, even for most adults, so it is easy to understand why antiseptic smells, IV poles, and other medical equipment would frighten a toddler or school-aged child. Whether your child needs a simple medical procedure or more invasive surgery, you can take several steps to assuage your own fears and your child's.

It is important that parents understand what to expect throughout the process, starting with the procedure and why it needs to be done, according to Maria Spear, child life specialist at Shore Memorial Hospital in New Jersey.

Experts agree that parents need to have a thorough understanding of what will happen to their child before, during, and after surgery.

"A less anxious parent often means a less anxious child," says Joneen Corrao, child life director at Miami Children's Hospital. "Arranging presurgical orientation is beneficial for both children and parents because they are able to see, feel, and touch medical tools in a nonthreatening environment."