Caring for Your Baby's Nasal Cannula - Topic Overview
Many infants who have
chronic lung disease need home
oxygen therapy, often for many months. The infant's
oxygen needs often increase during and after eating or taking inhaled
To provide your newborn with oxygen, you may need to use a
nasal cannula. A nasal cannula is a flexible plastic
tube that is used to deliver oxygen to the body through the nose. Oxygen passes
through the tube and into the nostrils.
Take basic precautions while caring for an infant who is using a
nasal cannula for oxygen therapy.
- Order oxygen from your medical supplier 2 to 3
days before you run out.
- To prevent fire and explosion, do not
allow smoking, open flames, oil products, or electrical or spark hazards in the
same room or area where the infant is receiving oxygen.
- Make sure
that the prongs of the cannula are always fully inserted into the infant's
- Do not let the oxygen tubing become kinked or
- Keep the cannula on your infant as the doctor ordered.
Most care for the infant can be given with the cannula in place, including
feeding, bathing, and changing diapers.
- Arrange for a portable
source of oxygen to use when you travel outside the home.
- If the
infant has a stuffy nose from a cold or respiratory infection, he or she will
breathe more often through the mouth. Mouth breathing decreases the amount of
oxygen the infant receives through the cannula. If this occurs, call your
Help your baby stay comfortable by keeping the nasal cannula
properly placed. Also, keep the nose area clean and the nasal mucous membranes moist.
- Check the infant's skin around the cannula's
straps for irritation and proper fit. Often a padding of taped gauze will
protect the infant's ears from rubbing caused by the cannula strap. If the skin
irritation continues, call your doctor.
- If instructed to do so,
always keep the humidification system of the oxygen container filled with
sterile or bottled water. This helps to prevent drying of the mucous membranes
in the infant's nose.
- Even with humidified oxygen, the inside of
the infant's nose can become dry. Inspect the infant's nostrils daily for
irritation. Gently clean the infant's nostril areas every day with a soft,
moist cloth. To help prevent drying, gently apply a water-soluble lubricant such as K-Y Jelly where the
cannula rests. Do not use petroleum-based products (such as Vaseline), because they increase nasal drying and can be flammable in the presence of oxygen. Call your doctor if the
skin around the infant's nostrils becomes irritated.