Cleaning your baby’s nose is a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it. 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 a cold 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 home remedies.
What causes your baby’s stuffy nose?
It’s totally normal for your baby’s nose to be congested. Since infants and toddlers are just starting to build up their immune systems, they often catch mild viruses. This results in some runny noses. Dry air, dirt, and seasonal allergies are also common culprits. Before you clean your baby’s nose, 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?
There are few different techniques for cleaning 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, infants, and 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.
Of course, if you are having trouble blowing your little one’s nose, then it’s a good idea to visit your baby’s pediatrician for help and some tips. And if your baby’s congestion doesn’t clear up on its own for a few days, then definitely make an appointment.
How do I help my congested baby?
Hydration is important to a baby’s development, but it’s also a solid way to flush the mucus out of their system. You should also take precautions to keep pollen, dirt, and dust out of your home. Sweep and dust your house often, especially the baby’s room. You can 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.