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Do Infants Get Put to Sleep When They Are Circumcised?

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated June 13, 2017

Infant circumcision can be a challenging procedure for parents to anticipate. Although it isn’t pleasant to contemplate your newborn baby enduring an uncomfortable medical procedure, physicians have extensive experience performing circumcisions on newborn baby boys. Before your baby is circumcised, it may help to learn about the process, including the most common methods of pain management.

Circumcision involves the surgical removal of foreskin from the tip of a newborn baby’s penis. Generally, a physician performs a circumcision on a baby during the first or second day after birth. The most common complications from circumcision are bleeding and infection, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

AAP Recommendations

Because the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks -- but the benefits are not significant enough to warrant routine circumcision of all newborns -- the AAP believes that all parents should have the option of circumcising. Parents have the choice to proceed with circumcision based on cultural, religious and ethical values. Due to pain and discomfort involved in circumcision, the AAP recommends appropriate pain management during the procedure.


Approximately two hours prior to the procedure, the American Society for Pain Management Nursing recommends giving the infant acetaminophen in anticipation of pain. During the procedure, the baby remains awake. He is undressed from the waist down and placed in a special restraining tray to prevent him from moving. Health care providers apply a topical anesthetic cream prior to the procedure to enable numbing to begin.

Pain Management

A common technique for calming a newborn baby involves the use of sugar water, according to The Ohio State University Medical Center. By administering this mixture or sucrose prior to and during the circumcision, a baby often becomes calm and may be more comfortable during a painful procedure. Usually, professionals dip a pacifier into the sucrose mixture and allow the baby to suck the pacifier. After the topical anesthetic cream takes effect, the physician may also inject an anesthetic to numb the penis before the procedure, states the Oregon Health & Science University. After the circumcision, soothing the baby, feeding him and continuing to give acetaminophen for 24 hours should allow him to recover quickly.

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