C-Pap Masks for Small Children
C-Pap therapy on a very young child is difficult: the majority of masks on the market are designed for adults. Many popular masks designed for children are engineered for kids over the age of seven: this leaves parents of preschoolers in a bind when C-Pap therapy is ordered for very young children.
Our four year old son is small for his age, and requires the use of C-Pap therapy to treat obstructive sleep apnea. We had a very difficult time finding an appropriate mask for him. The “petite” adult masks did not fit his face, and one of the small children’s nasal masks would end up wound around his neck at night.
He has tried to use nasal pillows (which fit into the nostrils), but could not tolerate the feeling of the prongs up his nose. He sometimes uses the nasal mask style, though he has chronic congestion which limits the usefulness of the nasal masks. The best pediatric C-Pap mask we have found so far is a full-face mask which allows him to breathe freely, even when congested.
There are three pediatric C-Pap masks that fit his tiny face:
Mini Me Mask Danger
On many middle-of-the-night checks on our son, we would often find the Mini-Me mask wrapped around his neck in a dangerous configuration. While this may not cause a problem with some children, parents should be aware that this mask is only held on by a two-point connection to the head net.
The SleepNet Mini-Me Nasal C-Pap Mask
This mask fit our son’s face fairly well, but the nasal mask portion was still a bit large for his tiny nose. The mask overlapped onto his upper lip by quite a bit, and it was hard to get a good seal across the top of his nose. This meant that he would get air leaks into his eyes, which negated the effect of C-Pap therapy and was extremely uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the Mini-Me mask is secured with only two straps on the lower part of the face – the tubing is rigid and must be secured at the top of the head with the head-net.
The head-net design is not as secure as other C-Pap masks, and our son would often bat it down during the night: the mask and head-net would end up wound around his neck. This was a big enough problem to cause us to stop using the mask.
Mini-Me Nasal C-Pap Mask Pros:
- Fits small noses
- Has head-nets in multiple sizes
- Soft gel which prevents pressure sores
Mini-Me Nasal C-Pap Mask Cons:
- Poor design for securing the mask to a child’s face
- Tubing is in a fixed position on the child’s head
- Frequent air leaks for those with small noses/flat nasal bridges
Child Lite Mask in Action
The Phillips Respironics Child Lite Nasal C-Pap Mask
When the Mini-Me C-Pap mask did not fit our son’s needs (with frequent air leaks and several terrifying nights with it wrapped around his neck), we ordered the Child Lite nasal C-Pap mask. The entire mask and head-net ensemble was under $100, and the mask is truly designed for preschool children. The nose section fit our son’s face perfectly, without overlapping onto his upper lip. We also had few air leaks with this mask.
This mask has a four-point connection to the head-net, which makes it more secure on a child’s face. The gel forehead contact point equalizes the pressure on a child’s face, which is important for kids with mid-face hypoplasia. As children have growing bones, the forehead pressure point helps to reduce problems with facial growth and the restricting force of the C-Pap mask.
The Child Lite mask also has a swivel for the hose, so it is not fixed to the child’s head. We liked the ability to move the hose out of the way, so that it would not bother our son during the night. This nasal mask is a bit noisier than the other masks we’ve tried, but the noise is a minor issue when compared to the effectiveness of the mask.
Child-Lite C-Pap Mask Pros:
- Fits toddlers and preschoolers very well
- Swivel hose connection
- Pressure-point reducer on forehead
- Secure connection with a four-point head-net
- Soft gel to prevent pressure sores
Child-Lite C-Pap Mask Cons:
- Noisier than other brands
FitLife C-Pap Mask
The FitLife Mask in Action
Phillips Respironics FitLife C-Pap Mask
Unfortunately, our son has chronic, silent reflux and often has nasal congestion. This makes the use of a nasal C-Pap mask difficult. There are no full-face masks “officially” designated for use in children under the age of seven. After receiving some tips from other parents who struggle with apnea and the use of C-Pap in preschoolers, we decided to order the Phillips FitLife full-face C-Pap mask. While the official paperwork on this mask indicates that it is for children over the age of seven, we have found that it fits our petite, 30 pound four year old quite well.
This mask covers the entire face, eliminating any air leaks into the eyes. The mask is silent and is great for children with sensory issues or who don’t want anything covering their nose. We told our son that this mask would make him a “space man,” and he was enthusiastic about using the mask.
Very occasionally, air will leak out of the top of this mask. Air leaks are nearly always from the forehead area. The head net that came with the mask was a tad too big, so we took the head-net from his Child-Lite nasal mask and put it onto the Fit Life full-face mask. With this hybrid system, our son slept for 8 hours: the longest he has ever slept in his four years of life.
With any child using a full-face C-Pap mask, monitoring is vital in case a child vomits in the night. Children should be able to remove the mask on their own, and parents should be alert and discontinue the use of the full-face mask in the event that a child appears unwell. We currently use a baby monitor and frequently check on our son to be sure he is sleeping comfortably. We have also taught him how to remove the mask should he feel unwell.
Fit-Life C-Pap Mask Pros:
- Silent operation
- No air leaks into the eyes
- Great for kids with sensory issues
- Swivel hose
- Great for kids with chronic congestion
Fit-Life C-Pap Mask Cons:
- Full-face mask not recommended for children with frequent vomiting
- Full-face mask not recommended for children with aerophagia (air swallowing)
C-Pap Mask Poll
Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on February 18, 2015:
It is so very, very hard. We were lucky that Dr. B. did experimental surgery on Nolan before she passed away - she completely fixed his airway. The other doctors in the practice (while nice) are not as thorough or proactive (my older son also has sleep apnea and no one there will do the surgery to fix it, so we are a bit stuck on the matter with him). It is exhausting and so hard to struggle with the C-Pap. I hope the auto-pap setting works and his compliance increases. It is just such a hard thing to do with children! Lots of love to you, jaemom!
jaemom on February 16, 2015:
The respiratory therapist checked out the mask and it seemed fine, but they don't have a child size mask any more, so we have an adult "small". He is 7, but he is small for his age. After a December where he was sick constantly and ended up with pneumonia, he was unable to wear any mask for most of that time. I spent most of January trying to get him re-accustomed to his Wisp mask. I modified the headgear from a mask that had a "cap" instead of a strap and that seemed to work to reduce pressure on his face and head. But, it hasn't been going well. We saw the sleep specialist today and they are going to look into converting his machine to "auto" pap setting, to reduce airflow when it isn't needed to try and increase his compliance- his compliance and his AHI were all over the place on his report this time. The ENT didn't see any indication to do any further testing right now, I asked. I appreciate your answers, just to hear from someone else that has experienced it is wonderful!
Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on January 04, 2015:
Oh, Jaemom - I am so sorry the Fitlife mask isn't working for him. We had very good luck with our mask and never had the clips come undone (Nolan is a ridiculously horrible sleeper). I wonder if there is something wrong with the clips on the mask? How old is he? I would definitely ask about a sleep laryngoscopy if he hasn't had one. Both of my boys had "occult" laryngomalacia. It caused severe sleep apnea. My 9 year old still has sleep apnea due to the laryngomalacia. My 7 year old now only has mild apnea (he is the one who had to use the C-Pap) - he has had several airway surgeries that finally corrected the issue.
jaemom on December 03, 2014:
well, we finally got the fitlife mask and it is not working out. The clips on the bottom stick way out past my sons face and every time he rolls off his back the clips come undone. He's a restless sleeper. I tried to prop him with pillow so he stayed on his back but it does't work for very long. The homecare place and his sleep doctor really have no ideas left. The Wisp works, but is noticeably remodeling his face and head shape. Or we discontinue CPAP, but have not found any other treatment options for him. We go back to the ENT in a few weeks and I am hoping to talk to her about the sleep laryngoscopy.
Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on October 15, 2014:
I am certain we go to the same practice, jaemom. We now see the other female doctor there, too. The one who passed away was the senior member and found something called occult laryngomalacia in MANY of her patients with mysterious apnea. Nolan had central and obstructive - a central component is common with laryngomalacia (http://oto.sagepub.com/content/149/2_suppl/P117.2.... It is difficult to find an ENT who specializes in airway disorders. Nolan's was found via a procedure called a sleep laryngoscopy. They put the child to sleep via sedation and watch their larynx while asleep. Nolan also has glossoptosis, which is a jaw too small for his tongue (so that causes some obsructive a I ended up buying the FitLife online. I have heard a lot of parents like the Pixie mask, too. My older boy also has apnea, and was scoped via sleep laryngoscopy - he also has laryngomalacia, worsened significantly by reflux. A large component of his apnea is due to reflux. He is on 40 mg of Nexium every evening to help with this. My younger son had a Nissen Fundoplication to stop the reflux.
jaemom on October 15, 2014:
I think we go to the same ENT practice, since one of their female doctors passed away last year! We go to the other female doctor there. We have not found a cause for his apnea. He has been scoped, but mostly looking for reflux issues (he does have significnat reflux), not really focusing on the airway. He also was studied by a pediatric dentist and orthodontist but they were unable to find a cause or contributing factor either. We have been having problems getting the Fitlife mask, so we are still trying to get by with the Wisp. Glad that at least one of your kids was able to get off the cpap!
Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on September 29, 2014:
jaemom, how exciting that you are in Western NY! Do you know the cause of your little boy's apnea? For our son, we discovered he had occult laryngomalacia (through sleep laryngoscopy). He also has glossoptosis (a small jaw, causing his tongue to obstruct his breathing). We LOVED our FitLife. Nolan has since had a second airway surgery by his ENT surgeon (who, sadly, passed away shortly after performing this operation). His apnea is now mild, so we have been able to discontinue C-Pap and simply monitor. My other son, however, has moderate-severe apnea and will likely require C-Pap now! It never ends! He also has occult laryngomalacia/severe acid reflux.
jaemom on September 24, 2014:
Thank you! My son is 7 and 44 lbs and we have been having a hard time finding a mask for him. He also has midface hypoplasia and the regular mask headgear left a crease across the top of his head. So we are battling headgear and mask problems. He has chronic congestion problems too. We also had several masks end up around his neck at night. So scary! Our doctor just prescribed this Fitlife full face mask for him, so I was so happy to see your success with it! AND we are also in WNY! I have never heard or known of another child with sleep apnea that wasn't caused by tonsils/adenoids. It is nice to know we are not alone here!
Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on April 09, 2014:
I wish you a lot of luck, Torey! C-Pap helped my younger son until we could get his airway fixed (after failing multiple sleep studies, a really good ENT scoped his airway and determined he had laryngomalacia - a floppy airway). My older son also has the condition and we are starting down the road to C-Pap for him. It can be life-changing!
Torey on April 08, 2014:
I just came across this article, and LOVED it, thanks so much! My daughter is almost 5 and I've been battling the medical community for years trying to get them to see that she has apnea. After her tonsils and adenoids came out and she still had moderate apnea on a sleep study we are finally on the road to CPAP which I've been asking for over and over! Now I need to research and this article was a great step in the right direction. Thanks so much!
Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on September 29, 2011:
Melinda, we have had such a hard time getting our son to accept a mask. The full-faced option worked the best for us. Our sleep neuro warned us that some kids tend to develop a tendency to swallow air with the full-faced masks, but we haven't seen that problem with Nolan. Our son doesn't have an identified syndrome, but he also has midface hypoplasia (along with what is termed "complex medical problems") and I like the fact that the full-face mask won't push on his face while he's sleeping. I know there is a parent on a certain forum I participate in that uses non-invasive ventilation for a mito disorder - I'm not sure which type of mask she uses.
Melinda on September 29, 2011:
I will have to look into this mask...my son is almost 3 and has been using a bipap or vent with a mask since he was 17 months...we've gone through a couple of mask and would LOVE to try this mask to get the pressure off his little face (i fear facial deformity!)...He has a very flat face due to his genetic disorder so mask don't always fit the best and we are trying to keep him from having to be trached....thank you so much for this information.
Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on September 25, 2011:
I'm glad it was helpful, Sunshine625. We had a hard time finding resources for pediatric C-Pap masks!
Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on September 25, 2011:
Thank you so much for this hub!!! Very informative!!! Posted at the perfect time for me :)
Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on September 25, 2011:
Hi Rachelle, it is a way for people with collapsing airways to breathe easier at night. The majority of people with obstructive sleep apnea are adults, but some children have obstructive apnea that isn't responsive to surgery (tonsillectomies cure it for most kids). C-Pap then becomes the treatment of choice, but it is very hard to find good C-Pap masks for kids!
Rachelle Williams from Tempe, AZ on September 25, 2011:
Very informative hub. I had never heard of cpap therapy before your introduction.