Nebulizers and Children

young boy on father's lap with nebulizer while dad takes notes

How to use a nebulizer?

A nebulizer is a device that sprays a fine, liquid mist of medicine. It is often used in younger children who can’t use inhalers. The device has an air compressor, a cup for medicine, and tubing connected to a mouthpiece or mask. Your child breathes in the medicine through the mouthpiece or mask. Each treatment takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

You may be prescribed a nebulizer for your child to give nebulized medication treatment to help relieve your child’s symptoms. The treatment and administration depends on the name of the medication, the dose, and how frequent it needs to be given.

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Instructions to give a nebulized treatment to your child are standardized as follows:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  2. Gather the supplies you will need: nebulizer machine and the nebulizer cup (where the medication goes in), tubing the connects the cup to the machine, and the mask or mouthpiece that goes on your child’s face.
  3. Make sure the nebulizer machine is plugged into a wall outlet, connect the tubing to the nebulizer machine, and the mask/mouthpiece to the tubing.
  4. Tear open the top of the vial (medication) and pour content into the nebulizer cup, then screw the lid on tightly.
  5. Place the mouthpiece or mask onto your child’s face so that there is a snug fit but not too tight or loose.
  6. Turn on the Power button the nebulizer machine.
  7. Encourage your child to breath slowly and deeply through the mask. In young infants, where this is impossible, place the mouthpiece in front of the child’s nose and mouth, even if they are crying they are able to inhale some of the medication.
  8. Allow the treatment to go for 15-20 minutes. You will see aerosolized mist going from the tube into the mask/mouthpiece.
  9. At the end of treatment, there still may be some fluid in the cup (mostly condensation) and that is normal.
  10. Turn off the Power button on the nebulizer machine, and then dismount the mouthpiece/mask from your child’s face.
  11. Pat everyone on their back for a great job and effort.

After the Nebulizer treatment:

  • Have your child gargle their mouth with water, rinse and spit out.
  • Rinse the mouthpiece/mask/tubing with water.
  • Store the nebulizer in a cool and assessable place.

Notes for Parents on Nebulizer Treatments

  • Try to perform nebulizer treatments in a quiet and comfortable place to help your child stay relaxed.
  • Explain to them what to expect and the noises that may come from the nebulizer machine.
  • It is very important to stay with your child through the whole treatment to make sure it is administered correctly and to comfort your child.

Dr. Eileen Shi

Board-Certified Las Vegas Pediatrician

Your pediatrician should always be your child’s advocate and believe your child always comes first. Little Roots Pediatrics families on their wellness journey with Concierge Pediatric care. We integrate evidence-based care with holistic health principles to provide the most up-to-date, direct-access pediatric care.