Babycare Health

Nebulizer for Babies & Children: Types, Tips and How to Use

Shalini Singh
1 to 3 years

Created by Shalini Singh
Updated on Oct 17, 2020

Nebulizer for Babies Children Types Tips and How to Use
Reviewed by Expert panel

Which nebulizer is best for babies?

Is it safe to use a nebulizer?

Why is a Nebulizer more effective than simply taking a medicine?

Is nebulization safe?

What are the side-effects of using a nebulizer?

How to use nebulizer medicine for cold for babies?

Nebulizer vs Inhaler?

Can a 2 month old use a nebulizer?

The air quality that we breathe continues to deteriorate, leading to numerous respiratory issues especially in children. As a result, many of you have resorted to using a Nebulizer for your child and many of you plan to.

We have covered all that you need to know about Nebulizers in this detailed blog.

What are Nebulizers?

A nebulizer is a piece of medical equipment that helps deliver medication directly to the lungs and the respiratory system where it is needed. It is a device that warms or otherwise changes medication from a liquid solution into a fine mist that's easily absorbed into lungs and easy to inhale. The particle size for devices are from 0.5 Microns to 10 Microns. 

Nebulizers are useful in treating some respiratory conditions and are mainly used for babies. It allows them to breathe normally while also allowing them to take in medication. When a baby breathes from a nebulizer, the medicine present in the nebulizer goes deeper into their lungs leading to better results. Using a nebulizer is also called a "breathing treatment."

Also read Nebuliser for babies along with Benefits & Side-effects & How Often it is advised for Babies.

What are the Different Types of Nebulizers?

There are many types of nebulizers available. Your doctor can recommend the best nebulizer for your child depending on your child's condition.

Stationary Nebulizers - These are strong, durable, long-lasting. These are not very expensive and have a pretty long warranty. These are meant to be used inside the house only.

Mobile Nebulizers - This can be used in a handheld manner. It is powered via batteries or other sources. It is lightweight and can be carried around and used while outside.

Ultrasonic Nebulizers - Ultrasonic devices use high-frequency vibrations to generate a mist. Since there is a heat transfer, these devices have some restrictions on which medicines can be used. These do not make sound, are small in size and are battery operated.

Jet Nebulizers - Jet or compressor nebulizers use compressed air and create a fine mist. This can work with any medication. These are inexpensive but make a loud sound. These are powered by electricity and are not suitable to carry while travelling.

Mesh Nebulizers - These make use of a membrane that vibrates at a frequency to convert liquid to aerosol medication. Small in size, these are powered by batteries. These make no sound, are more expensive than others and are the fastest medicine dispenser. 

What conditions are treated using Nebulizers?

Your doctor can prescribe nebulizers for chronic conditions in your child. Some of these are below:

Asthma: Asthma is a condition that causes an immune response that irritates the airways.

Croup - A condition also known as laryngotracheobronchitis is a respiratory infection caused by a virus. The infection leads to swelling inside the trachea leading to airway swelling that interferes with normal breathing and causes a child to develop a barking cough, runny nose, or fever.

Cystic fibrosis - Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes thick mucus to build up in the airways, clogging them and making it harder to breathe.

Epiglottis - This is a rare condition and a result of the Haemophilus influenzae type B bacteria which can cause pneumonia. Epiglottis causes severe airway swelling that leads to abnormal, high-pitched sound when breathing.

Pneumonia - A severe illness, Pneumonia involves inflamed lungs and requires hospitalization in babies. Some of the symptoms of Pneumonia include fever and shortness of breath.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) - RSV is a condition which causes some cold-like symptoms. Infants specifically can develop inflammation of the small airways.

Allergies - When allergens enter the body through your nose, lungs, skin, or eyes, your body creates chemicals. This can cause inflammation, swelling, watery, runny nose or sneezing.


Signs that your child needs a nebulizer

Your child may need a nebulizer if they have a respiratory disorder . If the symptoms are more than having a stuffy nose and watery eyes and stays for long, there might be a need for breathing assistance. 

You should consult your doctor if your kid experiences one of the following symptoms:

  1. Wheezing

  2. Coughing

  3. Chest pain

  4. Shortness of breath

  5. Difficulty breathing

  6. Rapid breathing

  7. Delayed recovery from bronchitis


How Often Should You Nebulise Your Child?

There is no general answer to the nebulization how many times a day.

While sometimes just a couple of doses are sufficient, at other times, nebulisation might have to be more frequent. This depends on what the problem is, what is the severity. It is advisable to keep a nebulizer handy as administering medication quickly becomes important in such cases.

You should be in touch with your child's doctor about the dose frequency of the medicines.

How do nebulizers work?

The medication is added to the machine when using a nebulizer for children. The nebulizer uses this medication and converts it into an aerosol or a form that contains aerial droplets of the medicine. 

This is done by making use of oxygen, ultrasonics, or air compressed by the machine.

After the aerosol is ready, it is let out through the mask which is put on your child. In case of a respiratory infection, this mist is easier to inhale and an effective way to deliver the medication.

How to use Nebulizer? Your doctor will tell you how often to use the nebulizer. Ask your doctor if there are any specific instructions for your treatment. You should also read the manual that comes with your machine. Every nebulizing machine operates a little differently. And so it is important to follow the instructions for the particular device that you are using: 

Here are general instructions on how to use a nebulizer:

- Wash your hands

- Check to make sure all the pieces are clean.

- Wash your hands before preparing the medication.

- Collect the medication required for the nebulizer. While some are available in liquid form that already have the medicine added, some are a liquid or powder that are to be mixed with sterile water or saline solution. It is important to read the directions carefully before pouring the medication in the cup. Place the medication in the container.

- Attach the tubing to the machine, as per the instructions. It is mainly connecting one end of the tubing to the cup of medication and the other to the nebulizer, but do read the instructions carefully. 

- Attach the mouthpiece or mask. Put the mouthpiece in your child's mouth and close the mouth around it. Hold the mask and put on the mask securely over the nose and mouth, making sure there are no gaps. Although a lot of the infant masks come with strings to put around a baby's head, most of the babies do not tolerate these strings very well. It is therefore easier to gently hold the mask touching the child's face and cover their nose and mouth.

- Turn on the switch and check to see that the nebulizer is misting. Hold on to it while the treatment bubbles and there is mist inside the mask.

- While using the nebulizer, hold the mouthpiece and medicine cup upright. This will help deliver all the medication.

- Slowly breath in and out until the medicine is gone. This may take five to 15 minutes. You'll get to know when the treatment is complete. The mist then becomes less noticeable and the little cup appears almost dry.

- Last but not the least, clean the mask and nebulizer after each use.

Tips for using Nebulizer with babies 

Your little one can be very squirmy, and that can certainly make administering nebulizer treatments a big challenge. 

Some of the tips that you can follow to make it easier are:

  • Use the nebulizer at the times when your baby is likely to be sleepy and take these treatments better. It can be really difficult if your baby is super active, restless or in a playful mood. 

You can try using nebulizer after meals, before a nap, or at bedtime.

  • Sometimes, your baby can be bothered by the sound of nebulizer. If noise is an issue, you can place the nebulizer on a towel or rug. That can help in reducing noise that comes from the vibrations. 

  • For the noise, you can also use longer tubing because in that case, the noisiest part is not close to your baby.

  • You should hold your child upright in your lap during the treatment as this helps in delivering more medication throughout the lungs because then they can breathe more deeply.

  • You can also swaddle your baby if that involves them during treatment. 

What are the pros and cons of nebulizer treatments?

Pros of Nebulizers  

  1. They are easier to use as you don't need to take deep breaths while using one.

  2. It can facilitate the delivery of multiple medications at the same time.

  3. With young children, a nebulizer may be easier to use. Nebulizer treatment also features delivery routes like pacifiers or masks which is ideal for infants.

  4. These are available in portable options that are travel friendly. 

Cons of Nebulizers

  1. If not cleaned properly, nebulizers can spread contaminated mist.

  2. Nebulizers often require a stationary power source.

  3. Delivery of medications takes longer through a nebulizer than through an inhaler.


Side Effects of Nebulisation on Children

Some of the side effects of nebulization include:

  • An unusual taste or dry throat in the mouth.

  • It can cause a feeling of nausea or heartburn because of the taste of the medicine. Baby vomiting after nebulizer usage is also sometimes a concern.

  • Sometimes in case of strong medication, the child might have a bleeding nose , stomach ache or dizziness

When To Call the Doctor?

  • If the breathing problem aggravates after nebulisation

  • If the chest tightens

  • If there are rashes and hives on the body

  • If the treatment is not having any visible effect at all

  • If your child has a severe headache or starts shivering

How to maintain and clean the nebulizer?

It's important that you clean the nebulizer after every time you use it. If the nebulizer is not cleaned, bacteria and fungi that thrive in warm, moist environments can build up. 

If you use a nebulizer that is not clean on your baby, the bacteria and fungi can be delivered directly to your baby's lungs. And so it is critical you clean it well every time.

Below are the guidelines that you should follow to know how to clean nebulizer:


- Wash your hands and clean on a clean surface.

- Disconnect the tube, medicine chamber, mouthpiece, mask carefully. Soak these in warm, soapy water for at least 15 minutes, and wash them properly. in warm and soapy water.

- Let all the pieces air dry on a clean towel.

- Store the nebulizer in a clean, dry environment when not in use.

You also need to replace component pieces around 3-4 times a year. Also, these pieces should not be shared with another person. Follow the instructions for cleaning, disinfecting, and replacement religiously as given by your doctor. 

The nebulizer can be contaminated by bacteria if you do not take good care of it. This can further lead to infections that can be very dangerous. 


Difference between Nebulizers, Vaporizers, Inhalers 

A vaporizer uses electricity and heats up the liquid. It produces smoke or heavy mist to be inhaled by the patient.

An inhaler is usually handheld to administer asthma-related medication. It is not powered by electricity. 

A nebulizer converts liquid into a fine spray. This is done by means of oxygen, air or vibration. Nebulizer gets the medicine inside the lungs of the child for many diseases including asthma. A nebulizer is designed to place medication directly into the lungs. These deliver short bursts of medication when a person inhales. Another advantage of an inhaler is that it does not require a baby to cooperate to take the medicine in.


What's the cost? 

Nebulizers are easily available at most of the major retailers and drugstores. Nebulizers are considered as durable medical equipment and so a lot of insurance companies cover a portion of the cost with a doctor's prescription. Nebulizer for baby price is also dependent on the kind of nebulizer you are looking for.


A nebulizer is a medical equipment that a person with asthma or another respiratory problem can use to administer medication directly and quickly to the lungs. Taking medicine this way allows it to go straight into the lungs and the respiratory system where it is needed.

Nebulizers are a safe and effective way to deliver medications to an infant. If your child seems to have difficulty breathing after a breathing treatment, you should contact your child's doctor. In case there are possible side effects, your child's doctor can help you identify these symptoms more quickly.


If you have specific questions or concerns related to giving your baby a nebulizer treatment, talk to your child's doctor.




This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Oct 17, 2020

Can I do nebulization for 5 month baby?

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| Oct 19, 2020

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