Effective strategies to prepare infants and families for home tracheostomy care

Adv Neonatal Care. 2004 Feb;4(1):42-53. doi: 10.1016/j.adnc.2003.11.011.


In neonates tracheostomies are most often indicated to provide a stable airway for infants with congenital or acquired airway obstructions and to provide long-term mechanical ventilation. Learning to care for an infant with a tracheostomy can be challenging for both professionals and families. This article provides an overview of tracheostomy care and the essential elements of family teaching. The surgical procedure and basic anatomical changes are reviewed. Complications such as accidental decannulation, mucus plugging, infection, bleeding, and granulation tissue formation are discussed. Humidification is critical for the infant with a tracheostomy and humidification delivery methods are discussed. Further, an overview of the impact of the tracheostomy on normal development, such as swallowing and language development, is provided. Teaching parents to safely care for the infant with a tracheostomy at home requires careful planning and systematic education. The parents must acquire a unique set of technical skills demonstrating competence and comfort in providing stoma care, suctioning, and tube changes. Parents must be prepared to initiate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and need to understand alterations in CPR techniques in infants with a tracheostomy. They also need to develop critical thinking skills to handle emergency situations. A safe transition to the home can be accomplished by using a multidisciplinary approach to coordinate all facets of care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Family*
  • Health Education
  • Home Nursing* / education
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Neonatal Nursing*
  • Tracheostomy / education
  • Tracheostomy / instrumentation
  • Tracheostomy / nursing*