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How Can I Help My Child Cooperate While Using the Nebulizer?

How Can I Help My Child Use a Nebulizer?

Sometimes babies and little kids have trouble getting asthma treatments with a nebulizer. Kids need to sit still for 5 to 15 minutes while they breathe in the medicine. Anyone with a young child knows just how hard that can be!

These tips can help make treatment time go smoothly:

  • Make it part of your daily routine. Use the nebulizer at the same time (or times) each day, so your child knows to expect it.
  • Give treatment time a special name, like "breathe better time." Try to make it fun — read stories, sing songs, or pull out special toys just during nebulizer time.
  • Watch a show together.
  • Let your child decorate the nebulizer machine with stickers.
  • Try having your child sit in a highchair. If that doesn't work, your little one might opt for sitting on your lap.
  • For a squirmy baby, try using the nebulizer when your child is sleeping.
  • 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. You also can buy masks shaped like dragons and other animals.
  • If your child is old enough, have him or her help you put the mask on, hold the tubing, and turn the machine on.
  • Praise your child for a job well done!

What Else Should I Know?

It's important to follow the directions for giving treatments exactly as prescribed.

Kids who don't cooperate, don't keep the mask or mouthpiece snugly on their face, or who cry during treatment may not get a proper dose of their medicine. This can make an asthma flare-up more likely.

That's why keeping your child happy and calm is important for successful nebulizer treatments.

Date reviewed: August 2017

Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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