EEG (Electroencephalogram)

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The electroencephalogram (e-LEK-tro-en-SEF-ah-lo-gram), or EEG, is a test that records the brain's electrical activity or brain waves.

How to Prepare for the Test

  • Explain to your child what will happen during the test in a way that they can understand. The technician will do this also.
  • Do not give your child coffee, tea, soda pop, chocolate, or high sugar foods the day of the test. These stimulants can keep your child from relaxing.
  • Shampoo and thoroughly dry your child's hair the night before the test.
  • Do not use any hair products, including hairspray, hair gel, conditioner, or oil. These products may prevent good contact between the electrodes and skin.
  • Comb and brush the hair neatly. If the child's hair is long, put it into a loos ponytail and remove tangles.
  • Give your child their prescribed medicine unless their doctor tells you not to.
  • Be sure to bring whatever your child likes to sleep with (such as a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, pacifier or bottle).
  • Do not let your child sleep in the car or on the bus on the way to the test. They will need to sleep for about 10 to 15 minutes during the test.
  • Bring things that your child likes to sleep with, such as a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or pacifier.

How the EEG Is Done

A technician will talk to your child about how the test is done. You can stay with your child from start to finish.

The test takes 1.5 to 2 hours. That includes hookup time and 30 to 40 minutes of recording.

During the test, your child will not be sedated (given medicine to make them sleepy). They will need to lie still, relax, and take a short nap. Babies may be wrapped snugly in blankets or placed on a papoose board. A papoose board is used for young children to keep them from rolling around on the bed or pulling on the wires.

  • The technician will gently clean several places on your child's scalp with a Q-tip® and mild cleanser. Next, they will put a small, round disk (called electrode) at each site and glue it to the scalp. The glue is gently blown dry with a hand-held dryer. The dryer makes a sound like a hair dryer at home. Each disk is filled with a paste which makes contact between the scalp and the disk.child having an EEG
  • A wire from each disk is then attached to the computer (Picture 1). This lets the computer record the brain's electrical activity.
  • When the test is done, the technician will remove the electrodes and wash the glue off. Your child's skin may be slightly pink from the procedure.
  • Your child can shampoo and condition their hair when they get home.


A neurologist (specialist in brain medicine) will read the EEG. The EEG report will then be sent to the physician who referred your child for testing. The referring physician will discuss the results with you.  
If you have any questions, ask your doctor or technician or call the Nationwide Children's Hospital Neurodiagnostic Services at (614) 722-8805.
HH-III-5 10/76, Revised 2020 Copyright, Nationwide Children’s Hospital