Enriching childhood with empowering parenthood

How to Use A Nebulizer On A Child Step By Step

How to Use A Nebulizer On A Child Step By Step

Nebulization is no different from a type of a treatment to assist breathing. In this, the medication that a child requires is directly administered through the nebulizer and inhaled by the kid so that it reaches the body easily and is absorbed quickly for immediate effect.

Nebulizers are devices that are used for the treatment of various breathing conditions. It helps to deliver the medicine directly to the lungs. The device helps to turn liquid medicine into a mist which can be inhaled via a mask. Some of the breathing conditions that can be treated using a nebulizer include asthma, COPD among other lung diseases.

The medicine, usually antibiotics goes into your child’s lungs as he takes deep, slow breathes for 10 to 15 minutes. The device might at first frighten your baby or small child, but with the help of a professional, you can make it child- friendly. The nebulizer is an easy and pleasant method of breathing the medicine into the lungs.

how to nebulize kids

The nebulizer is usually to a portable machine that pushes the mist through the nebulizer. The machine has air which helps to convert the liquid antibiotic into a mist. As your baby breathes through the mask, the mist gets into the air ways and goes directly to the lungs. When your child uses the nebulizer, it is referred to as nebulizer or breathing treatment.

Nebulizer treatment is mostly used to treat any swelling that might be in your child’s airways, coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing. The swelling of the child’s airways might be due to the following conditions:

  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Chronic respiratory or breathing system diseases such as cystic fibrosis, asthma and COPD.
  • Infection of the lungs that may be due to pneumonia.

Depending on your child’s age, coordination and understanding of the use of the nebulizer, there are different methods of delivering the nebulizer treatment. There are basically four methods of delivering breathing treatment. They are:

  • Blow-by method – this technique is used when the baby is crying. It helps you to give your child the treatment when he is afraid of the device. In this method, the mask of the nebulizer is held away from the child’s face. Only the mist from the mask is directed to the nose and mouth of the baby. As the baby cries, he inhales the mist and the medicine is thereby inhaled.
  • Face mask – as the name suggests, a mask is put on the child’s face. It can be used on children of all age brackets. The mask is supposed to cover the mouth and nose of the child completely so that the child can inhale the medicine.
  • Nasal cannula – this technique is applied to babies below four years. The prongs of the nasal cannula are placed in your baby’s nose. The nebulizer pushes a high flow of air through the child’s nose into his lungs.
  • Mouthpiece – this method is used for babies older than four years. You place a mouthpiece on your child’s lips and your child will breathe in and out through the mouth thereby inhaling the medicine.

Nebulizer treatment is used to treat different types of chronic diseases in children. The most common type of respiratory infection that doctors prescribe nebulizer treatment is asthma. Other conditions treated using breathing treatment includes:

  • Pneumonia
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Croup
  • Epiglottitis (Haemophilus influenza type B)
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

Kinds of Medications that Can be Used on Nebulizer

There are different kinds of prescription medicines that can be used on the nebulizer. They include the following:

  • Antibiotics – most antibiotics for children are available in liquid form. When they are used on the nebulizer, they are changed into a mist to be delivered to the lungs directly. The most common antibiotic used on the nebulizer is TOBI.
  • Corticosteroids – these are medications used for the treatment of respiratory problems such as asthma.
  • Pulmozyme – this is the drug that is used for the treatment of cyst fibrosis. It helps to loosen the thick mucus in the airways.

Types of nebulizers.

  • Ultrasonic nebulizer – uses ultrasonic vibrations to change water into a mist to deliver the medicine. This kind of nebulizer does not produce a lot of noise. It is more expensive as compared to its compressor counterpart. In addition to that, it delivers medicine faster than the other one. However, not all types of medicines can be used with the ultrasonic nebulizer. This is because it heats the medicine first before it turns it into a mist. Because of this, it affects the quality of medicine
  • Compressor nebulizer – has a motor which uses compressed air to produce mist. It makes a lot of noise when the compressor is working. Because of the conversion process, it usually takes more time as compared to its ultrasonic counterpart.

Advantages of the Nebulizer

  • It can be used on a child of any age.
  • It allows you to mix more than one type of medicine. All the medicines can be administered at the same time.
  • High doses of medicines can be administered
  • The medicine is delivered to the lungs directly as your child breaths normally
  • It does not require special training to use a nebulizer
  • It is an effective technique of delivering aerosolized medicine
  • It has features that make it easy to use on infants
  • It is portable

Disadvantages of the Nebulizer

  • The device produces a lot of noise
  • It requires electricity to function
  • It has a longer treatment time as compared to other inhalers
  • If not properly cleaned, it can transmit contaminated mist to the lungs.

Steps of Using the Nebulizer

Ensure that you use the nebulizer according to your manufacturer’s instruction. The following are the basic steps of setting up and using the Nebulizer:

Step 1. Wash your hands thoroughly.

Step 2. Connect the hose to the air compressor

Plug in the air compressor to the source of power. Check whether the air filter is clean. Then connect the various parts by attaching the air hose to the machine and nebulizer. After that, fix the mask to the nebulizer cup. Now the device is ready for use.

Step 3. Filling the Medicine Cup

How to nebulize baby

Ensure that you put the right prescription and dosage in the medicine cup. If the medicine is premixed, simply put it in the medicine container of the nebulizer. If you have to mix them yourself, make sure you measure the correct amounts using either a syringe or dropper.

To avoid the medicine from spilling over, make sure that you close the medicine cup tightly. Besides that, all the time hold the mouthpiece straight up.

If your medicine needs saline to be added, add it at this stage. If you are required to use saline in the medicine, ensure that you use the sterile normal saline. This is readily available at the pharmacy. Never use a homemade saline solution in the nebulizer.

Step 4. Attach the Mouthpiece and Hose to the Medicine Container

The next step is to connect the medicine cup to the nebulizer machine with the help of the hose. Also, connect the mouthpiece or the mask to the top of the container.

Step 5. Put the mask on your child’s face

Usually, the mask has an elastic strap which helps to hold the mask in place. Make sure that your child keeps the mouthpiece firmly in his lips. This will allow all the medicine to go the lungs when he breathes in and out.

To avoid your child from removing the mask, it might be necessary to distract him. There are various ways through which you can distract the baby. They include:

  • Playing a movie
  • Singing for the baby
  • Reading to the baby
  • Playing with his favorite toy
  • Praising your child for having done a good job to inhale the medicine.

Besides distracting the baby, you can make the treatment time more relaxed by doing it the same time on a daily basis.

If your child is old enough, allow him to personalize the nebulizer. This will give your child a sense of ownership and it will make the nebulizer less scary. Your child might want to put a sticker on the compressor, allow him.

Besides that, there are some things that children likes, allow your kid to choose the one he likes. Some masks come in the shapes of a fish mask, elephant mask among other shapes. You can also encourage your kid to wear it by referring to it with pleasant names such as space mask or pilot mask and encourage him to act like a pilot or astronaut.

Some masks come with pacifier attachments. These are ideal for infants. The pacifier soothes the infant while wearing the mask.

Step 6. Put the Mouthpiece in your child’s mouth

When you place the mouthpiece into your baby’s mouth, ensure that it is between the teeth and the lips are closed around it. Let your child breath in and out slowly through the mouth until all the medicine is used up.

It requires around 10 to 15 minutes for the medicine to be used. If need be, from time to time close your baby’s nose gently so that he breathes only through the mouth. This helps all the medicine to go to the lungs. Usually, small children do well when they are wearing a mask.

Make sure that you supervise the baby throughout the inhaling process. Hold the baby to sit in an upright position in your lap. Ensure the mask is well fixed on his face. If there is any space left between the face and the mask, some mist will leak out and your child will not get the full dose as required.

As the volume of the mist slows down, shake the medicine container with your hand to make sure that the last drops of the medicine in the cup are inhaled. Ensure that the container is kept in an upright position.

The most important point to remember when using the nebulizer is, don’t put it on a crying baby. This is because when your baby is crying, he will inhale the mist a very quick inhalation and a long exhalation. This means that the baby will not take in enough medicine to reach the lungs. This will give your child a bad experience using the nebulizer and it might hinder successful use of it in future.

However, if your child is experiencing difficulties in breathing and will not stop crying you can use the blow-by technique discussed above to administer the medicine to help your baby breathe. If your baby is sleeping, you can put on the nebulizer and let him inhale the medicine while sleeping.

Step 7. Turn Off the Device

The nebulizer treatment is over when the medicine is used up. You can know this when the mist stops coming out. Some machines are made in such a way that they will make a sputtering sound when the medicine is gone. Turn off the machine once you are sure the treatment is done.

Step 8.  Wash the Medicine Cup and mouthpiece

After every treatment session, ensure that you wash the medicine container and the mouthpiece. You can wash them using hot water and soap. After washing, air dry them and ensure they are completely dry before storing.

Using a Nebulizer on Babies

Administering a nebulizer treatment on a baby can be a bit challenging at times. This is because babies can be troublesome. The following are some of the top tips on how you can use a Nebulizer on a baby:

  • Use it when the baby is sleepy When the baby is sleepy, he is less resistant. The best time to administer is immediately after a meal, at bedtime or before napping.
Nebulizer on babies
  • Swaddle your baby is it makes him comfortable to use the nebulizer.
  • If the nebulizer produces too much noise which scares your baby, throw a rug or towel over the machine to reduce the noise. Also, you can use a longer hose tube to ensure that the noisy compressor is far from the baby.
  • Make sure that your baby is seated upright on your lap. This ensures that the airways are open enough and the medication goes directly to the lungs.
  • Make a fixed routine/time to use a nebuliser on your kid so that they can get acquainted with it
  • Try to make the nebulizing machine look attractive to them by pasting few stickers of their favorite cartoons
  • Make the complete process fun filled for them by engaging them in some sort of game/toys or by reading them a story book

Can I Feed My Baby After Nebulizer?

Feeding baby just after nebulizer or just before you plan to nebulize your baby is not recommended by doctors. You can instead breastfeed your kid (or give them baby formula) about half an hour before or after getting the nebulization.

It has been seen that baby feels sleepy after they eat and are full. Giving the nebulizer treatment while they feel sleepiness may not be good for them.

Also read-

How Often Do You Use A Nebulizer Treatment?

As such there is no specific answer to the exact number of times your child need to be nebulized. Most of the time, this may depend on the type of problem they have and its severity.

While most of the doctors suggest giving nebulizer medications to your child 3-4 times in a day, many times giving just a single dose may suffice and help relieve the symptoms for small babies (1-2 months old).

Side Effects Of Nebulizer on Children

Some usual and normal side effects are

  • A dry throat or a weird taste in the mouth
  • The medicine’s taste can cause a feeling of nausea or heartburn
  • In case of strong medication, certain cases might emerge where a kid has a bleeding nose, stomach ache or dizziness

When Should You Call The Doctor?

  • The breathing problem aggravates after nebulization
  • The chest tightens or there are rashes and hives on the body
  • Your child has a strong headache or starts shivering
  • The treatment isn’t having any visible effect at all

Care of the Nebulizer

It is crucial to keep the nebulizer clean at all times. This will help prevent your child from inhaling pathogens which might worsen his condition. After every use, make sure that you clean it. Wash the mask, mouthpiece and container. You can wash them using hot water and dish soap.

After washing, shake off all the excess water and air-dry all the parts. However, if you want to dry the parts immediately, you can connect them to the nebulizer machine and turn on the machine to blow the air through it to dry. Before putting away the parts, ensure that they are completely dry.

Some nebulizers can be cleaned by boiling to disinfect them. Ensure you check the manufacturer’s instructions before using this method of cleaning. If your nebulizer can withstand boiling, 10 minutes are enough to disinfect it. For effective disinfection, use 3 parts of hot water and 1 part of diluted white vinegar.

Ensure that once a week you wipe the dust off the machine. Use a damp piece of cloth to wipe. Also, check the air filter. After 3-6 months of use, the nebulizer should be changed.


Nebulizer treatment is not only effective but it is also safe in delivering respiratory medicine to infants. For children under four years, a mask is used. For children more than four years, a mouthpiece is used during the breathing treatment.

When your child is using a nebulizer, make sure that he is sitting in an upright position. To make them sit upright, give them something to keep them busy. At first, your kid might feel scared to wear the mask, but he is likely to be more cooperative when he realizes the nebulizer makes him feel better.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions so that your nebulizer can work better. It is advisable to replace the medicine containers regularly because when they are overused, they can stop functioning.

One thought on “How to Use A Nebulizer On A Child Step By Step

Comments are closed.