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What to Do If Your Baby Has Nasal Congestion

Babies, especially newborns, are delicate creatures. This is why a stuffy nose causes us to spring into action, scrambling to clear our babies’ airways before they find it hard to breathe.

As troubling as that thought is, nasal congestion is a common condition for newborn babies and infants. It passes fairly quickly and is harmless. Most of the time.

The good news is that a parent can take plenty of steps to alleviate their child’s stuffy nose and keep them breathing normally.

Let’s discuss what nasal congestion is, why your children get it, and how to treat it quickly from the comfort of your own home.

We will also go through the different treatment methods and how to best keep your baby’s nasal passages clear.

What is Nasal Congestion?

Nasal congestion, also known as a stuffy nose, is a medical condition where irritations cause the blood vessels and tissues inside the nose to swell.

This sudden mucus development closes the nostrils, making it harder to breathe. It can also lead to trouble feeding and sinusitis if it gets worse.

Common infections like flu, sinusitis, and the common cold can cause congestion. Even allergies can cause congestive swelling. Irritants in the environment also create blockages.

Although babies are more susceptible to getting a stuffy nose and experience more adverse effects, these conditions are shared between children and adults.

Common Causes of Nasal Congestion in Babies

Newborn babies get stuffy noses for various reasons, which is why it’s such a common condition for them to have. Here are some of the most common causes of baby nasal congestion:

The first cause of a stuffy nose is leftover amniotic fluid stuck in the newborn’s noses after they’re born. This causes snuffling and sneezing as they try to get it out.

Dry air, viral infections, allergies, and exposure to irritants also cause stuffy noses and may lead to other conditions like fevers, rashes, inflammation, and more.

Fortunately, this condition is temporary and passes in a week when allowed to run its course. You will need to apply a treatment like a saline solution when the symptoms worsen.

Treating Your Babies’ Stuffy Nose: Steps to Take

Now that we know what causes these blockages of your baby’s nose, let’s go through how to relieve their pain and help them breathe again.

These steps are all safe and easy and are meant to be done at home. They can clear up congestions quickly and efficiently with enough care and attention.

It is important to note that the best practice is to consult with your doctor when the situation fails to improve or when your baby’s breathing worsens.

Clear the Congestion with a Saline Solution

The most effective and highly recommended solution is to apply 2-3 drops of saline solution in each nostril to excite the mucus, allowing it to leave their noses.

Be gentle when you wipe away the mucus and saline and turn them over to drain the fluids.

Use a Vaporiser or Humidifier to Loosen the Mucus

If the mucus hangs on for dear life and won’t leave the nose without a fight, air them out with a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier to get rid of their dry and stuffy nose.

This allows the mucus to soften and provides lubrication in the nose to drag out the accumulated mucus.

We recommend Vicks Vapopads for nasal congestion, as it creates a calming, smooth sensation that opens airways and helps with breathing when inserted in a humidifier.

Extract the Mucus

If the mucus still doesn’t leave, you will need to drag it out with a suction bulb or aspirator.

When using the bulb, press all the air out before placing the tip at the nose entrance. Let go of the bulb to suck in all the mucus. Push out and dispose of it.

If you need to use an aspirator, insert the tube gently into the nostril before manually sucking the mucus out with your mouth. This will trap the mucus for easy clean-up.

External Solutions

If your child is older than 3 months, you can give them sips of water throughout the day. You can teach them how to blow their noses and elevate their heads slightly as they sleep to drain mucus.

Observe and Wait it Out

If your baby is not disturbed by their stuffy nose, simply let it pass. Not every congestion needs to be acted on. If your baby is alright, it should pass in a week.

In general, treatments revolve around removing the mucus build-up.

When to See Your Paediatrician

While there are plenty of effective home remedies and treatments that work wonders on your baby’s nasal passages, there are times when you will need to take them to the doctor straight away.

Here are a few tell-tale signs that it’s time to strap in and head to the hospital to treat your baby’s stuffy nose:

  • The stuffy nose lasts longer than 2 weeks.
  • Your baby is fussy and appears to be in pain.
  • Your baby develops a fever and rashes.
  • The swelling spreads past the nose to the forehead, eyes, cheeks, and the rest of their face.
  • They cannot feed because they’re breathing through their mouths and cough frequently.
  • They have difficulty breathing or are breathing quickly.

If you are unsure about how bad your baby’s congestion is, consult with your doctor as soon as possible.

They will check on the baby’s breathing, temperature, vitals, and even unusual symptoms or signs of infection. They may even order an x-ray scan if the cause is still unclear.


As stressful as your baby getting nasal congestion can be, the best thing to do is to stay calm, recognise the problem, clear their airways, and minimise swelling.

Once this happens, simply let the mucus run its course and clear itself out. Should that not work, it’s best to consult your doctor or head to the hospital, especially when other factors mix in.