how to clear baby's blocked nose
Health

How to clear baby’s blocked nose

Clearing your baby’s stuffed up nose will make it easier for her to breathe, eat and sleep. Here is how to do it safely.

A blocked nose (snuffles) is common in babies under six months old. It is usually due to normal mucus that collects in the nose, which is difficult for the baby to clear. No treatment is required if the baby is otherwise well and feeding well.

What causes a stuffy nose?

Snuffles are not caused by colds or infections – although an infection can make things worse. A baby who just has snuffles will be otherwise well, but may snort when breathing. However, feeding can sometimes become difficult if the baby cannot breathe very well through his nose.

Keeping a baby’s nose clean can help to prevent bronchiolitis from developing. Bronchiolitis is a common viral infection, which affects about a third of babies in their first year. Babies are most likely to get it in the winter months. It occurs when the smallest airways of the lungs get infected, becoming swollen and filled with mucus. This blocks the flow of air, making it harder for a baby to breathe.

How to clear baby’s blocked nose

General measures

Nothing needs to be done if the baby is happy and able to feed. However, the following may help if feeding becomes difficult:

  • Try placing a bowl of warm water in the room where the baby sleeps. This raises the humidity which may help to loosen thick mucus.
  • Try giving smaller but more frequent feeds.

Saline (salt water) nose drops

Saline drops may be useful as they thin out the mucus and so make it easier for the baby to clear the mucus from the nose. (Saline seems to work better than just plain water.)

You can buy saline drops from a pharmacist who can also advise on how to use them. Only use the drops just before feeds, and only if the nose is blocked.

How to use saline nose drops:

Lay your child on his or her back, placing a rolled towel underneath the shoulders. Put two or three saline nose drops into each nostril. Wait 30 – 60 seconds.

Turn the child on the stomach to help the mucus drain. Try to catch the discharge outside the nostril on a tissue or swab.

Roll the tissue or swab around, and pull the discharge out of the nose. Do not insert a cotton swab into the child’s nostrils.

Nasal aspirators

Nasal aspirators are a gentle, medication-free way of easing your little one’s stuffy nose. They provide soft suction to reduce congestion and help your baby breathe easily again.

Visit your GP

Most babies with snuffles come to no harm and feed well, but perhaps more slowly and with more difficulty than you would like. If you are concerned that feeding is a problem then see your health visitor or doctor.

For example, as a last resort, your doctor may prescribe a decongestant nasal drop to use for a few days if feeding is particularly difficult. However, do not give your baby decongestant nose drops unless advised to do so from a doctor, and only for the time prescribed. (Decongestant drops used for too long can cause problems.)

These measures should help – and don’t forget lots of hugs and cuddles!

More like this:

Relief for baby’s blocked nose
How to boost immunity
First aid essentials

ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….