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Peripheral intravenous line - infants

A peripheral intravenous line (PIV) is a small, short, plastic tube, called a catheter. A health care provider puts the PIV through the skin into a vein in the scalp, hand, arm, or foot. This article addresses PIVs in babies.


A provider uses the PIV to give fluids or medicines to a baby.


Your provider will:

  • Clean the skin.
  • Stick the small catheter with a needle on the end through the skin into the vein.
  • Once the PIV is in the proper position, the needle is taken out. The catheter stays in the vein.
  • The PIV is connected to a small plastic tube that connects to an IV bag.


PIVs can be hard to place in a baby, especially a baby who is very chubby, sick, or small. In some cases, the provider cannot put in a PIV. If this happens, another therapy is needed.

PIVs may stop working after only 1 or 2 days. If this happens, the PIV will be taken out and a new one will be put in. The PIV may also be changed from time to time to decrease the risk for infection.

If a PIV comes out of the vein, fluid from the IV can go into the body. When this happens the IV is considered "infiltrated." The IV site will look puffy and may be red. Sometimes, an infiltrate may cause the skin and tissue to get very irritated. The baby can get a tissue burn if the medicine is especially irritating to the skin. In some special cases, medications may be injected into the skin to reduce the risk for long-term skin damage from an infiltrate.

When a baby needs IV fluids or medicine over a long period of time, a PICC is used. Regular IVs only last 1 to 3 days and need to be replaced. A PICC can stay in for 2 to 3 weeks or longer.

Alternative Names

PIV - infants; Peripheral IV - infants; Peripheral line - infants; Peripheral line - neonatal


Santillanes G, Claudius I. Pediatric vascular access and blood sampling techniques. In: Roberts J, ed. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 19.

United States Centers for Disease Control Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee. 2011 guidelines for the prevention of intravascular catheter-related infections. www.cdc.gov/hicpac/BSI/02-bsi-summary-of-recommendations-2011.html. Accessed February 4, 2016.

Review Date 11/3/2015

Updated by: Kimberly G. Lee, MD, MSc, IBCLC, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.