Home Oxygen Therapy for Premature Babies

Your baby needs oxygen therapy at home because he or she is not able to get enough oxygen from room air.

The oxygen is given through a small tube that fits into the nose and around the face. This tube is called a nasal cannula.

  • Your baby should have his/her oxygen on at all times, unless you have been told otherwise by your doctor.  
  • Your baby may need more oxygen at times, like when he/she is eating or starting to get sick. Your baby may also need more oxygen as his/her activity level increases.
  • If you need to increase your baby’s oxygen for any reason, call your doctor.
  • Take your baby to regular doctor appointments to check weight, oxygen level, and to see how he/she is breathing. 
  • Very fast breathing
  • Heavy breathing (when you can see the ribs with each breath)
  • Widened nostrils while breathing
  • Struggling for air
  • Irritability or fussiness for no reason
  • Change in skin color, pale
  • Blue-gray around mouth
  • Clammy or sweaty skin
  • Stopping to rest more frequently while feeding
  • Poor sucking while feeding
  • Breathing faster while eating
  • Pulling away from bottle / breast
  1. Check equipment:
  • Is the tank turned on?
  • Do the gauges show there is enough oxygen in the tank?
  • Is the flow rate correct?
  • Is the tubing kinked?
  • Is the tubing connected?
  • Is the nasal cannula clogged with mucus?

If the nasal cannula is clogged with mucus:   

  • Place the nasal cannula in a glass of water and look for bubbles.
  • If you do not see any bubbles, change the tubing or clean it with a damp cloth. (Do not use baby wipes.)

2. If the equipment is OK, increase the oxygen flow rate by ¼ liter until the baby is breathing easier.  Then call your doctor.

3. If breathing problems continue and your baby is a gray or blue color, CALL 911.

Because oxygen helps fire burn faster:

  • Do not smoke in the HOME or CAR with oxygen tanks.
  • Do not use oxygen near fires, fireplaces, space heaters or open flames.
  • Do not put any grease or oil on the oxygen system.
  • Do not carry oxygen tanks in car trunks, or store in hot places.

Last Updated 09/2013