How can I get my toddler to sit still for his nebulizer treatments?
How can I get my toddler to sit still for his nebulizer treatments for asthma?
Submitted by American Baby Team

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

Answered by American Baby Team
Community Answers (8)

We strap our son in his high chair or sit down criss-cross-applesauce and wrap our legs around him so he can't wiggle as much and my husband or I sing songs and do silly dances to keep him occupied.
Submitted by amazingmae

We found a YouTube video that was almost exactly as long as our son's treatment. He loves the video so much he doesn't even pay attention to the mask. The video is Will.I.Am on Sesame Street. Works every time!
Submitted by NatalieGrubbs

With time and patience your toddler will get used to the treatments. we started a routine. He will get his blankie, his pacifier, and we put on Yo Gabba Gabba (thank you DVR) and start his treatment. at first he hated it but now it is just routine (morning and evening) Mason will now hold the mask and at 18 months do the treatment on his own sitting on mommy's lap with no fussing (most of the time!)just be calm and patient. if you get frustrated he will too!
Submitted by matchgirl19

We asked for an extra mask to put on her favorite doll so they could have their treatments together. Then we'd read books or put on a favorite movie. The time was over before she knew it.
Submitted by jharris78

Honestly I put on Bob the Builder, it just the right length of time for the treatment and it keeps him distracted...mostly.
Submitted by Cwhughes79

I sat my son in his highchair so he couldn't squirm around as much and gave him a treat afterwards.
Submitted by vivyates

My nephew had to do neb treatments and the first one I did with him cause I am one of his "favorite" people so he was less resistant/scared for me cause he likes to come sit with me. His Nana would sit him on her bed with her and watch a show but sleepy times were the easiest. He didnt wear a mask we just held it in front of his face.
Submitted by hannah_nannerhead