A stuffy nose can mean one cranky baby. Mild congestion isn’t worrisome, since it’s usually caused by allergies, dry air, or viral infections like the common cold. But babies can’t clear the mucus themselves, and they can’t have decongestant medicine until they’re four years old. That means you’ll need to help with the task.
What’s the best method? “You can gently clear your newborn’s nose with saline solution and a bulb syringe,” says Michael Rothschild, M.D., director of pediatric otolaryngology at Mt. Sinai Hospital, in New York City.
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Saline solution is the only safe nasal spray for babies, infants, and toddlers. To use, lay the baby down on his back and, if possible, slightly tilt his head back (don’t force it, though). Then spray 2 to 3 drops of saline spray into each nostril. Don’t worry if baby sneezes some of it out—it still made its way into the nasal passage. If any spray comes out of the nose, wipe it away gently with a tissue.
Once the saline spray is in Baby’s nose, you’ll want to use a bulb syringe (also called a nasal aspirator). Choose one that’s specially made for his tiny nostrils; it should have a rounded, acorn-shaped tip, says Dr. Rothschild. Once again, lay baby down on his back. Squeeze the bulb to get all of the air out, and, while still squeezing, gently insert the tip into baby’s nostril (be sure not to stick it too far up). Then release the pressure, take it out, and squeeze the mucus out of the bulb onto a tissue. Repeat in the other nostril.
Here are four other baby stuffy nose remedies to clear the congestion:
Steam up the bathroom. Run a hot shower for a few minutes; when the bathroom is steamy, sit in the room with Baby for a bit. This will help loosen the mucus in the nostrils. But don’t go in the hot shower with your little one—the water can scald him!
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Run a cool air humidifier. Most of us have the heat on in our homes during the winter months, and that dry air can stuff up a baby’s nose. Keeping a cool air humidifier going in her room while she sleeps can offer some relief and prevent stuffiness. Keep the humidifier clean to prevent fungus from growing.
Raise the crib mattress. It’s easier for all of us to breathe through a stuffy nose when our head is slightly elevated. You can’t put a pillow under the baby’s head because it increases the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Instead, place a towel underneath the head of the mattress to elevate it slightly. This will offer Baby some relief during nap and bedtime.
Visit the doctor. Most of the time, congestion is nothing to worry about. But you should visit the doctor is Baby has difficulty breathing, wheezing noises, trouble feeding, or a fever. Also make an appointment if congestion doesn’t clear within four-five days.