Nasal congestion or stuffy nose happens when the tissues inside the nose swell or produce mucus. A newborn with a stuffy nose may snort when breathing and sound "snuffly." He may start breathing through his mouth, which can make it harder for him to feed. In rare cases, a stuffy nose can cause breathing problems. Usually, nasal congestion goes away on its own within a week.
What causes stuffy nose in babies?
irritants such as dust, cigarette smoke, or perfumes
viral colds or other infections
If your baby is having persistent difficulty breathing or feeding, or the problem is continuing despite trying the measures below, check with your baby’s doctor to rule out any serious infection or condition that may be causing the stuffy nose.
How to clear your child’s stuffy nose
Run a humidifier or cool-mist vaporizer near your baby’s crib
The water vapour can help moisten and loosen the mucus inside your baby’s nose. Clean out and refill the vaporizer every day.
You can also steam up the bathroom shower and bring your child in there before bed.
Clearing mucus using saline nose drops
You can help clear your baby’s stuffy nose with saline (salt water) nose drops. Saline is a balanced salt solution that will not irritate the sensitive lining of the nose.
You can buy saline drops at the drugstore. You can also make your own by mixing 1/4 teaspoon of salt into 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Higher salt concentrations will irritate the nose. Make fresh drops daily.
Lay your child on his back. Place a rolled towel or a small blanket beneath his shoulders or gently press on the tip of the nose to make it easier for the drops to go in.
Put 2 or 3 saltwater nose drops into each nostril. Wait 30 to 60 seconds.
Turn your child onto his stomach to help drain. Catch the mucus outside the nostril with a tissue or swab. Your baby might cough or sneeze the mucus and saline out.
Roll the swab or tissue around the outside of the nostril and pull the fluid out of the nose. Do not insert a cotton swab into your child’s nostrils.
Clearing mucus using an infant nasal suction bulb
If you have trouble removing the mucus, try using an infant nasal bulb (aspirator).
Pinch the air out of the bulb.
Gently place the tip into the nostril, just inside the opening. Do not go too deep. Let the air come back into the bulb, pulling the mucus out of the nose with it.
Release the mucus onto a tissue.
Rinse the bulb well with fresh water before and after each use.
When to seek medical help
Call your doctor if your child develops any of the following symptoms:
A stuffy nose together with swelling of the forehead, eyes, side of the nose, or cheek.
A stuffy nose that lasts longer than two weeks.
Difficulty breathing even after suctioning.
Significant trouble feeding.
Your baby is extremely fussy or seems to be in pain.
Nasal congestion or stuffy nose happens when the tissues inside the nose swell.
Usually, nasal congestion goes away on its own within a week.
Use saltwater nasal drops or an infant nasal suction bulb to help clear mucus from your baby’s nose
If your baby has trouble breathing after suctioning, see your doctor right away