Cleaning your baby’s nose is a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it. Usually, that someone is baby’s mother. While dealing with your own nasal congestion is a matter of blowing your nose or taking a decongestant, your little one doesn’t quite have it so easy. For starters, your baby can’t blow their own nose and, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they shouldn’t have decongestant medicine until they’re four-years-old since potentially life-threatening side effects could occur. That means it’s up to Mommy to do it for them. Yay. So, whether your little one is suffering from seasonal allergies or just a few boogies to blow, you’ve probably Googled “how to clean baby nose.”
To help you get a handle on that, we rounded up some of the best tips and advice — from saline to suctioning to DIY steam showers (gotta love home remedies!).
What causes your baby’s stuffy nose?
It’s totally normal for your baby’s nose to be congested. Since children in the infant and toddler years are just starting to build up their immune systems, they often catch mild viruses. This results in some runny noses. A few other signs your baby is battling nasal congestion include noisy breathing, snoring, coughing, and sniffling.
Dry air, dirt, and seasonal allergies are common culprits of stuffy noses. But before you clean your baby’s smeller, it’s best to know what’s causing the stuffy nose in the first place.
If your little one has a stuffy or runny nose, take note of the color of the discharge. Clear and watery discharge can be caused by a viral infection, bacterial infection, or allergies, and it isn’t typically something to be worried about. If the stuffy nose is accompanied by other symptoms — including a thick, yellow discharge and a fever — then you should see your doctor immediately.
How should you clean your baby’s nose?
Just as there are several techniques to soothe teething pain, there are a few different ways to clean your baby’s nose. Here are the most popular ways to bust those boogers!
Saline Solution with a Bulb Syringe
Saline solution is the safest nasal spray for babies, for infants, and for toddlers, and it can be given with a bulb syringe. This is to help soften hard mucus or boogers. You use this option by adding a few drops of saline solution to each nostril first, and, while maintaining pressure on the bulb, simply squeeze the air out of it while gently placing the tip in your child’s nose. By slowly releasing it, you’ll create the suction that helps remove any yucky stuff. Then squeeze the mucus out of the bulb onto a tissue.
Repeat in the next nostril. To avoid inflammation, use the syringe only three to four times a day if necessary, and remember to clean the syringe between uses.
Use a Humidifier at Night
To help unblock your baby’s stuffy nose at night, using a humidifier in their bedroom is a natural way to help combat congestion and soften the mucus. Cool mist is best, but definitely make sure the humidifier is out of baby’s reach. If you don’t have a humidifier, run a hot shower and sit in the bathroom (not in the shower) with baby to help loosen the phlegm.
Use a nasal spray that’s recommended for infants and toddlers, keeping in mind that you shouldn’t use a medicated nasal spray on a baby — only saline solution. Or feel free to create your own nasal spray to unblock your baby’s nose naturally. Bonus? It’s easy to do.
The University of Michigan Medicine suggests combining one cup of distilled warm water with half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of baking soda in a clean bowl. Then apply the nasal spray by laying your little one on their back. Tilt their head back and drop three to four drops into each nostril with a nose dropper. Let it sit for a few moments. Then you can use a clean bulb syringe or nasal aspirator to help suction out the mucus.
For a newborn baby who’s congested, you can use the tips above. However, you can also give them a warm bath. Remember, the water temperature shouldn’t be too hot. A warm bath, though, could help break up the mucus and distract your little one from their discomfort.
Even sitting in a steamy bathroom with your baby may help break down the mucus in their nose or chest. Do not stay in the bathroom for more than five minutes and if your baby shows signs of extreme discomfort, leave the homemade sauna immediately.
RELATED: How to Clean Your Baby’s Tongue
Other Things to Consider
When babies are congested, don’t you just feel so bad for their little noses? Thankfully, there are several ways to unblock their nasal passages and dry up those boogies.
- Hydration is important to a baby’s development, but it’s also a solid way to flush the mucus out of their system.
- Make your baby sit up often. Gravity will help drain out some of the cold, which can clear them up naturally. And while they’re sitting up, tap their back. This will help relieve any chest congestions. Lean them a bit forward when you do this, or you can lay your baby across your lap and pat them there.
- Moisten any dry boogers with baby-safe saline spray. Then give those crusty boogies a few minutes to soften up. After a little while, use a nose suction device to suck the boogers out.
- The skin products you put on your baby can also affect their nose and throat. Babies are super sensitive and harsh skincare can cause irritation and congestion.
- You should also take precautions to keep pollen, dirt, and dust out of your home.
- You can achieve this by sweeping and dusting your house often, (especially the baby’s room).
- Reduce congestion by removing your outside clothes before interacting with your baby.
- And stick to the dryer instead of letting your laundry dry outside because pollen and other pollutants can stick to your clothes.
- All babies have sensitive, delicate skin. This means that you need to use gentle, safe skin care products like Mustela’s, to avoid irritating their nose or throat and causing congestion.