a teddy bear sitting in a bed wearing a CPAP mask

Tips to Help Your Child Wear Their CPAP

Was your child just diagnosed with sleep apnea and put on a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine? Here are my tips to help children wear CPAP.

You are probably wondering, "How am I going to get my child to wear a mask?" Don’t worry, I have worked with hundreds of pediatric patients and even have children in my family who wear a CPAP. I will share my tips and tricks with you to have your child get a good night's sleep with their CPAP machine.

Remind them they are not alone

My first tip is to let your child know that they are not alone in having to wear a mask and use a CPAP machine. What I like to do is show a picture of other children wearing a mask. Whether that is another child you may know or an image from Google, I have found it makes the process of adjusting to the new therapy easier.

Explain CPAP therapy in simple terms

Explaining CPAP in simple terms to your child will help to make the therapy less scary to them. I like to say that it will help them get a good night's sleep, so hopefully, they won’t feel so tired. If you don’t feel comfortable explaining, have the sleep specialist or respiratory therapist help you.

Practice wearing the CPAP mask

Getting used to the mask is the biggest hurdle. Let’s face it, having something on your face is weird. Taking the time to adjust to that is crucial to wearing CPAP therapy. I highly recommend asking for a mask to work with your child. Many sleep labs let the patients take home the mask they used in their sleep study.

Practicing putting the mask on/off and wearing the mask while the child is awake will make it easier to get used to it. A great way to do this is to have your child wear their mask while you read to them at nap time or even starting the bedtime routine earlier.

The storybook lifesaver

I came across this AMAZING book called The Magical Mask. The story has a cute magical fairy named Pixi, and he gives the little girl a magical mask that helps her sleep.

I have been able to help parents with bringing Pixi to life, having parents read the book to their children, and then leaving notes and small gifts from Pixi of encouragement. I like to think of it as the Elf on the Shelf for CPAP.

Try a reward system

It doesn’t matter how old your child is: many children like receiving a reward. Some parents have had great luck with creating a reward chart for having their child wear their mask.

One thing to remember is adjusting to CPAP therapy will take time. It’s even difficult for adults, but make the experience fun and your child will take to the therapy.

Make a CPAP shelf

One great way to keep your child’s CPAP discrete is to have a CPAP shelf. Many people just take a board and place it between the mattress and box spring. This is low enough that the machine can be covered with the bedspread.

Find support from other parents

Remember, you are not the only parent who has a child with sleep apnea. Reaching out to other parents who have a child on CPAP can be very helpful.

Does your child use a CPAP? Do you have any tips to help a child use CPAP? Share your experience with our community in the comments below.

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