Believe it or not, a runny nose can be a good thing. It's the body's way of getting rid of germs. But when your baby has too much mucus in his nose or sinuses, it can give him a stuffy head and congestion.
But with a few home treatments, you can help keep your baby comfortable.
1. Try Saline Drops
For a stuffy head, try using saline (saltwater) drops to help thin the mucus. Put a few drops into each nostril and then use a bulb syringe to remove the extra mucus. It's safe to repeat these steps as often as needed. And if you suck mucus out right before your baby eats, it will make mealtime easier.
This method works best on babies under 6 months because older babies may get fussy about the bulb.
You can buy saline drops at a store. To use a bulb syringe correctly, squeeze the syringe first, then place the tip gently into your baby's nostril and release the bulb slowly. Wash it with soap and water after each use.
2. Remove the Sticky Stuff
Sometimes mucus hardens into a crusty or sticky mess around your baby's nose. This can feel uncomfortable to your baby. To safely clean his nose, wet a cotton swab with warm water and gently wipe the area.
Place a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier in your baby's room to add moisture to the air. Moist air helps clear stuffy nasal passages. Just make sure to clean the humidifier regularly so mold doesn't grow inside it. You can get the same soothing effect by sitting in a steamy bathroom with your baby.
4. Give Love Pats
Gentle pats on your baby's back can help ease chest congestion. Lay your baby down across your knees and gently tap his back with your cupped hand. Or sit your baby on your lap, with his body leaning forward about 30 degrees and pat his back. This patting can help loosen mucus in the chest and help your baby cough it up.
5. Know When to Wait It Out
Not every stuffy, runny nose needs treatment. If it's not bothering your baby, you don't have to do anything. As long as your little one is active and eating and drinking normally, it's fine to wait and watch. If the congestion or runny nose starts to get in the way of your child's activity, then work on relieving symptoms.
Don't give cough and cold medicines to kids under age 4. If your child is between 4 and 6, talk to your doctor about what medicine you can give to ease symptoms.