Seeing your precious little one unwell can be heartbreaking. It’s so hard when they’re not themselves, particularly when they’re struggling with a congested nose – if only they could blow it!
When babies get a stuffy nose, it can make milk feeds, eating, and sleeping incredibly challenging for them.
However, it probably bothers you more than it bothers them. Stuffy noses are common in babies. Often they can cope well with it, and it’s just a matter of waiting it out.
If you’re feeling helpless and a little frustrated (particularly if this is their eighth time this year to be ill!), you can relax because we’ve got you covered with some natural ways to relieve your poor bub’s congestion, plus some tips on keeping them comfortable and the safety precautions to be aware of.
Cold and flu are the usual culprits behind baby congestion. Here are some easy, safe, and effective ways of making your bub more comfortable. The best part is that you probably already have most of these treatments at home, so there’s no need to rush out and buy an expensive gadget.
If you’re producing milk, you have one of the most natural remedies on tap. Squeeze a drop or two in their nose to help loosen the congestion. Let your little one sniff it up, and then place them on their tummy or hold them upright over your shoulder, and the mucus will drain out.
Nasal saline drops/spray
Buy some natural nasal saline solution (ask your pharmacist to recommend a brand for babies). Like with the breast milk treatment, add a drop/spray or two in each nostril to help loosen congestion.
Also unofficially known as ‘snot suckers’, aspirators physically remove the mucus, so are ideal to be used once it’s loosened with either saline drops or breastmilk. There are the basic bulb suction types or pricier electric varieties, but getting them into a wriggly, resistant baby’s nostrils is another thing!
A nice warm bath (get in with them if you can) can not only lift their spirits and soothe any aches if they’re a bit miserable with their stuffy nose, but also when they splash about, the water on their face could help flush out their nostrils. An added tip if you have a separate shower is to have it running hot for a few minutes while they’re in the bath, so the bathroom gets steamy.
Keep them hydrated
If your bub is off their food, ensure they’re getting plenty of fluids. Breast or bottle feed on demand. Feed them in an upright position if possible as it helps to prevent mucus from running down their throat.
Many manufacturers claim that their humidifiers help to relieve congestion in little ones, but there is very little scientific evidence supporting these health claims.
In fact, there are very real risks of children suffering burns from warm mist humidifiers, plus risks if they’re not cleaned properly. Too much humidity can promote the growth of moulds and bacteria.
Vaporisers work in a similar way to a warm mist humidifier but heat and evaporate essential oils.
- If they’re having trouble sleeping, try to encourage rest during the day, and a soothing bedtime routine at night.
- Take a few things off the to-do list and offer lots of extra comfort and cuddles. Your arms are magical remedies for sick babies!
- For bubs on solid foods, offer small and regular meals. Here are some ideas for foods to give sick and recovering babies.
- Let you baby sit up, hold them upright, or encourage tummy time to use the force of gravity to clear out their nose.
- Remove environmental irritants such as dust, pollen, and pet dander, and choose cleaning and laundry products that are natural and non-irritating.
- Cough and cold medicines are not recommended for babies. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about the type and dosage of baby-safe pain relief medications including paracetamol and nurofen.
- The use of wedges, rolled up towels, or elevating cots in any way is not recommended, as propping your baby up may increase the risk of SIDS.
- See your doctor straight away if your baby is under 3 months old and their stuffy nose is making it difficult to breathe comfortably or feed.
- If your baby is over 3 months, see your doctor if the congestion lasts longer than 10 days, if they appear to be in pain, if they have a fever, or a persistent cough.
- Seek urgent medical attention if your baby of any age is struggling for air, including rapid breathing, skin around the ribs sucking in with each breath, nostrils that get larger with each breath, or lips that are turning blue.