Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be treated. Inhalers are one of the most common and effective ways to treat asthma.

It is really important to understand how to use your child’s inhaler properly. Ask your healthcare practitioner to demonstrate the correct technique and then ask them to watch you or your child use the inhaler. At healthcare appointments it is always worth asking for your healthcare practitioner to re-check your child’s inhaler technique.

If your child isn’t using their inhaler correctly, they will not be getting all the medicine they need to manage their condition.

There are two main types of inhaler devices.

1. Metered dose inhalers (“Puffers”)

Pressurised metered dose inhalers, also known as “puffer” inhalers, deliver the medicine in a gas form directly to the lungs. Before using a puffer, you need to shake the inhaler well to mix the medicine with the gas. Puffers should always be used with a spacer device. Find out more about how to use and take care of your puffer inhaler here.


Spacers are clear plastic cylinders that fit onto a puffer inhaler. It is recommended that everyone who has a puffer inhaler (both children and adults) use a spacer. Spacers greatly increase the amount of medicine going into the lungs, rather than it ending up in the back of your child’s mouth or throat. You can get spacers free of charge from your healthcare practitioner or asthma society.

For younger children, puffer inhalers can be difficult to use. For children under the age of four, you can use a mask fitted to the spacer. The mask fits over the child’s mouth and nose so they can more easily inhale the medicine. Wash the child’s face after use, if using a mask with a preventer inhaler. (link to ‘Spacers’ page, adult asthma website document)

Mdi And Spacer

2. Dry Power Inhaler

These inhalers deliver medicine in a powder form. The child breathes in the medicine directly from the inhaler’s mouthpiece. Find out more about how to use the various dry powder devices and how to take care of them here. (link to ‘Dry Powder Inhaler’ subpage, adult asthma website document)


Inhaler devices recommended by age group:

Inhaler device

< 2 years

2-4 years

5-7 years

8-11 years

MDI, small volume spacer
& mask


May transition to no mask

MDI & spacer;
no mask




MDI (alone)

Possible, but use with a spacer is preferable

Dry powder device