How To Help Your Baby With Nasal Congestion So You Can Breathe Easier

Is your baby suffering from nasal congestion? Are you looking for ways you can provide relief?

It can be heartbreaking to watch your baby struggle with their first stuffy nose. You are going to have do whatever you can to help them overcome it, since they can’t quite blow their nose alone.

There are natural remedies and over-the-counter solutions that can help your baby. It’s important you review all your options and choose one that will be safe and effective.


What Causes Nasal Congestion In Babies?

Nasal congestion occurs when the tissues inside the nose begin to swell. This is usually accompanied by the production of mucus.

There can be a variety of things that can cause your baby to develop nasal congestion.

  • Little noses: A baby has such a small nose that the littlest amount of mucus can cause an underlying issue.
  • Dry air: Artificial heat can leave your air super dry and this can cause congestion to quickly occur for your baby.
  • Weather: Just like an adult, changes in the weather can cause congestion to occur.
  • Common cold: This one is fairly obvious, but congestion is usually always a symptom of the common cold.
  • Irritants: Your baby has a sensitive nose and any irritants like dust, perfume, or cigarette smoke can cause issues.

What Are The Symptoms?

It is important to know the symptoms associated with nasal congestion so you can determine if that is actually the issue your baby is experiencing.

Nasal congestion is a fairly obvious problem, but there are some symptoms that may not be as apparent.

Your baby may experience several of these and that does not necessarily mean he or she is suffering from nasal congestion. The most tell-tale symptom is the nasal discharge (source).

It’s common for your baby to have noisy nasal breathing and sneezing in the first few days of life. It is likely that your baby still has some amniotic fluids they are trying to expel.

How To Relieve Nasal Congestion

The moment you notice your baby is a little congested, you probably begin wondering what you can do to help.

Depending on the severity of the congestion, you have varying options.

  • Saline drops: Administering saline drops to the nose can help thin out the mucus and free the airways. Once you use the saline drops, you can use a suction bulb or nasal aspirator to help remove the mucus.
  • Suction bulb: This bulb is put into your baby’s nose and you squeeze the end to essentially suction the snot out. These bulbs are usually given to you in the hospital, but some parents choose the nasal aspirator instead.
  • Nasal aspirator: A nasal aspirator is believed to be a much more efficient way to remove mucus from your baby’s nose. The NoseFrida is one popular aspirator on the market.
  • Humidifier: The use of a humidifier will allow you to keep the air in your baby’s room moist. A cool-mist humidifier will help loosen the built-up mucus in your baby’s nose.
  • Vaporizer: If you want a different option other than the humidifier, a vaporizer is another effective method. Some parents choose vaporizers because they can attach menthol pads to help give their baby additional relief. The warm steam can help loosen your baby’s mucus, but be careful not to get too close because it can cause burns.
  • Keep your baby hydrated: Your baby may be struggling to eat due to the inability to breathe through the nose properly, but it’s important they are still getting those feedings. Keeping your baby hydrated helps him or her fight congestion more efficiently.
  • Wear your baby: You probably know from experience that nothing is worse than having nasal congestion and lying in a flat position. If you wear your baby while using a baby carrier, your baby will be in an upright position and this encourages the mucus to drain.
  • Elevated slumber: Although you don’t want to do this normally when your baby is well, you can let your baby nap and sleep in a car seat, baby swing, or bouncy chair under your supervision. The elevation these provide will help your baby fight the congestion just like it does if you wear your baby in a sling.
  • Steam: Steam is a great way to help your baby clear her nose. A good way to do this would be going in the bathroom, shutting the door, and starting the shower. Make sure you don’t stay in there too long because your baby may become too warm.
  • Know when to wait: If the congestion is not bothering your baby, you probably don’t need to intervene quite yet. It won’t hurt to run the humidifier to moisten the air, just in case though (source).

There are over-the-counter medications designed for nasal congestion, but many of them have dangerous risks associated with them, especially if your baby is younger than 2 months. You should contact your doctor before implementing any over-the-counter medications.

What To Avoid When Treating Congestion

Many parents are quick to think of all the ways they would treat their own stuffy nose, but these ways aren’t always safe or effective for your little baby.

It is important to know what you should avoid when trying to help your baby.

  • Vicks Vaporub: Vicks can work wonders on adults, but it can actually make matters worse for babies. There is a Vicks Vaporub designed for babies, but it can cause the snot in your baby’s nose to actually increase.
  • Over-the-counter nasal decongestants: It’s best to avoid these because many of them have not yet been tested on babies. You don’t want to introduce a harmful substance that can actually make things worse.
  • Your fingers: You may see snot and have the notion to want to take matters into your own hands — literally. If you use your finger to try and unclog your baby’s nose, there is a high chance you can actually make the nose bleed and introduce infection.
  • Tissue balls: You may feel bad your baby’s nose is constantly running and maybe even flowing right into her mouth. Some parents have the idea of sticking cotton in the baby’s nose to absorb the snot. This is actually very dangerous because the cotton can travel upward and potentially get stuck (source).

You may find certain products that say they are okay for babies. Many might be, but you should still seek your doctor’s approval before beginning use.

If you know someone who has used a certain product on their baby with no negative results, this doesn’t mean you are safe to use it on yours. Every baby is unique and can respond to substances in different ways.

Is Baby Nasal Congestion Dangerous?

Nasal congestion is essentially harmless and should resolve itself within a week. But there are some cases where it can present a potentially dangerous problem for your baby.

There are certain red flags you can look out for that can help you know if it is time to reach out to the doctor.

  • Persistent fever: If your baby has a fever that has lasted more than 48 hours it might be time to reach out to your doctor, just to be safe.
  • Trouble feeding: Your baby needs those feedings in order to thrive and survive. Bad nasal congestion can make it difficult for your baby to eat because they aren’t able to breathe through their nose when feeding. If your baby still can’t successfully feed even after you have suctioned its nose, you need to visit the doctor.
  • Difficulty sleeping: Your baby will probably find it more difficult to sleep when there is nasal congestion, but if sleep just isn’t happening, there is a more serious problem. Try the elevated sleeping position before reaching out to your doctor.
  • Respiratory distress: In the first few months of life, babies are primarily nose breathers. This obviously can become a problem if your baby has nasal congestion and breathing through the nose becomes more difficult. If you notice an obvious difficulty in breathing or that your baby is taking rapid breaths, you need to seek assistance.
  • Persistent stuffy nose: Stuffy noses should come and go within about 10 days. If your baby is still struggling with the sniffles after two weeks, you need to visit the doctor.
  • Extreme irritability: Nasal congestion is extremely uncomfortable and may make your baby more irritable. If your baby does not seem to be relieved after you suction his or her nose and is crying much more frequently, call your doctor (source).

We all will experience nasal congestion many times in our life. It isn’t the end of the world if your baby comes down with it only after a few months.

Nasal congestion is not a testament to bad parenting, it is just a part of life. As your baby becomes more accustomed to this world, nasal congestion should decrease and hopefully not be as severe.

If you have concerns regarding your baby and his or her nasal congestion, feel free to reach out to your doctor. A quick visit can provide you with that reassuring peace of mind. There is nothing wrong with a parent being proactive when it comes to their baby.


The Bottom Line

Nasal congestion can result in some long nights for mom and baby. It is hard to be a parent and watch your child suffer, especially when they are so helpless.

Hang in there — your baby should kick the congestion in about a week. In the meantime, you can try different solutions to help give your baby some relief. If one thing doesn’t work, move on to the next or even try a combination.

You should rely on over-the-counter medication as a last resort and only if your doctor advises it.

Your baby will probably suffer from nasal congestion many times before the age of 2, so don’t beat yourself up about it happening so soon. Stay positive and keep an eye on your baby.

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