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Trouble using a nebulizer on your child? Help is here

As someone who has asthma, Dr. Michelle Bailey knows a thing or two about using a nebulizer. She also knows the challenges of using a nebulizer on very young children, and the importance of older children learning how to use and care for their nebulizer. She has tips for parents with small children through teens, and demonstrates ways to make it easier to use a nebulizer on even the squirmiest little ones.

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Meet Dr. Bailey

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Related information

Tips for kids and teens on using and managing their nebulizer

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More help from Dr. Bailey


Hi, I'm Dr. Michelle Bailey at Cook Children's Pediatrics McKinney.

We're coming into the fall and winter season, that means viruses, that means wheezing. If your kiddos ever had trouble breathing before and you have a nebulizer unit like this, sometimes we forget at 2 a.m. on a Saturday how to put this thing together. So let's go through the steps and I'll show you how to put together the one for babies and the one for older kids.

So first of all, make sure you have all your supplies, your medication, your nebulizer machine, and all of these contraptions.

So we get our little cup right here, we put in our vial of medicine. Attach the top, it just screws on doesn't screw on too tight, just a little bit I'll do. And attach the facemask. Now we get our little connector, mines green here, sometimes they're clear. Plug it in on the bottom. Push it in real tight, that sometimes gets loose and then it won't work if it's loose. So make sure you push it in really tight. And then attach to the back of your machine.

The fun part, you get to put it over the kiddos face, over their mouth and nose. They absolutely love this part. Just kidding. Sometimes they don't. And we turn the machine on.

You can see the smoke really well. You can see that it's misting a lot. Whenever this gets a little loose it pops off and the smoke stop. So make sure that you've got it plugged in really tight, that's usually the first thing that happens if it starts to make the funny sound or if it starts to not mist any more, check that little connector, connection first.

Make sure the kid’s sitting upright really well for the medicine to work. If they're laying back, and you've got the setup too far on its side, it'll stop producing the mist. So make sure you've got it nice and upright. You can put this on a kiddo who is sleeping as long as they're not laying completely flat, because they've got to have a little bit more upright for it to work well.

So if your infant or small child really hates the nebulizer machine and it happens, and you can't get it to them while they're asleep because they wake up, it's okay, we're just gonna have to hold them in your lap, one arm over their arms, one arm holding the mask. You might need two adults for this and that's okay. It's better for them to be screaming and crying the whole 10 minutes and to get the medicine in. During that big cry, that big gasp, they're gonna get a good breath of the medicine. So it's okay. It'd be nice if they sat perfectly still for 10 minutes to get the medicine but that's not feasible all the time. So even if they're screaming and crying, go ahead, finish out the full eight to 10 minutes that it takes the medicine.

So for your older kids and teenagers super important that you know how to put this together yourself so you can grab it when you need it. Same initial startup we've got our two ends, plugging one into the machine. One to the same bottom part. Get your medicine, pour it inside. Screw on the top the exact same way as before.

Now the top of this one is different. It's called a tee top. Looks like a tee when we put it together. One side just put on this little extender, the other side you put on the mouthpiece. This one is for the older kid, the elementary, your teenager, and they can just breathe in really deep breaths through this little T tube. You can again see nice amount of smoke coming through each side, then they take a big breath.

The smoke stops for a second, that’s normal. We want to breathe and all that good medicine. Big breath out and then keep going. It takes about eight to 10 minutes for the medicine to be all used up. Click on the side tap on the side a little bit to make sure all that misty medicine comes back to the bottom. After that eight to 10 minutes you can turn it off and then rinse out, not this compartment, rinse out these little pieces with some hot water just to keep it clean. Especially clean the mouthpiece really well.

Thank you so much for watching the video on the nebulizer machine. If you need more information you can find it at Cook Children's dot org.