Last updated on Jun 11th, 2021 at 12:16 pm

Allergies, a cold and the flu can all cause a baby to have a blocked or stuffy nose. This is very uncomfortable for them, especially because they are unable to blow their nose (most children are only able to do this from the age of about four).

In healthy babies and toddlers, mucous moisturises and cleans the nasal membrane, but when illness occurs or when there are environmental irritants that cause allergies, such as pollen, pollution or smoke, the mucous production in the nose increases and often becomes thicker, resulting in a stuffy nose.

How to clear a blocked nose

  1. Use a saline solution: Saline solution is safe to use on babies and toddlers. Tilt back the baby’s head so that the nostrils are easily accessible and the baby is comfortable. Gently administer a drop into each nostril. Wait a minute or two for the solution to flow into the nasal passages. The baby may sneeze or cough out the mucous. If the baby doesn’t, use a nasal aspirator to draw out the mucous, which should be looser due to the saline solution. Keep tissues handy.
  2. Use an aspirator if the mucous is already loose: An aspirator is a wonderful tool for clearing a snotty nose. Ensure that the aspirator is clean and dry and that you have washed your hands before using it. Place the tip at the opening of the nostril and gently clear the mucous. Do the same in the other nostril. Use tissues to clear away the mucous. Wash the aspirator immediately after use.
  3. Administer a topical nasal decongestant: For babies aged one month to a year, topical nasal decongestants offer relief. Due to the fact that they are administered at the area of discomfort, and not ingested, topical nasal decongestants have minimal side effects and risks. They open the airways to help the child breathe and often also reduce swelling and limit the production of mucous, keeping the nose clearer for longer. A paediatrician or a doctor should be consulted before administering a topical nasal decongestant. Also, don’t use the same bottle on multiple children as this can pass germs on from one child to the other. Ensure that you use the correct decongestant strength and dosage for the child’s age.
  4. Place a humidifier in the room at night, while the baby sleeps: A humidifier will help moisten the air, especially in areas of the country that are usually dry, and help the child breathe easier.

For more information consult your Health Care Practitioner.

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