26 answers

Need Advice on Giving Breathing Treatments

My son was diagnosed with bronchitis this week and the doctor wants me to give him breathing treatments. He is 14 months and wants NO part of the breathing machine. We have tried giving them with and without the mask. We have tried making a game of it, letting him check it all out before hand. I have tried giving them to him while he slept, but he just woke up crying and pushing it away. I mentioned this to the doctor. I told him this morning that the only way I can give them is to swaddle him, and he's a big baby, in a blanket and hold the mask on him. He cries, fights me, and makes me feel horrible. I know he has to take the treatment. He acts terrified of the machine and screams hysterical, but I want him to get better and not be hospitalized, so we just give them anyways.
My big kids want to "rescue" him from the treatments, but I told them if he doesn't get them he will only get worse and then he could be put in the hospital, and they will administer them regardless of his protest.
I was wondering if anyone else had this much trouble with administering the treatments it just makes us all feel so bad for him. Any ideas or suggestions would be helpful.
We all, my husband, son, daughter and I, all feel for him and feel bad for him.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I know that the breating tratments are difficult. Both my kids had to have them regularly and we found that the pipe worked so much better than the mask. We would hold them and read or play or just let them watch something on TV while they were taking their treatment. Let them hold it, chew on it (this worked great), anything to get them through it. Hang in there, it will get easier and he will get use to it.

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We've had to give my son breathing treatments since he was 5 months old, so I know how hard it can be. He is now almost 3yrs. We tried different things for awhile we had to just hold him while he fought us and then we were able to sing to him which worked. But we found that if we put on his favorite show that worked best. They all worked for awhile try reading him a book. Once he gets use to it it won't be so bad.

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we gave my 15 month old his breathing treatment while he ate. I just held the nozzle close to his face so he could breathe it in. That was the only time my son would sit still enough for it.

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I'm sure you have already gotten great advice, but we had the same problem with our daughter when she was around that age. We would hold the mask a little bit away from her face, as long as the medicine (fumes) were going in her mouth and nose. The doctor said that was fine. We would also play one of her favorite DVD's on TV while doing it. I think I can remember singing Elmo songs or something like that also. Believe me, I've been where you are, many times. It made me so sad to have to do that to a crying, screaming child. It does get better over time. When she was about 3, we were still occasionally giving them to her when she would get bronchitis or croupe, and by then, she would just hold it on her mouth herself...what a difference! Good luck!

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Good morning. I have three children ages 6, 4, and 2. They have had bronchitis in the past, slight asthma etc. I was never given a mask and always wanted one because I thought that it would get more medicine in the children; however, they freak out when we have to get a treatment at the doctors office and they have to wear the mask! They act like someone is torturing them. We have the 2 ended mouthpiece and they actually enjoy sticking the mouthpiece in their mouth and breathing the medicine in--it's like they can tell that it's helping, they get to hold it and are in some sort of control of the machine. Mine used it from about 6 mths on up (they rarely need it now) They sell the mouthpieces at any pharmacy--maybe it's worth a try?

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Hey S.,

My son was diagnosed with bronchitis at 7 months. We had to give him breathing treatments as well and still do at times and he's ten now! I know to start treatments when he gets that crupy cough. He did not like them either, but he didn't give me that much trouble, thank goodness. He would NOT wear the mask so I had to just hold it in front of him. He didn't like the misty smoke so I put sunglasses on him and it helped. He also didn't like the taste of it so we let him chew gum. Yours might be too young so maybe some candy or something might help. His sister, who is two years older acted jealous of him getting "smoked". I think that made it a little more special for him. I would put the smoke in her face for a second and she acted like that was cool. I'd put it up to my face also to let him know that it doesn't hurt and that it was pretty neat. That all seemed to help me. Maybe it will help you too. Good Luck! T.

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we gave my 15 month old his breathing treatment while he ate. I just held the nozzle close to his face so he could breathe it in. That was the only time my son would sit still enough for it.

1 mom found this helpful

my kids had to do this they have asthma and when they were little I didnt put the mask on I just held it as close to the mouth as possible they will breathe it in. Keep him occupied with books blocks something hell forget itsthere. Good luck K.

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maybe start using it yourself, and giving it to your older kids, to use it, too, and all pretend to act happy and calm while it's on?

Can you forego doing it for a day or so, so he can get over the fear a little bit while you do this?

Maybe administer little treats to everyone who uses it? (of course, since your 14-month old is sick, he shouldn't have anything sugary, so give him a healthy snack for a treat)

Maybe when you use it on him while he's sleeping you can just hold it over him and not let it touch him (I'm assuming it looks like an oxygen mask), and just very, very gradually put it on his face. Or maybe it will work well just hovering over his face. Better than nothing, I suppose.

Is the noise scary? At night you could mask it with soem white noise, that you turn up very gradually,, like a fan from lower to higher settings.

Good luck. I know you must feel bad but you're doing the very best you can. Just give that little boy lots and lots of cuddles and see what works best.

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S.,
I wish I had some great words of wisdom to help you with this, but I don't.My son was born with a heart defect and had open heart surgery when he was 8 days old. He was on a ventilator for a couple of weeks, so he gets some resp infections and has to take breathing treatments. When he was younger (he is 6 now) it was just like with your son. He was scared and nothing we tried worked. I would just hold him and keep his arms out of the way. He would fight me, but give up after a while and fall asleep. Like you, I felt horrible and hated having to do it. Just remember, it is what is best for him, so he doesn't end up in the hospital. Hang in there and just do the best you can. Hopefully he will be less terrified with each treatment.

Good luck!

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Hi! My son has been using a nebulizer since he was 6 months old. I know the struggles you are facing!!! We use a Dino mask now, although I don't think that it will help at your son's age. He probably isn't going to like anything he can't control! I would just use the mouthpiece and let it blow in his face. Is your nebulizer a fun shaped one? Ours is a cow. We let our son sit in the floor and play with the machine, unplugged at first, so he could get used to it. Then we would sit with him and let him turn it on and off until he got used to the sound and knew it wasn't going to hurt him. We also let him hold his mouthpiece as long as he held it close to his face. Sometimes we sit in the floor with him in our lap and read him a Dr. Seuss book. It always seems like by the time you are done with One Fish, Two Fish or Green Eggs and Ham that the treatment is done! I hope some of this helps. Good luck, God Bless, and I hope your little man gets better!

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Our son was young when he started his too. Our Dr. gave him a Dino mask. They make them in alot of dfferent animals. Maybe that might work. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I used to care for a boy who fought his breathing treatments
they started his treatments at about 10 months. Unfortunatley, he fought us three times a day until he was about three. Swaddleing was the only thing that we could do to ensure he was receving the medication. Sometimes we would swadle him and hold him as if he were breast feeding with a blanket over his head then we could use the mouth piece instead of the mask. Eventually he would fall asleep when used that method at nap and at night.

Remind yourself contantly that you are not hurting him. That you are doing what is best for him. It is the right thing to do no matter how he reacts. Also remind yourself and your family that his crys are just him communicating "I don't understand" and that's O.K. that he doesn't understand what is going on because he is 14 months old. It is your job to understand what you are doing is right and proper. When you begin to believe this your change in feeling will translate to him and calm him down.

FYI- the reason he stopped fighting was because he began to understand and want to do it himself. As it turned out about six months after that they got rid of the carpet for tile and he no longer required treatments, he was just being aggitated by the chemicals. Hopefully your son's bronchitis is short term but if it becomes re-occuring you can reduce the aggitation by removing the chemicals from your house, thus reducing the treatments.

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I have 3 children with asthma and so breathing treatments are given at our house on a pretty regular basis. Two of my children do fine but with the 3rd one it is a battle. I can totally relate to what you are going through. I too feel that it is punising her and question how much good, due to the fight, it is actually doing her. I do plan to discuss this with her pediatrician when we go back and see if there is another alternative.

1 mom found this helpful

We've had to give my son breathing treatments since he was 5 months old, so I know how hard it can be. He is now almost 3yrs. We tried different things for awhile we had to just hold him while he fought us and then we were able to sing to him which worked. But we found that if we put on his favorite show that worked best. They all worked for awhile try reading him a book. Once he gets use to it it won't be so bad.

1 mom found this helpful

Our older daughter also had to have breathing treatments when she was about the same age. And she could scream like nothing else. We would just cuddle her close and make it seem like a big hug and hold the mask to her face. And then we discovered Elmo. So we would turn on Sesame Street and turn the tv way up so that we could hear it over the machine, and we would sit and watch it while we did the breathing treatments. That made all the difference for our daughter. She still didn't like it, but she wouldn't sit and scream the whole time. Other times she would sit in my lap for the treatment and her daddy would sit in front of us doing his best to make her laugh--he would sing to her and give her little massages on her legs and feet and sometimes he would tickle her a little (although that made her wiggle a lot). She would still cry some, but it distracted her enough that she wasn't fighting me as much.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

breathing treatments are tough. not only does the machine make a lot of noise but the medicine just does not taste very good. the one thing that my dad liked and the kids got used to is using the pipe in lieu of the mask. That way u can sit next to him read a book and have the pipe close to him and he can be breathing it in or see if he can make animal clouds with the vapor smoke. try to make it a game. my boys quit being so scared but I had to have a popsicle or something afterwards because of the taste.

1 mom found this helpful

I know that the breating tratments are difficult. Both my kids had to have them regularly and we found that the pipe worked so much better than the mask. We would hold them and read or play or just let them watch something on TV while they were taking their treatment. Let them hold it, chew on it (this worked great), anything to get them through it. Hang in there, it will get easier and he will get use to it.

1 mom found this helpful

I know this is tough. Have you bought the machine or are you renting it? If you have purchased it start by letting him pick out stickers to decorate the machine with. My daughter hated it as well. Her machine had the option to either put it in her mouth and breath in or hold it up to her nose and have her breath it that way. It is not an option of IF you do it and how you do it- it is a necessary evil. You just have to know in your mind like it or not this will hopefully keep him out of the hospital and away from needles. My daughter preferred it being held up to her nose at first but then she said it put off a "funny" smell so she finally accepted it in her mouth. If you have more than one attachment you might use it at the same time he is. Of course, yours in not hooked up so you are not using the medicine. Just remember to keep the faith and this is just one of those battles you must fight to save his life! You are in my prayers.

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My daughter is 25 months and we have been giving her breathing treatments for almost a year now. She HATED it at first and it was an awful struggle everytime. My husband would hold her as tight as he could while i would hold the mask on her face...she would scream the entire time. It was awful. We finally learned that we could take the mask off and just let it blow in her face, which we would do while she ate. She probably didn't get near as much medicine doing it that way but it was obviously enough and she wouldn't fight it. Now, for about 4 months she does it herself. She sits in her chair, holds the mask to her face and I read books to her. She loves it now.

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Always remember first time impressions.

It looks like your child was frighten or something.
I suggest you put on cartoons and sit next to him
and put one of the parents put the mask on and do
a dry run. While doing so makes jokes and get him
to laugh or smile. Then ask him if he wants to try.
Hopeful this will work.

God Bless and wishing you and the child the best

1 mom found this helpful

Oh, yes, we had the exact same problems with our daughter (now 3). At that age, they just can't stand having things covering their noses.

Some things that helped: 1) try the adult mask. It's less confining than the baby mask and since you're standing there holding it anyway because he's fighting you, holding an ill-fitting mask is of little consequence. Also, 2) there's no rule saying that the head strap (a big issue in my house) has to go around the head. Move it to behind the mask and just hold the mask to his face for the whole treatment (seems like forever, I know!). 3) Since the whole point of the treatment is that they breathe the medicine in, proximity is the real issue. And, if it comes down to it - there's just no other way to get him to take the medicine - just hold the mask close to his face, slightly below the mouth and nose so that he gets as much as possible. It's less than ideal, I know, but it's better than nothing.

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Have you tried allowing him to hold his own mask and with your help, "do it himself". We had similar issues with our son when he was young, like your child, this seemed to help. It wasn't a perfect treatment at first but he got to the point where he wasn't afraid of the machine.

Hope this helps,
W.

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Your poor little guy! With my children, we played a game. We put plastic over one end of the mouth piece so that the medicine came out only one end. I then attached a sock puppet on it with the medicine coming out the mouth. We then pretended that it was a dragon puffing, or whatever animal would entrest them. This would distract them for at least part of the treatment. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

That sounds almost exactly like my son's response to the treatments. We told him we had to do the treatments to make him "get better", I would put his favorite cartoon on the tv, and we would do it--I never let my son see me waiver about the treatments--so he knew it was going to happen no matter what his response was. I also put his sister in a different room to watch tv so she wasn't staring at him which always made him fight more.
I know it's hard, hang in there, it will pass---and you will avoid the hospital.

1 mom found this helpful

My two and half year old has been doing breathing treatments off and on since last August and he was not too thrilled with the whole process at first. We tried holding him and setting beside him on the floor and counch but it didn't work. Finally we put him in his booster chair at the kitchen table and this worked just fine, with us sitting there holding it in front of his face. He was where he couldn't fall and we occupied him with coloring and cars. This worked great and he slowly got used to the idea of having to do them. Now everytime he gets a cold and starts to get congested we have to do this otherwise it will turn into pneumonia and he will end up in the hospital. He now sets on the couch and will do these a couple of times a day with no fussing. Just by holding it up to his face and nose might help as well instead of putting it directly on his face with the mask, this is what freaked my little one out at first as well. Hope this helps.

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Hey S., I hope this helps.... My daughter had bronchitis in November at 10 months. After a couple days of fighting with her to do the treatments my hubby decided to "sneak" a treatment in during a bottle feeding. As long as she had a bottle (or her sippy now) nothing else in the world exists! Of course we took the mask off and just used the other attachment. Hopefully you find something that works, good luck!
~H. C.

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Been there, done that.... K, now 5, hated it and J, 2 yrs. 4 mo.s, loves it. I don't know why he accepted it and K didn't but it is so hard to go through. They both have had to have them off and on since birth. K had a mask that had purple "fins" that made it look like a dinosaur nose. J prefers the regular mouth piece that he can hold in his mouth. He tends to breathe through his nose so that doesn't always work. I have to continuously remind him and show him, "suck the air in with your mouth".

Too be honest if the little one is crying and you are able to hold her safely while also holding the tube/mask then you know she is getting it deep in her lungs. Find out if you can get an extra long plastic tube so you can have the Nebulizer in a different room, the sound of the machine may be what is scaring her.

Are you using Albuterol or Xopenex? Albuterol can make them shake and that causes you to worry even more. Xopenex is just as good but doesn't cause shaking. Both are excellent meds when given correctly.

Good luck with your little one.

1 mom found this helpful

Poor baby, Both of our sons have been through this. Both also terrified of the machine and the noise it makes, our doctor told us as long as the air with the medicine is getting into his system the mask or mouth piece didnt have to be on their fae or in their mouths. I dont know if being able to hold it away from him a little bit will help you out at all but I it helped us alot, of course our oldest is now 3 and will hold the mouth piece in his mouth himself if he gets to help put the medicine in nad turn the machine on. They have to use the machine for asthma rather than bronchitis but it all still works out the same. Hope this helps you out in some way.

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