How Do You Clear a Baby's Stuffy Nose?

Medically Reviewed on 1/6/2021

Ways to clear a baby’s stuffy nose

Stuffy noses in babies can make them irritable and cranky.
Stuffy noses in babies can make them irritable and cranky.

Stuffy noses in babies can make them irritable and cranky. It’s hard for babies to breathe and eat when they have a stuffy nose, and this makes many parents anxious. Babies may find it difficult to sleep as well. The best way to clear a stuffy nose is by using a gentle suction device such as a nasal aspirator. Other best remedies to clear a baby’s stuffy nose include:

  • Nasal drops: Squeeze one to two drops of saline nose drops in each nostril to help loosen any dried mucus. Tilt the head back a little to make sure the drops get up into the nose. Then use a suction bulb immediately afterward to gently withdraw the saline and mucus. Squeeze the bulb before you place it in the nose. When you release the bulb, it will pull out the mucus from inside.
  • Humidifier: Humidifier releases cool mist inside the room. Place it in the room such that the mist reaches the child. Be cautious to keep the humidifier out of the baby’s reach. Make sure to clean the humidifier daily to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. For a workable option, you can even sit in the bathroom with your child under a warm shower running. The warm misty air that the child breathes would help to moisten their nasal passages.
  • Blow their nose: For toddlers, ask your child to blow their nose. Show them how to blow their nose. It might take a few attempts for your child to understand the technique. Place a tissue by your nostrils so that your baby can see the air move the tissue as you exhale.
  • Encourage your child to drink water: Fluids help to loosen the mucus. Hence, sipping some water throughout the day will help. For breastfeeding babies, offer more breast milk because it offers extra protection from cold-causing germs.
  • Using a pillow: Place a pillow under the mattress to keep the child’s head elevated to a slight angle. This may help to drain mucus out of the sinuses. Avoid this method if your child is aged younger than 2 years to avoid the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Wash your hands with soap and water: Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after wiping away the mucus. This would help to prevent the spreading of germs.
  • Steam inhalation: Inhaling steam may help to loosen the mucus. Hence, give your child a steam inhalation.
  • Rest: Give your child plenty of rest to cope with the condition.
  • Exposure to fresh air: Sometimes, a brief exposure to outdoor air will help the child to combat a stuffy nose. Ensure that you dress up the child before taking them outdoors.
  • Wipe it away: Use a wet cotton swab to wipe away sticky mucus.

Use the following remedies with caution:

  • Over the counter cough and cold medicines (not recommended for very young children)
  • Nasal spray for kids aged younger than 2 years
  • Vapor rub that contains eucalyptus oil or menthol

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Medically Reviewed on 1/6/2021
References
Godman H. How to Treat Your Baby’s Stuffy Nose. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/children/features/help-child-stuffy-nose#1

University Hospitals. What to Do For Your Baby's Stuffy Nose. January 22, 2019. https://www.uhhospitals.org/Healthy-at-UH/articles/2019/01/what-to-do-for-a-babys-stuffy-nose