Most newborns suffer from nasal congestion at some time in their first few months. While a stuffy nose normally isn’t something that requires a trip to the doctor, it can be tough on a newborn and can cause concern in parents.
Nasal congestion in babies can make it hard for them to eat or breathe and can cause overall discomfort. Fortunately there some simple remedies you can do at home to alleviate newborn nasal congestion and get your little one feeling comfortable again.
Stuffy Nose or Something More Serious?
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For starters, you’ll need to be sure that it’s a stuffy nose that’s bothering your newborn or something else like a cold.
If she’s breathing through her mouth and popping off your breast or the bottle constantly while trying to eat, that is the most telling sign.
When to See Your Doctor
After a few days, if things aren’t getting any better, you’ll need to contact your child’s pediatrician.
If your baby develops a fever, rash, facial swelling, has difficulty breathing or breathes too rapidly, trouble feeding or complete lack of interest in feeding, or is overly fussy and in pain, make a trip to the doctor immediately.
What Causes Nasal Congestion?
The three leading factors that contribute to nasal congestion are:
- Air that is especially dry
- Airborne Pollutants such as dust mites, pollen and even perfume
- A viral infection (such as a cold or the ‘flu).
When Will It Go Away?
The good news is, nasal congestion usually clears up on it’s own and under a week.
It’s often caused by dry air which makes it easier for your baby to catch a cold. Sometimes it’s caused by irritants in the air like dust, pollen, smoke or perfume.
As newborns are still building up their immunity systems, it could be the cause of a cold. If you suspect that’s the cause, check with your child’s pediatrician to be safe.
10 Tips for Newborn Nasal Congestion
1. Clean The Area
Sometimes mucus can become crusted around a baby’s nostril, causing her to be stuffed up.
Try wetting a cotton swab with warm water and using it gently clean the area well, removing all the crusty bits so that she can breathe easier.
2. Pat Her On The Back
Gently patting a baby’s back can help ease nasal congestion in babies by breaking up the mucus in their chest.
For best results try laying her across your knees as you gently pat her on the back. Doing this to break up the mucus can aid her in being able to cough it up and get rid of it.
3. Buy A Nursery Humidifier
A nursery humidifier help improve air quality and prevent sickness. The extra moisture it provides will also help loosen the mucus that is blocking your newborn’s nose.
If you’re thinking of buying one, look for a model that is especially quiet. Some humidifiers are quite nosy and can keep baby awake. This kind of defeats the purpose of improving their overall health.
4. A Bowl Of Hot Water In The Nursery
If you don’t have a humidifier for the nursery, you can always leave a large bowl of warm water in the room. This will also help add moisture to the air and help break up mucus.
5. Steam Up The Bathroom
Don’t have a vaporizer or humidifier? Try steaming up the bathroom by running a hot shower, and then sit in the steamy bathroom with your baby (but don’t take your baby in the hot shower – that’s dangerous!).
The steam will have the same effect as a vaporizer or humidifier would and can help clear her nasal congestion.
6. Raise The Crib Mattress
Sleeping with your head elevated can help you breathe better and get a good night’s sleep. Since it is dangerous for babies to sleep with a pillow due to the risk of SIDS, try elevating her head a little while she is sleeping.
You can do this by slightly elevating the head of her crib mattress instead. Place a rolled up towel or small blanket under the head of the mattress to raise it up slightly. Be careful to only raise it slightly.
If you raise it too much, she might slide down to the other end of the mattress during the night and this could be dangerous.
7. Use A Vapor Rub
Another great way to help with nasal congestion is use a vapor rub formulated for babies.
It’s safe to use and rubbing it on their chest can help clear congestion.
8. Give Saline Drops / Saline Spray
Saline nasal drops are available over-the-counter and are the only type of nasal drops you should use with your baby. That being said, they work well to break up mucus so that it can make its way out of your baby’s nose.
For best results, lay your baby down on her back and gently tilt her head back a little, then put two drops of the saline solution in each nostril.
Don’t fret if your baby sneezes some of it out, a good amount most likely made its way into her nasal passage.
Because nasal saline drops are safe to use in babies, you can use them as many times as you need to for your baby’s stuffy nose.
9. Use a Baby Aspirator
Many parents are turning to baby aspirators to help clear nasal congestion. These basically work like syringes and will use air to help clear a baby’s stuffy nose.
There are three main types of aspirators:
- The nasal “bulb” type you pump
- The “Snotsucker” type which you suck.
- The “Mini-Vacuum” Type (pictured) that is battery powered and assists your own sucking.
Once you get used to the idea, sucking out your baby’s snot is a great idea. And yes, that sentence was weird to write!
The last thing you want to do is put some high-powered vacuum up their nose and hurt your little one. At least when you suck you can control the force and monitor your baby the whole time.
There are a number of nasal aspirators on the market to choose from. For my own baby, I didn’t choose the “bulb types”. They don’t seem especially hygienic and more of a “Use once and throw away” sort of thing.
The top rated aspirators don’t cost that much more than the bulb types. They are waterproof and you can get replacement nasal tips for them as well.
10. Try A Combination Of The Above
Many parents report a lot of success with nasal congestion using saline drops first and then an aspirator. Some go straight to the aspirator. Much will depend on your little one and how comfortable they find one method over the other.
Any of these newborn congestion tips can help ease your baby’s stuffy nose, but don’t fret too much over your baby’s nasal congestion.
As long as your baby is eating well it’s o.k to just wait it out until the congestion passes – she’ll be her usual happy self before you know it!