How to Make a Nebulizer Treatment Easier for Kids

August 22, 2013 2 min read

A nebulizer is a breathing machine used to treat pulmonary conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, and other respiratory illnesses. They administer medication in the form of the mist that is inhaled directly into the lungs, via a mask or mouthpiece. Because inhalers cannot be used by infants and can be difficult for children to use effectively, pediatric nebulizers are often the best option when it comes to treating youngsters’ respiratory conditions. However, in order for a treatment to be effective, the child must sit still for 10-15 minutes, and breathe deeply enough for the medication to get deep into the lungs – and if you have a little one, you know how difficult it can be to get them to cooperate. To make matters more difficult, nebulizers typically make a lot of noise, creating a potentially scary situation. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help make treatments less intimidating for your child.

Here are 7 suggestions for making the process less stressful.

  • Schedule your treatments for the same time (or times) each day. If your child knows what to expect, they will soon accept their treatments as part of their daily routine, and be able to adapt to them more easily. Mark treatment times on a calendar with fun stickers – it’ll help them feel more in control, and reinforce the routine.
  • If your child is afraid of the nebulizer mask, come up with an imaginative substitute.Pretend that it’s a “pilot mask,” a “firefighter mask,” a “space mask,” or some other imaginary accessory. You may want to introduce the treatments with something along the lines of, “We’re going to play firefighter now. And it’ll make your lungs nice and strong!”
  • Change the channel. Watch a short DVD, video, or television show during your child’s treatment. This will help distract them and keep them in a seated position.
  • Hold your child close.Place your child in your lap during treatments, and hold them close. The additional comfort of having you close will make things more comfortable.
  • Make treatment time playtime. Read a favorite book, sing songs, or play with favorite toys while your child takes his/her treatment. Or better yet, save those activities for treatment times, so your child looks forward to them!
  • Purchase a kid-friendly nebulizer.There are tons of quieter models designed specifically with kids in mind: fire engine nebulizers, panda nebulizers, and more! Choosing a fun model with your child will help treatment time be more like playtime, and give them more control.
  • Reinforce good behavior.When your child cooperates for his/her treatment, reward them with praise, affection, and if they’re especially good, a healthy treat. Congratulating your child on a job well done goes a long way.