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What breathing equipment may be used for my baby in the NICU?

A variety of devices can help your baby breathe better in the NICU or give your baby additional oxygen. These may include the following:
  • Nasal cannula: This is a flexible, hollow tube with two small prongs that fit just below the baby’s nose to deliver a steady stream of oxygen.
  • Nasal prongs: This tube has two prongs attached to it, which are placed inside your baby’s nostrils, where they provide a steady stream of oxygen. If the oxygen is delivered under pressure, it is known as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure).
  • Suction catheter: This small tube is used to remove mucus from your baby’s nose, throat, or windpipe. It helps keep the baby’s breathing tubes clear.
  • Oxygen hood/head box: This clear plastic box is placed over your baby’s head. Oxygen flows into it from a tube attached to a source of oxygen. This hood is used for babies who can breathe on their own but still need extra oxygen.
  • Ventilator: A ventilator (sometimes called a respirator) is a machine that provides additional breaths and oxygen to your baby as needed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.