Easing a sniffly baby's stuffy nose can make both baby and parents feel better.
However, nasal sprays and cough and cold medicines are not recommended for children under age 2.
So, here’s what you can do for babies or infants who are too young to blow their nose:
- Buy saltwater (saline) nose drops or make your own by stirring 1/4 teaspoon of salt into 1/2 cup lukewarm water (make this fresh every day).
- Lay your child on his or her back, placing a rolled towel underneath the shoulders. Put 2 or 3 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.
- You can use an infant nasal bulb (aspirator) to help remove the mucus. Squeeze the air out of the bulb and then gently place the tip into the nostril. Let the air come back into the bulb, pulling the mucus out of the nose with it. Squeeze the mucus onto a tissue.
Other tips to help infants and younger children include:
- Raise the head of your child's bed. Put a pillow underneath the head of the mattress. Or, place books or boards under the legs at the head of the bed.
- Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids. Breast-feed or formula-feed young infants often. Older children may drink extra fluids, but those fluids should be sugar-free.
- You can try a cool-mist vaporizer, but avoid putting too much moisture in the room. Clean the vaporizer every day with bleach or Lysol.
- You can also steam up the bathroom shower and bring your child in there before bed.
Call your doctor if you or your child has any of the following:
- A stuffy nose along with swelling of the forehead, eyes, side of the nose, or cheek.
- A stuffy nose along with blurred vision
- Increased throat pain, or white or yellow spots on the tonsils or other parts of the throat
- Coughing episodes that last longer than 10 days
- A cough that produces yellow-green or gray mucus
- A stuffy nose that lasts longer than 2 weeks and significantly interferes with your life
Source: Medline Plus, a service of the US National Library of Medicines, November 2009