Advice for giving a 3 yr old inhalers - Asthma UK communi...

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Advice for giving a 3 yr old inhalers

Hi, my son is 3 and was diagnosed with asthma when he was 18 months old. Up to now we have had no problems with him taking his reliever or preventer. Bur now we're really struggling, he sometimes refuses and it's impossible to hold him down to do it. His coughing is really bad at the moment as he has picked up a cold at pre-school. I've just had to try to physically restrain him to put the mask over his mouth which has left both him (and me) in tears. I've heard it's possible to get them to breath in enough when asleep but I can't see how this would work! Any advice would be great, I really am feeling like the worst mummy!

14 Replies

How horrible for you - but he's got to take it!

Try bribery? Every puff he takes he gets a smartie? or 5 mins playing with his fave toy pre or post bed?

Then if he refuses put him on the naughty step or however you discipline, maybe don't force him to take it tho but give it him in his sleep (it does work, just not the best option).

Maybe go and gets his cough checked out at the docs.

Also you could try decorating the spacer or getting him to give it to his teddy, so that he see's it as a more positive experience again.

Best of luck!



Thanks for the advice, I think I'm going to try and see my dr tomorrow, but will definitely try to give him the salbutamol whilst asleep, I just can't see how that works with a spacer???


We used to tell our son he was a spaceman and going into space and count down from 10-1 and say blast off whilst he had his spacer mask on and had been given a puff of his inhaler.

we also put the spacer mask over his toys face and pretended to give the inhaler to them to try and make him less reluctant to use it.

Hopefully this is a stage he is going through and will grow out of it, so dont feel like the worst mummy!



Hi ,

sorry to hear that you having a hard time giving your son inhalers.

I would defo try when asleep. he will still take it it as he is breathing it in and out just note as strongly as when awake.

I think sometimes you just have to be firm, my dd goes through stages where she wont take it and i either get her to give it to her fav teddy/doll. i also count when giving it and although she cant count she knows when i get to 10 she knows i will stop.

if push comes to shove and i know she really needs it, i place her on my lap, facing sidewards. put her arm closest to me under my arm and behind my back, then i hold her other arm and use my free hand to give her the inhaler, i lay her back so she has her head in my arm and so i can keep it still sounds horrid but some times needs must.

hope you get it to take it soon and he gets better soon. xxx




our daughter sometimes gets a bit awkward when taking her inhaler. depending on how she is refusing it depends on how we deal with it

if she wont go near it we try to encourage her to give it to her teddy this normaly works quite well as she will then hold it to face and say my turn

we always try and get her to count with us as each time she says a number she takes a proper breath in

also reward stickers work quite well

what type of volumiser does he have it might be worth asking for one with out a mask.i know they do a tube one with blue ends it might appeal to him, that and you could pretend it is a giant straw for him to suck ""special air"" in. also let him play with it, the volumiser that is, it looses the fear factor we keep one in the lounge so she can pick it up and play with it. it also has the benifit of being close to hand if needed

hope this helps


hi my experience on the childrens ward with my daughter has shown that inhalers given through masks and spacers whilst the child is sleeping is very effective. apparently you don't need strong deep breaths in and out to use them, normal gentle breaths are actually more effective. the nurses (and I have done this too) on the ward popped the mask over my daughters face while she's fast asleep, and shake and dispense each puff at a time, leave at least 5 breaths each puff (as you should if you can).

Good luck


Thanks everyone for the advice, we've been back to see the Dr who upped the dosage of reliever that my son takes. We also got a different type of spacer, the Aerochamber, and he's getting on much better. It's so much smaller than the volumatic and he can hold it himself! Fingers crossed all going much better, actually had a couple of nights of near-uninterrupted sleep!


thats great the areochamber one was the name i was trying to think of its a lot less scary than the big thing


Bumped up for Hermione2001ie, I'm sure there are others relating to this topic too.


my little man was diagnosed at 3 and he also hated having the mask on his face. We forced a few times and it upset all of us with me and hubby arguing about not giving the inhaler. Breakthrough came when i decided to sit little one at the dining room table with the inhaler infront of him and told him when the inhaler was done he could go and play He sat for about 20 minutes and then gave me the inhaler saying its time now mummy.


The last time my son was admitted with an asthma attack a great nurse showed me a way of giving his inhaler when he was upset and non compliant. It is really easy to do and does not hurt the child, although you may well be in tears by the time you need to resort to it as it is usually when both parent and child have totally had enough!

you sit on the floor or bed, put your legs out in front of you in a v-shape and gently lay the child between your legs. carefully place their arms one under each leg where your knees bend and make sure their head is snug so they can't hurt their neck. The child is then safe and their hands cannot pull at the inhaler and you have both hands free to give it to them. Be careful not to squash their arms under your legs - it is easy to accidentally push down on them when you are tense and hurrying to get the reliever into them. If done properly there should be hardly any pressure on their arms at all and they should not feel uncomfortable, although they may well still be upset, but at least you will be able to treat them this way.

The nurses at our hospital always wake him up to nebulise him or to give inhalers, they never do it whilst he is still sleeping, although I used to do this at first until my son and I both got used to having to do it at night, in fact now when he wakes up in a state he usually asks for ""puff puff"" as he calls it because he has got so used to the relief he gets from taking it.

I hope this helps, good luck!


One other thing, when my son was last in hospital the consultant took the small aerochamber away from us saying it was too small and therefore not effective, and insisted on giving him a full-sized spacer with mask instead. Our son was only two and a half at the time so thought it was worth mentioning to you. I think the reason was that the tidal breathing could not be done effectively with such a small air chamber, even at that age. He is so used to the large spacers now that it doesn't bother him at all but it did take a while, giving it to teddies, mummy and daddy, etc to convince him!



Let ur child play the chamber between dosing make a game out of it. Then when u do use it he won't be scared. ... Leave it beside him let him explore it .... We used to see who could make it click click like. Train.... Sticker to reward but they got minging with washing and stuff ...


Let ur child play the chamber between dosing make a game out of it. Then when u do use it he won't be scared. ... Leave it beside him let him explore it .... We used to see who could make it click click like. Train. Counting the clicks etc .... Sticker to reward but they got minging with washing and stuff ...


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