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Nasal Congestion

Nasal congestion in babies is, unfortunately, quite common. This condition is more bothersome in newborns, as they are actually nasal breathers from the early neonatal period to about 2 months of age or so. Congestion happens when baby's nasal passages are blocked by mucus. This is typically a symptom of cold, allergy or teething. It clears up with the associated condition. Most healthy babies have six colds or more before age 1. A baby will insist on breathing through the nose, even when it is blocked. Therefor a clear nose is essential to nursing or bottle-feeding as the baby either has the teat or nipple in his/her mouth. A blocked nose can make feeding time difficult, as the baby may become irritable.

Congestion can occur as part of a cold and if accompanied by other symptoms of a cold, you may need to consult your doctor.


• Difficulty with feeding

• Crying or becoming agitated

• Nasal discharge

• Noisy nasal breathing

• Difficulty sleeping

• Possibility of fever

• Greater comfort when sitting upright

• Snoring

• Snorting

• Sneezing

• Coughing


• Viral infections caused by close proximity to other infected adults or children can trigger the common cold.

• Acid reflux

• Sinusitis/adenoiditis (secondary bacterial infection)

• Allergies (especially in children over 2 years of age) can cause a runny or blocked nose.

• In the winter or autumn months, indoor heating may dry the nasal passages, making it easier for a cold virus to occur.


The symptoms in a typical virus can last for three to seven days. Since children are prone to viral infections, there may appear to be short intervals between sickness and wellness, as children may have as many as 10 to 12 viral/cold infections per year.

When your baby needs doctor's attention?

If the nasal congestion is causing your child difficulties, particularly with their breathing (especially a young infant) or if there is a fever or malaise or the condition continues for a number of days, you should always have your child examined by your doctor. If your baby is 3 months or older, call the doctor if he or she:

• Isn't wetting as many diapers as usual

• Has a temperature higher than 100 F for more than three days

• Seems to be tugging at her ears

• Has yellow eye discharge

• Has a cough for more than one week

• Has thick, green nasal discharge for more than two weeks

Relief through your efforts?

Bulb syringe or saline drops

Use a nasal bulb syringe to remove loose mucus from the baby's nostrils. Squeeze the bulb. Insert the tube into one nostril. Release the bulb and withdraw the tube. Expel the mucus into a napkin or tissue. Repeat with the other nostril.

Use saline drops provided by baby's doctor to lubricate nasal passages lined with dry or thick mucus. Place one drop inside each nostril. Your baby might start crying. These should only be used on a short-term basis as over-use may dry out the nasal passages.
Wipe baby's runny nose with soft cloth and keep areas around nose moist using baby emollient to prevent chafing.

Moisten the air
Humidifiers, which provide a warm vapor to moisten the atmosphere, can be used to ensure that the baby s nasal passages are kept moist and free of congestion. If using a humidifier, make it is placed safely and out of the reach of any children, as it will be full of vaporising water. Aim the mist away from your baby's crib to keep the bedding from becoming damp. To prevent mold growth, change the water daily and follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning the unit.

Sleeping in an elevated position

Let the baby sleep upright ' in a car seat, swing or lying on a parent's chest.


Do not use over-the-counter medicine such as pain relievers or decongestants without consulting your baby's doctor first, especially in babies aged three months and below.


Colds typically cause congestion and it is spread through droplets coughed or sneezed into the air. Common sense and plenty of soap and water is the clear defense.

• Keep your baby away from anyone who's sick, especially during the first few days of illness. If possible, avoid public transportation with your newborn.

• Wash your hands before feeding or caring for your baby. When soap and water aren't available, use sanitizers.

• Clean your baby's toys and pacifiers often.

• Encourage every family member to practice hygiene.


The signs of a cold are:

• Congested and runny nose

• Clear nasal discharge that may thicken and turn green

• After a few days, the discharge becomes clear and runny again

• A low grade fever in the first few days of a cold

• You baby may sneeze, cough, develop a hoarse voice or have red eyes

The signs of an allergy are:

• Itchy, watery eyes

• Repeated sneezing attacks

• Possible itchy skin

• Clear mucus

• No fever


Stuffy noses tend to linger for a few weeks, even when the cold is over. Since babies can't blow their noses you need to provide the appropriate help. As babies below 4 months breathe mainly through their nasal passages rather than their mouth, it is important that such a problem does not persist. Babies prone to nasal congestion should always be kept in a well-ventilated environment, which is neither too "stuffy" nor too cold. Never place your infant in aggravating situations such as dusty or smoky environments.

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Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
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