Newborns have a narrow nasal passage, which could lead to stuffy breathing at times. They are obligate nose breathers, initially, and tend to turn uncomfortable in case of a stuffy nose. So, it is necessary to ensure that your little one has a clean nasal cavity which would help him breathe well, acquire adequate nutrition (by nursing without hassles), have a restful sleep, and be comfortable. Additionally, clearing the nasal passage would help in reducing the number of infections.
However, it is a challenging task to clean the baby’s nose. MomJunction tries to make this mammoth task easier.
Different Ways To Clean Your Baby Nose
A natural way of cleaning the baby’s nasal cavity is by making him sneeze. This expels the blockage and removes the excess mucus build-ups in the nose. If the infant is still uncomfortable by this natural process, a nasal wash is better.
Note that the use of medications like decongestants is a big ‘no’ for babies as these dry up mucous and even plug the drainage system, besides causing sleeplessness. If antihistamines are used as medication, they may cause sedation and thicken the discharge. So you can try the below steps to clean your baby’s nose.
1. Saline Nasal Spray
Using a saline nasal spray is the safest option for infants, babies, and toddlers. The usage is simple. Just lay the baby down, tilt the head back carefully, and squeeze two or three drops of saline nasal spray into each nostril. It would relieve the congestion and clear the nose (1).
2. Baby Nasal Cleaners
Products like rubber bulb syringe or nasal aspirator can efficiently remove mucus from the baby’s nose. A baby nasal cleaner can offer relief to babies, but using the right solution is the key. For babies less than three to six months, use an isotonic (milder) solution. In older babies, using a slightly hypertonic (stronger) solution is good. You can buy the nasal saline solution at medical stores or prepare one at home.
How To Make Nasal Saline For Babies?
Mucus can be thick. It can be thinned with the salt water solution to make it easier to remove. This, however, should not be used more than four times a day for suctioning (2). Method of preparation:
- Mix one-fourth teaspoon table salt in a cup of boiled water.
- Let it cool to room temperature. Store it in a clean and covered bottle.
- Label the bottle with the date of preparation and discard after three days.
How To Clean Baby Nose Using Saline Drops?
- Lay your baby down on a soft towel with head slightly tilted upward.
- Put two to three drops of saline water into the baby’s nose with a dropper. Wait for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Turn around the baby onto his stomach to let the nose drain. Collect mucus on a tissue.
- Gently wipe around the nostrils without putting the tissue deep into the baby’s nose. Clean the dropper after every use.
How To Clean Baby Nose Using A Rubber Bulb Syringe?
- Put the baby in the sitting position. Squeeze air out of the rubber bulb and hold the bulb pinched.
- Place the syringe tip just inside the nostril without going deep. Release the bulb pressure to let mucus the suction out.
- Bring out the syringe from the baby’s nostril and remove mucus on a tissue.
- Rinse the bulb with clean water before using it again.
How To Clean Baby Nose Using A Nasal Aspirator?
Nasal aspirator comprises a nozzle, a lengthy piece of soft tubing, and a mouthpiece. These three are connected with the tube in the middle. The process of usage is similar to that of the bulb syringe, except that the mouthpiece is used for suction. Some parents find nasal aspirator less invasive, more efficient, and easier to use compared to the bulb syringe.
Follow these steps to clean baby nose using a nasal aspirator:
- Add saline drops into the baby’s nose and see if it clears the congestion.
- If you still find a stuffy nose, place the nozzle tip into the baby’s nostril and the mouthpiece into your mouth.
- By applying gentle suction with your mouthpiece, suck out mucus from the baby’s nose into the nozzle.
- A filter present in the tube ensures that you do not inhale germs.
12 Precautions And Tips To Use A Rubber Bulb Syringe Or Nasal Aspirator
- The process should be gentle. Aggressive suctioning may inflame or cause bleeding in the nasal tissues, which can make the congestion worse.
- Suctioning the baby nose more than twice or thrice each day means damaging and irritating its lining. So avoid it.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before you begin the process. If you cannot wash, at least use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Do not squeeze more than two or three drops of solution into the baby nose.
- Do not worry if the baby sneezes out some solution. It will still make way into the nostril.
- Do not use saline drops for more than four continuous days to avoid drying out the nose and make it worse.
- In case the baby resists vigorously, try after some time.
- While buying a nasal aspirator ensure to buy ones that are specially designed for baby’s tiny nostrils.
- These products have complete ‘how to use directions’. Follow them. Get familiar with the product before using. Test the suction by placing the aspirator against your fingertip.
- After aspirating, remove the nozzle in the downward direction and not the upward direction, i.e., towards the eyes.
- After usage, clean all the parts of the devices and syringe well with warm soapy water. Squeeze the tip of the bulb to shake away the soap water.
- Rinse well in warm water and dry by suspending the syringe in a glass with the tip side down.
3. Nasopharyngeal (NP) Suctioning
Nasopharyngeal (NP) Suctioning is done by a nurse, doctor, or respiratory therapist in few cases:
- If the mucus cannot be removed with a bulb syringe or aspirator.
- If your baby has abnormal breathing sounds.
- If the baby needs more oxygen.
- If the baby finds difficulty in eating and breathing simultaneously.
Like other suctioning procedures, salt-water solution is used to loosen the mucus, making it moist. A small suction tube, connected to a suction device is gently placed in the baby’s nose until it touches the back of the throat. This will make the baby cough, which brings up the mucus to the back of the throat. The suction is applied to get rid of the mucus, and then the tube is gently pulled out of the nose. The procedure is repeated many times a day until the baby’s nose is clear.
Note: Frequent NP suctioning may lead to swelling inside the baby’s nose or mild nosebleed. If this happens, smaller suction tube or neosucker can be used. If the procedure is followed within 30 minutes of eating, it may lead to vomiting. The procedure may cause discomfort to your baby while it is being done.
4. Steam Clean
Run a hot shower in the bathroom for a few minutes and allow the bathroom to become steamy. Sit there for a while with the baby. It may loosen up the congestion. To help the baby breath quickly, give extra fluids during the day and run a vaporizer. This way the secretions become thinner and it becomes easy for the baby to cough or sneeze.
5. Elevate The Head Of The Mattress Or Run Cool Air Humidifier
Breathing can be easy through a stuffy nose when we sleep with the head slightly raised. Place a towel below the baby’s head in the crib to raise it slightly. This would offer some relief to the baby during the bed or nap-time. Extremely dry air can dry up the sensitive lining of the nose. While the baby sleeps, run a cold air humidifier in her room to offer relief and prevent stuffiness.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. When should I suction and clean my baby’s nose?
- If the baby has difficulty breathing.
- Has a noisy breathing due to excess mucus.
- Before bedtime or before feeding or nursing. Suctioning soon after a feed may lead to vomiting (3).
Q. Can I clean baby’s nose while bathing?
You can clean your baby’s nose during his bath-time by gently wiping around the nostrils with cotton balls soaked in warm water. It is not advisable to insert anything in the baby’s nostrils to avoid any possible damage to the lining in the nose (4).
Hope you now have enough information to clean your baby’s nose in a safe manner. Relax and choose an appropriate method to clean the nose of your baby. It is advisable to check with your doctor before choosing one.
Also, do share your experience or tips that can help make the process easy for other mothers. We would love to hear from you.
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