How to Treat a Stuffy Nose in Babies and Toddlers

Your baby is overloaded. What should you do?

For a child under the age of 3, this can be a problem. First, it’s not always obvious what causes nasal congestion. Babies and toddlers often get colds because they are just beginning to develop immunity to common viruses. But there are many other potential causes of congestion.

You are also limited to treatments that can be used on children under 4 years of age. You should not turn to cold medicine for relief. They can be dangerous for babies and toddlers.

Fortunately, there are many safe and effective treatments you can try.

First step

Before you or your pediatrician can decide on a treatment plan, you need to know what causes nasal congestion. And there are many possible reasons.

Nasal congestion occurs when the blood vessels and tissues in the nasal cavity fill with too much fluid. This can make it difficult to sleep and lead to problems such as sinus infections (sinusitis). Your baby may also have trouble feeding if he is overweight.

The color of the mucus does not indicate whether the infection is viral or bacterial.

Instead, the cause of the congestion may be allergies, which will require a visit to the doctor and possibly an allergy test. Nasal congestion can occur even if a piece of food or other object gets into the child’s nose. This, too, requires a visit to the emergency room or your pediatrician. Do not try to remove anything but mucus from your child’s nose yourself.

Sometimes congestion can be a sign of a more serious problem. Nasal congestion due to a cold can often be treated with saline drops, time, and some care. If there are other symptoms, especially fever and thick yellow mucus, call your pediatrician as soon as possible.

Safe treatment

One of the safest and most effective ways to get rid of nasal congestion in a child is a saline (saltwater) spray or nose drops. These products are available without a prescription.

If you are using drops, put two drops in each nostril to loosen the mucus inside. Then, immediately afterward, use suction to remove saline and mucus. You can place a rolled towel under your child’s shoulders so you can tilt your head slightly back to make sure the drops go up to your nose.

Squeeze the pear before placing it in your nose. This way, when you release the bulb, it will draw out the mucus from the inside. If you squeeze the bulb when it is already in the nostril, it releases a jet of air that can push the mucus further into the nasal cavity.

Squeeze out the slime inside the bulb onto a tissue.

Do this about 15 minutes before feeding your baby and at bedtime. This will help your baby breathe easier when he suckles, takes a bottle, or goes to bed.

Some saline solutions also contain medication. Avoid them. Regular saline drops or sprays will work just fine. Just remember to wash and dry the suction bulb after each use.

Steam Solutions

There are other ways to moisturize the nasal passages.

A vaporizer or humidifier that blows cool steam into a room is usually safe if you keep it out of the reach of a child. Place it close enough for the mist to reach your child while they sleep, or while you cuddle together or play in the room.

To avoid mold and bacteria growth, change the water every day and clean and dry the evaporator according to the machine’s instructions.

You can also try this tried-and-tested solution: take your baby to the shower. Let your shower and bath become pleasant and steamy as you cuddle your baby for a few minutes. This can help your child clear their head before bed.

Do not use hot water in the humidifier as this may cause burns.

3 more tips

Follow some of these other steps to help clear your child’s stuffy nose:

  1. Place a pillow under the mattress so that the child’s head is at a slight angle above the feet. This can help clear mucus from the sinuses. If your child is still a baby in a crib, don’t do this. You should remove pillows and other items from their sleeping area to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Most pediatricians recommend doing this until your child is 2 years old.
  2. Encourage your child to drink more water. Fluids help thin the mucus but don’t force it. Even if your child is just drinking more water throughout the day, this will help.
  3. If your toddler is old enough, teach him how to blow his nose. To show them how to do this, exhale through your own nose. Place the tissue near the nostrils so that the child can see how the air moves the tissue as you exhale. Ask them to blow into the fabric in the same way.

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