EEG in Children

What is EEG?

An EEG is a test which measures the electrical activity in the brain and used to find problems this electrical activity. It is most commonly used in patients with seizures or epilepsy.

An EEG records brain wave patterns. Small metal discs with thin wires (electrodes) are placed on the scalp, and then send signals to a computer to record the results. There are recognizable normal electrical patterns in brain. An EEG can show abnormal patterns that indicate seizures or other brain problems.

Why is an EEG done in children?

Most EEGs are done to diagnose and monitor seizure disorders or epilepsy.

EEGs may be done in children with developmental delays, abnormal movements or loss of consciousness. EEGs also can identify causes of other problems, such as sleep disorders and changes in behaviour. They’re sometimes used to evaluate brain activity in some conditions, such as after a severe head injury.

Preparation for EEG

  • In an age-appropriate and reassuring manner, explain the test to your child and why it is being done.
  • Wash your child’s hair the night before. Your child’s hair should be clean and free of oils, sprays, and conditioner to help the electrodes stick to the scalp. If your child’s hair is long, don’t braid it or put it up.
  • There may be specific instructions regarding medication and food. Please confirm with your doctor.
  • Follow instructions about when your child can eat before the procedure.
  • Follow instructions about keeping your child awake the night before if your child needs to be sleepy during the test. If it’s necessary for your child to sleep during the EEG, the doctor will suggest ways to help make this easier.
  • It’s often recommended that kids not have caffeine up to 8 hours before the test. 

The Procedure

An EEG can be done in the doctor’s office or a hospital.

Child will be asked to lie on a bed or smaller babies can be in mothers lap.

Older children can be awake during the test, younger children should be asleep.

EEG technician attaches electrodes to different locations on the scalp using adhesive paste. Each electrode is connected to an amplifier and EEG recording machine.

The electrical signals from the brain are converted into wavy lines on a computer screen.

Child will be asked to lie still because movement can change the results.

Child may be asked to look at a bright flickering light or breathe a certain way.

Sometimes a video EEG may be done, where a video camera is run along with the EEG to identify the seizure type and correlate with the EEG.

EEG may take from half hour to one hour, or sometimes more. Parents/caretakers can stay with the child during the test.

An EEG isn’t uncomfortable, and patients do not feel any shocks on the scalp or elsewhere. Still, having electrodes pasted to the scalp and lying still can be a little stressful for children.

After the EEG

Once the test is done, the technologist removes the electrodes. Some glue is removed with warm water and cotton. You may need to wash your child’s hair at home. Child can return to normal routine after the test. If medication was used to make the child sleep, it may take a few hours for the effect to wear off.

Getting the Results

Your paediatric neurologist will review the EEG and give the results. Discuss with your doctor regarding when the results will be available.


EEGs is a safe procedure. Sometimes, a seizure may be triggered during the EEG.