How to treat congestion in babies

The Pediatric Insider

© 2013 Roy Benaroch, MD

Life isn’t easy for babies. You can’t talk, and to get anywhere you have to wave your arms around and hope someone carries you. Perhaps worst of all, when you’ve got a cold your little nose gets so stuffy, it’s miserable.

Face it: no matter how smart your baby is, she probably hasn’t figured out how to blow her nose. Are there any practical ways to help unstuff congested baby?

  • Keep the room humid, using a cool-mist humidifier or a warm vaporizer. Moist air prevents mucus from getting stick and sticky and harder to move.
  • Try using a few drops of nasal saline. You can buy a little bottle at the drug store, or make it yourself.  Squirt or drip a few drops of this up each nostril to loosen mucus. You can repeat this as often as you’d like.
  • A nasal bulb aspirator can help pull out at least some of the mucus. Remember, first squeeze it, then gently press the tip against the nose opening, then let go so it sucks out the yuck.
  • Gently inclining the bed can help, but it’s not a good idea to routinely let babies sleep in a car seat, bouncy seat, or other device that holds them upright.
  • Vapor-rubs like “Vicks” might help some with congestion, though good studies haven’t been done, especially in young babies. If you want to try a product like this, it’s essential that your baby NOT be able to eat or lick any of the rub. It’s very toxic if ingested.

Fortunately, even the most congestion baby usually feels much better in a day or two. If your congested baby is acting ill, having trouble nursing, having any trouble breathing, or isn’t improving in a few days it’s a good idea to head to the doctor.

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2 Comments on “How to treat congestion in babies”

  1. Alexis Says:

    I found we had to make our baby’s bedroom like the Amazon rainforest for the humidity to work but work it did! Of course we live in VT where the humidity stays close to -0- in the winter so getting that room to feel like a hot fog bank was no small task. In fact thinking of it makes me really grateful my kids are now old enough to blow their own noses 😉

    Like

  2. Dr. Roy Says:

    Ah, Amazon rainforest bedroom reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wg_L0wGTyA. Lime in the coconut helps congestion, too!

    Like


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