6 Nebulizers for Kids That Make Treatments a Little Easier
If your child has difficulty breathing due to asthma or any other medical condition, a nebulizer designed for kids may be just what they need.
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Kid and parent-approved nebulizers
For a parent, there’s nothing worse than seeing your child in any form of discomfort, especially if that involves difficulty breathing. But that’s what parents of the estimated 6.1 million children under 18 years suffering from childhood asthma have to deal with regularly.
Wheezing, coughing, and trouble breathing are all symptoms of the condition. And while there are many treatment options out there, one of the most effective is using a nebulizer. It’s an inhaler alternative to get respiratory medication into the airways.
Here’s what to look for in a nebulizer for kids. Plus, the best ones that allergists recommend.
What is a nebulizer?
A nebulizer is a machine that delivers liquid medicine via mist form. People who use a nebulizer inhale the medicine directly into the airways instead of having to pass through the digestive system or bloodstream, explains Sarah Washington, MD, pediatrician and urgent care physician in White Plains, New York.
It treats wheezing, asthma, croup, cystic fibrosis, and anaphylaxis (when necessary), and treats congestion with a saline nebulization, she says.
This type of medication admission is especially useful for children with asthma since the condition affects the lower respiratory region where small airways in the lungs, called bronchioles spasm or narrow and filled with mucus, cause difficulty breathing, notes Dr. Washington.
“As breathing becomes more labored, retractions (i.e., use of accessory neck, rib, and abdominal muscles to assist in breathing) are appreciated when you can see those muscles pulling inward during inhalation,” she adds.
How do nebulizers work?
The parts of a nebulizer include an air compressor, a small container for the liquid medication, and tubing that connects the air compressor to the medicine container, according to Carla M. Ward, MD, an allergist with the Institute for Asthma and Allergy.
“The medicine container is attached to a mask or mouthpiece that is placed on the face or in the mouth and pressurized air passes through the tube and turns the liquid medicine into a mist,” she explains.
“The patient will breathe regularly with the mouthpiece in place until the medicine is gone in treatment sessions that typically last anywhere between five and 15 minutes.”
Who would benefit most from using a nebulizer?
Nebulizers can be useful in a variety of circumstances, but they are especially helpful for young children.
“Children are less able to tolerate other ways of administering asthma medications, such as inhalers, or are not coordinated enough to do so,” explains Whitney Casares, MD, a pediatrician in Portland, Oregon, and author of The Working Mom Blueprint: Winning at Parenting Without Losing Yourself.
“Nebulizers can allow a child to passively inhale a medication, sending it directly to his or her lungs,” she says.
And although young babies and toddlers often don’t like having a nebulizer mask on their faces, it’s an effective medication delivery method nonetheless.
What to look for in a nebulizer for kids
While there are no mechanical differences between adult and pediatric nebulizers, some things to keep in mind if you’re shopping for a nebulizer for your child.
Dr. Washington recommends checking whether your health insurance covers the nebulizer.
“If you do not have insurance, nebulizers can cost anywhere from $50 to $300,” she says. You want one that’s effective but doesn’t empty your wallet.
“A quality nebulizer can deliver the medicine to the airways in the most direct fashion in a relatively short amount of time,” says Dr. Casares.
“When your child is having a serious asthma attack, you’ll want the medication to be delivered as quickly as possible.” Give these healthy breathing tips a try.
If you plan on taking your nebulizer with you out of the house, whether it’s for running errands or taking a vacation, portability can be a useful feature.
“Increased ease of packability for travel increases the likelihood that the rescue medicines like albuterol can be delivered at any moment rather than waiting to be at home, school, or a medical facility,” explains Dr. Washington.
“Portable nebulizers are especially useful when traveling on vacation.”
“Sometimes asthma attacks arise at inconvenient hours, or a medical provider will advise using a nebulizer consistently for a day or two to ward off worsening symptoms,” says Dr. Casares.
“If you need to use the nebulizer while others in the family are sleeping, you’ll want a quiet model.”
The more appealing to a child the nebulizer is, the more open they will likely be to using it.
“Some nebulizers look like animals or cars to be more appealing to children and can help make the machine look less scary,” says Dr. Washington.
(This is how asthma and allergies are linked.)
Best nebulizers for kids
If you’re looking for the best nebulizer for your child, consider these expert-recommended brands. And if you need guidance, here’s how to use a nebulizer.
Sami the Seal Compression Nebulizer System
It’s easy to see, just by looking at this Philips nebulizer, what makes it kid-friendly. Dr. Ward recommends this to her patients for its ease of use and child-like appeal.
The weighted compressor is in the shape of a happy seal, Sami, and the mask is a turtle design, Tucker—two fun features that most children appreciate.
The size is convenient for at-home use or travel, and the nebulizer works with most prescribed respiratory medications.
Drive Medical Penguin Pediatric Nebulizer
Thanks to its fun, penguin design, this pediatric nebulizer from Just Nebulizers is more approachable to young children, which is one reason Dr. Ward likes to recommend it to her patients.
It has a concealed filter cap and an air outlet that most kids won’t even notice—all they’ll be looking at is the smiley penguin friend in front of them.
Parents can appreciate the fact that it is easy to use and comes with a convenient travel case that looks like an igloo.
Pari VIOS Pediatric Aerosol Delivery System
This green Pari nebulizer is much more interesting-looking than some of the standard medical nebulizers on the market.
“It’s lightweight, weighing in at just three pounds, is fast and efficient, and has a powerful motor with a quick treatment time,” notes Dr. Ward, who adds that her patients appreciate the fun Fish II pediatric aerosol face mask that comes along with it.
Pari Trek S Portable Aerosol System
With a short treatment time and a weight of just one pound, Dr. Ward likes to recommend this other Pari nebulizer to the parents of patients who love to travel frequently or often find themselves on the go.
“It has home and car power adapters; a rechargeable battery is also an option, which can come in handy for long or short trips,” she says.
(Try these exercises to build stronger lungs.)
MGLIFMLY Portable Compressor Nebuliser
Although this MGLIFMLY nebulizer isn’t specifically designed with children in mind, it comes with two masks in both small and regular. So it’s convenient for child and adult use.
It’s a jet nebulizer, which means it uses compressed air to aerosolize medication, notes Susan Schuval, MD, the chief in the division of pediatric allergy/immunology at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.
It is battery-operated via USB cable and is the perfect size for travel, at under just eight ounces.
Roscoe Medical Nebulizer
Dr. Washington recommends this portable nebulizer by Roscoe Medical for families that like to travel, as it’s conveniently sized for on-the-go aerosol treatments.
It’s lightweight, compact, and has excellent battery life. It also comes with a three-year warranty on the nebulizer and a 90-day warranty on the battery. It comes with all of the necessary accessories, including a convenient tote bag to protect it during travel.
Now that you know about these nebulizers for kids, learn more about the healthy lung foods to add to your diet.
- American Lung Association: "Asthma and Children Fact Sheet"
- Sarah Washington, MD, pediatrician and urgent care physician in White Plains, New York
- American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "Asthma in Children"
- Carla M. Ward, MD, an allergist with the Institute for Asthma and Allergy
- Whitney Casares, MD, a pediatrician in Portland, Oregon, and author of The Working Mom Blueprint: Winning at Parenting Without Losing Yourself
- Susan Schuval, MD, Chief in the Division of Pediatric Allergy/Immunology at Stony Brook Children's Hospital