Using nebulizers with children

Using nebulizers with children

Using nebulizers correctly with children is best achieved when your child feels comfortable during their nebulizer treatments and is in a relaxed environment.

Children need positive experiences using nebulizers

Pediatricians often opt for nebulizer therapy as the first-line treatment for acute and chronic respiratory disease in young children. Nebulizer therapy is a proven method for treating respiratory diseases.

  • Give treatment time a special name, like "breathe better time."
  • Try to make treatments fun by reading stories, singing songs, or pulling out special toys just during nebulizer time.
  • Watch a show together and have your child sit up straight so that is easier for the aerosol to get deep into their airways.



How to use nebulizers correctly with babies and young children

On average, children are infected with two to eight upper respiratory infections (URI) each year in the first 2 years after birth, and those who attend day care may have as many as 14 annually. In most cases these infections are caused by more or less harmless viruses. Bronchitis, asthma, and cystic fibrosis, i.e. chronic respiratory diseases, present additional challenges to pediatricians and parents. To treat these diseases, PARI nebulizers are commonly used to deliver aerosol medications. Inhalation therapy with a nebulizer is sometimes the only way to deliver medications deep into the tiny airways of babies and toddlers.

Tips for a positive nebulizer experience with your child

Children are active and often want to help. Get your child involved in their nebulizer treatments! For example, if your child is old enough they may be able to add the inhalation solution to the nebulizer cup (please never leave your child unsupervised when doing this) or turn the machine on. It may also be helpful to have their favorite stuffed animal go first and show how to use the nebulizer. Show your child how the aerosol flows out of the mask or mouthpiece like a mist and then explain the next step: "Now it's your turn to inhale." It is important for your child to understand why aerosol therapy is necessary and for them to have a positive experience. It sometimes takes practice, so if things don't go well the first time, it is best to shorten the nebulization therapy and try again at a later time.

  • If your child is afraid of the mask, you can talk about how it's a "pilot mask" or a "space mask." You might even show a movie about pilots or astronauts and use some of the lingo like "start your engines" before you turn the nebulizer on.
  • If your child is old enough, have him or her put the mask on the face of their favorite stuffed animal and then help you put the mask up to their face to start treatment.
  • Praise your child for a job well done! You also might give a small "prize" (like stickers or a simple toy) to reward your child for cooperating.

Correct inhalation is done best when sitting up

Make sure that older children are in a relaxed sitting position during nebulizer therapy. Sitting upright or even standing is better than lying curled up on the couch. Why? This is the best way the aerosol can get deep into airways, where it is needed. An example of a good distraction so the child’s breathing will remain steady and calm during nebulizer therapy is to look through a picture book together. For a baby, it is helpful if you are holding him or her during a nebulizer treatment, making sure they are a little sleepy and not hungry at the time. In any case, regardless of the option you choose, you should make sure the environment is as stress-free as possible when using the nebulizer. This makes even frequent nebulizer therapy a little easier every time they are used – for parents, too.

Inhalation mask or mouthpiece?

Aerosol mask or mouthpiece?

At what age should children change from using a facemask to using a mouthpiece for nebulizer treatments? In general, children should switch to using the mouth­piece as soon as they can, which should be considered by age 3.

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