How can I get my toddler to sit still for his nebulizer treatments?

Q: How can I get my toddler to sit still for his nebulizer treatments for asthma?

A: It can be difficult to persuade a squirming toddler to sit still for the 10 to 15 minutes it takes to deliver a dose of medication from a nebulizer (which delivers the medications as a mist through a mask that fits over the child's mouth and nose). And it's not uncommon for parents to be chasing their child around the room with the mask while the medication is lost in the air.

To make your son's treatments easier for both of you, look into getting one of the newer nebulizers that takes only five or six minutes to deliver a dose instead of 10 to 15, or ask your pediatrician about using an inhaler with an AeroChamber instead of a nebulizer. This allows you to give a full dose of meds in just a few breaths (it usually takes about a minute) instead of waiting for the nebulizer to convert the liquid to a mist. If you can, use the nebulizer when your child is drowsy, like first thing in the morning or before bedtime (he'll be less likely to put up a fight). Allow him to watch his favorite TV show or video while he takes his meds and for a few minutes afterward as a reward for sitting still. You can also do something engaging but not too active, like a puzzle or playing with Play-Doh while he's getting his meds. --Marguerite Lamb

Originally published in American Baby magazine, April 2005. Updated 2009

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