Nasal congestion | How to clear your baby’s nose

Registered midwife Philippa Hime gives advice on how to clear your baby’s nose if he has nasal congestion.


Babies often suffer from nasal congestion. This can worsen during the winter months or changes in season. Your little one is unable to tell you that he’s blocked up and he can’t take care of the matter himself by sniffing or blowing his nose, so he’s entirely reliant on you to help him out.

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How do you know your baby has nasal congestion?

Often the first sign is visible mucus. Your baby may, however, have a blocked or congested nose that you’re unable to see. He may tend to fuss during feeds by coming on and off the breast, or pushing out his bottle. This can be confusing to a mom as you may think he’s not hungry. Actually, what may be happening is that he’s not able to breathe through his nose and comes on and off the breast or bottle to do this.

How can I help my baby?

You can start by using a gentle saline spray or drops in his nose. Do this regularly throughout the day as needed. It’s a good idea to do this before a feed. Your baby may sneeze a bit after applying the spray or drops, but this is his way of mobilising his secretions and attempting to clear the passage. If anything surfaces, gently remove it with a clean tissue or pick it out with clean hands. If these measures are not enough, you can make use of one of the many “snolly suckers” available on the market. This can vary from a simple bulb-like nasal aspirator to high-tech machinery that can attach to a vacuum cleaner. All of these products make use of some degree of suction to remove the mucus out of your baby’s nose and clear his airways. Most babies tend to protest at this process but are generally more comfortable after a good “suction” session.


Something more serious

Look out for a change in colour of the mucus (from clear to a yellow/green colour), laboured breathing and/or a temperature. If the congestion persists and your baby appears ill, take him to your doctor or clinic sister for a check-up.

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