Getting a three-year-old to sit still for five minutes. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
July 3, 2012 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Ways to make a nebulizer easier for a three-year old?

My daughter has a really bad cough, and the doctor sent us home with a nebulizer which she is supposed to use every 4-6 hours. She's gotten better over the past day, but she still initially refuses to put the mask on. Right now, once I convince her to put it on in the first place, I set a stopwatch for the required five minutes, and we count down to the point where she can take it off.
posted by mkb to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
music device (earphones not buds to help with the noise), special toy for NebTime, reward stickers, etc. We also had a panda-shaped one for a while though it broke and we just got a generic one.

What helped for me is me being sick too, so me and the kid would take turns on our respective medicines.

Also had multiple masks, some she can decorate with stickers or Sharpies.
posted by tilde at 9:03 AM on July 3, 2012

Maybe pour a drop or two of something yummy-smelling on a cotton ball and tape it to the inside of the mask? Like, artificial chocolate flavoring or vanilla extract or something?...
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:04 AM on July 3, 2012

My son got masks shaped as fun animals when he was that age, but honestly, the regular child-size masks fit better. But you don't have to strap it on her head! It's likely the strap that bothers her—just hold the mask over her mouth while she sits in your lap looking at a book (or some other favorite lap-time activity).

There is also another option my son used at that age—utilized by nurses at the hospital, so it's legit—instead of a mask, you can attach this flexi-tube to the end. It doesn't work as well as the mask because her mouth won't be covered; but that way, she can have a little more freedom of movement and you just hold it and direct the spray (spray? fumes? you know what I mean) at her mouth. The tube makes it come out in a more compacted stream. As long as you're holding it close, she will be breathing it in.

Good luck, I know it's hard work for the parents and so frustrating when you just want your little one to feel better!
posted by Eicats at 9:13 AM on July 3, 2012

Oh, we don't use the strap. She will hold the mask to her face once she gets started.
posted by mkb at 9:13 AM on July 3, 2012

p.s. ask your pharmacist or doctor about the other mask/tube options if they didn't already give you them
posted by Eicats at 9:14 AM on July 3, 2012

Oh! just saw your update. You're doing just fine then. As long as she's holding it to her mouth, that will work fine. I know it's the frequency and supervision that gets tough, but the stopwatch is a good idea because it gives her a definite time of when she can stop.
posted by Eicats at 9:15 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

What's something she likes to do? I loved reading when I was a kid and always had a book for nebulizer time. Sometimes I would let it stay on for longer than I needed to because I wanted to keep reading!

Can you set aside some special nebulizer-time DVDs? Coloring books that only come out when the nebulizer does?
posted by lovelygirl at 9:24 AM on July 3, 2012

As someone who had to give three kids daily nebulizer treatments for two years (from the time they were 2, until they were 4), I feel your pain. We started out with the TV. They would only watch TV during their treatments. And that worked okay, but as time went on, that got old. When we let them hold the tube themselves (they were not fans of the mask, but they would hold the tube up to their nose or in their mouths) they did better than when we held it for them.
posted by pyjammy at 9:32 AM on July 3, 2012

So sorry you have to do this. I would have to give the treatments at my daughter's daycare when she was that age. I brought an iPod touch on which she would watch Dora (somehow, even over the din of the nebulizer) and that got the job done. She is pretty distractable with TV, though--and it's pretty impossible to do much else while receiving treatment, IMO.

She also preferred to hold the mask to her face, or use the tube to breathe it into her mouth, as opposed to having the strap.

If she's a heavy sleeper, you might try doing the treatment when she's asleep--unless your doctor/pharmacist says not to. You can just hold the mask over her nose as she sleeps, so she can breathe the mist in.

Some kids object to the mist getting in their eyes. Maybe try swim goggles?

I hope your little one feels better soon.
posted by FergieBelle at 9:58 AM on July 3, 2012

When we had to do this with my 2.5 year old we both pretended to be astronauts going into outer space. She still likes to play astronaut with the mask.

We'd get the rocket ready, and then do a count down and then we' rush to get our masks before the rocket launched.

I'd then tell a story about where we were going and show pictures on the laptop or book while we were flying.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:17 AM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

We stick a dum dum sucker through the hole. When my son would hold the sucker he also held the mask. He was happy to have a treat so he didn't mind the treatment so much!
posted by JacksonandFinch at 11:50 AM on July 3, 2012

Our pediatrician said not to worry about stuffing their faces all in it. As long as they're breathing it, that's what's important. So we just use the regular mouth-pipe things and let it blow at their faces while they color or read a story or something.
posted by colin_l at 1:02 PM on July 3, 2012

In our experience, different nebulizer attachments (the part that you put the medicine in and which is connected to the compressor) have very different output speeds. We use a free attachment distributed by the Xopenex folks, and it outputs a much denser cloud than our other attachments, meaning that the treatment takes 1/2 as long. (Caveat -- maybe it's not supposed to release so quickly, but it's worked for us). Also, we let our little one watch TV, which is ordinarily off-limits, so that she has a strong association between breathing treatments and TV.

(When she was younger, we had so much trouble, and were told a couple of times "the crying makes it work better, gets it deeper into the lungs." Unpleasant days....)
posted by seventyfour at 1:27 PM on July 3, 2012

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