Toddlers and Asthma

I started blogging mostly because I learned so much from other moms who blog. I went to the web for breastfeeding advice, sleep advice and commiseration, and now I search for information about having a toddler with asthma. I have found surprisingly little. So here is my attempt to perhaps help another mom out there who is suffering through asthma with a toddler. I haven’t learned too much yet, but I’ll add information as I learn it. And if you have a toddler with asthma and you have a helpful tip, please post it!


1. Youtube. You may not want your toddler watching massive amounts of TV, but for the sake of everyone’s sanity, you may have to put that ideal aside. We watch youtube videos while using the nebulizer. Nora picks based on what she sees on the screen. We started with Sesame Street and have now moved on to The Wiggles.

2. When the doctor tells you to nebulize every 4 hours, yes she does mean around the clock. We called to double check on that one since we weren’t excited about that prospect. I’ve found if you get a larger mask for those times you can put it on over a sleeping child’s thumb (Nora’s a thumb-sucker) and I’m sure it would work for a pacifier too.

3. Make it the toddler’s job. Nora loves to turn the nebulizer on and hold her own mask. By giving her little jobs with the “mask” she looks forward to doing it. Sometimes she even requests it. (I hope writing that won’t suddenly make it stop)

4. Don’t call it medicine. We have never once referred to Nora’s nebulizer as medicine – as there is nothing that she hates more. We call it her mask and tell her we have to put water in it. She runs from any form of medicine, but not from the nebulizer.


As an asthmatic myself, probably the biggest thing I learned was that not all asthma is linked to wheezing. If you have a kid who coughs uncontrollably (and perhaps vomits as a result) then they could have asthma. Nora has only wheezed once – with her first bout of pneumonia. Every other sickness that she has had has only been characterized by a violent cough, not by wheezing.

Did I Cause This?

We went to Nora’s two-year check-up today with a list of questions. One had been on my mind especially in the last two weeks. Can a massive tantrum cause an asthma flare up? I asked the doctor if our letting her cry-it-out after returning from vacation could have been the cause of this latest illness. She said that asthma can be caused by an emotional response, but that she finds that mostly in teenagers, not it toddlers. I was more worried about the crying stressing her lungs, but she said she didn’t think that would be possible, especially since Nora’s flare-up started three days after the tantrum. So anyone else blaming themselves for the latest flare-up can rest assured that letting a toddler have a good fit when necessary isn’t going to cause their lungs to contract.

Allergy Testing

Since my asthma is so related to allergies, I figure Nora’s must be too. I went to the doctor today prepared to set up another appointment for Nora to get allergy tested. To my surprise, allergy tests aren’t reliable until the child is 3 years old. They only test for specific allergies when there is an obvious physical reaction (foods, for example). So we have to wait a whole year before we can know what Nora’s triggers might be.

See A Specialist

After Nora’s latest bout with croup and pneumonia, our doctor suggested that we see a pulmonologist. This scared me and googling what recurring pneumonia could mean was absolutely no comfort. Looking at the typical reasons patients see the pulmonologist was not much better. I was scared that my doctor thought there was some other underlying condition other than asthma that kept making Nora sick. But it turns out that wasn’t it at all. And seeing the specialist has allowed us to manage Nora’s asthma much better for almost a year now. We were able to move her from the nebulizer to a real inhaler with a spacer – something my doctor wouldn’t have done for at least another year. The inhaler is so. much. easier. Nora could handle it just fine from the time she was 3 and a half.

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