5 Ways to Treat Your Baby's Stuffy Nose

From the WebMD Archives

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, it can give them a stuffy head. It can also make it hard to eat or breathe. A few home treatments can make your little one comfortable again.

1. Try Saline (Saltwater) Drops

You can buy this at the store. Put a few drops into each nostril, and then use a bulb syringe to remove some mucus. It's safe to repeat this as often as you need. And if you do it right before your baby eats, it will make mealtime easier.

There's one catch, though. It works best if your kid is under 6 months. Older babies may get fussy when you use the bulb. If that happens, it's OK to skip that part. The saline drops thin the mucus, so you can let it work itself out of their nose on its own.

Here's how to use the bulb the right way:

  1. Squeeze the syringe first.
  2. Place the tip gently into your baby's nostril.
  3. Release the bulb slowly.
  4. 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. To clean it safely, wet a cotton swab with warm water and gently wipe the area.

3. Vaporize

Place a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier in your baby's room to add moisture to the air. It helps clear their stuffy nose. Clean the machine regularly so mold doesn't grow inside it.

You can get the same soothing effect if you and your baby sit in a steamy bathroom.

4. Give Love Pats

Gentle taps on your baby's back can help ease chest congestion. Lay them down across your knees and gently pat their back with your cupped hand. Or do it while they sit on your lap with their body leading forward about 30 degrees. It loosens mucus in the chest and makes it easier for them to 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 eats and drinks normally, it's fine to wait and watch.

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 which drugs are OK to use.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on May 19, 2015



AAP News: "Simple Remedies Often Best for Common Colds in Young Children."

CDC: "Runny Nose Q&A."

HealthyChildren.org: "Caring for a Child With a Viral Infection," "Children and Colds," "Coughs and Colds: Medicines or Home Remedies?"

Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, pediatrician; spokeswoman, American Academy of Pediatrics.

© 2013 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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