A stuffy nose can make your child miserable, who can’t breathe or eat. Unplug the snot with these home remedies for nasal congestion in babies and toddlers.
Have you ever dealt with a baby with a blocked nose? If you have, you have experienced one of the most trying times in parenthood!
A baby with a blocked nose is more than miserable. For infants, the natural tendency is to breathe through the nose, even if it’s blocked, unlike adults who can use their mouth. This makes it near impossible for them to suck as well, which can lead to weight loss and more seriously, dehydration.
Causes of Nasal Congestion
- Newborn’s nasal passages are very small and even a tiny thing from the air or aspirated breast milk can cause a congestion
- Viral infections are the most common cause for nasal congestion, usually from cough and cold
- Bacterial infections may also cause congestion in some cases
- Certain allergies may result in a blocked nose
- Seasonal conditions can result in nasal congestion; they tend to increase during winter
- Those who get frequent congestion episodes may have sinusitis or nasal deformities like a deviated septum or nasal polyps
Even though mucus seems like the villain here, it’s actually the body’s hero. Our bodies have natural mechanisms to prevent germs or dirt from entering but when it gets overwhelmed, the body puts them all into a slimy substance and tries to push it out through the nose or mouth.
That is why it’s always advised NOT to take OTC medications for a blocked nose, since you are then blocking the body’s natural healing process. Instead, the best way to tackle it is to assist the body’s natural process, and help get the mucus out so that everyone can breathe easy. For this purpose, here are 20 popular and effective home remedies for nasal congestion in babies and toddlers – free from chemicals and side effects!
20 Home Remedies for Nasal Congestion in Babies and Toddlers
This might sound odd, breastfeeding a baby who can’t suck, but it’s still the best way for baby’s recovery. The mother’s body knows exactly what the baby needs when its sick, and produces the necessary substances in breast milk. So whatever a baby needs to fight the current infection, it can get from breast milk, while also boosting his immunity and keeping him hydrated.
2. Saline Drops
Saline drops are basically a solution of distilled water and salt, and are easily available at most medical shops. Saline washes help to thin out the mucus in the nose and relieves the blockage in the nasal passage.
To give an infant a saline wash, use a bulb syringe for babies. Get a small quantity of saline into the syringe and squirt a few drops into a nostril. Wait a while and repeat in the other nostril.
In case the mucus hardens and gets crusty around the nose, use a clean cotton swab and warm water to gently wipe it away.
3. Breast Milk
Breast milk isn’t just for your baby’s tummy, it’s also good for relieving his blocked nose. You can just spray a few drops into each nostril and then let baby lie down on his tummy. By the time he lifts his head, the mucous will have thinned out and will drain on it’s own.
Dry air can aggravate congestion, which is where a humidifier can help by moistening the air in the room, which in turn helps to clear a stuffy nose. Place the humidifier at a distance from baby’s cot or just outside his room. Make sure to clean the humidifier regularly to avoid the growth of mold and fungus. Avoid using it on days that are already humid.
5. Steam Room
Steam is one of the best ways to relieve a blocked nose, but using a vaporizer is not an option for young babies. Instead, run a hot shower in the bathroom with the door closed and let the steam build up. Turn off the shower and sit inside the closed bathroom with your baby for a short while. He’ll automatically inhale the steam around him which will help thin out the mucous.
6. Bulb Nasal Aspirator
If baby’s nose is heavily blocked, you can try taking out the excess mucus through the nose. Squeeze the bulb aspirator to release the air. Gently insert the tip into baby’s nostril and slowly release the bulb, letting it suck out the mucus. Clean and repeat on the other nostril. Wash with soap and water and sterilize the aspirator after every use and replace the bulb every month.
7. ‘Snot Sucker’ Aspirator
The name may sound disgusting, and no one can blame you – sucking snot out of baby’s nose is not exactly an appealing thought! But this kind of aspirator may be more effective than the bulb aspirator for some babies. Parents needn’t worry about the snot reaching their mouths, as the aspirator contains a reservoir to collect the aspirated mucus. You can get one here.
8. Garlic and Ajwain
Garlic and ajwain (carom seeds) are healing spices and traditionally used to treat symptoms of cough and cold. Roast 2 large garlic cloves along with a tablespoon of ajwain for a minute or till the aroma begins to rise. Place this in a potli or cloth pouch and keep it near your baby, at a safe distance. Inhaling the fumes from the pouch will offer good relief for his blocked nose.
9. Oil Massage
A light massage done on the back and the chest of your baby can help relieve congestion in the chest and nose. Use mustard oil or coconut oil for best results.
10. Baby Carrier
Hold baby upright and let gravity do its job by letting the mucous drain out. A baby carrier will help keep your hands free and also offer your child the comfort of being close to you. This works best after the mucus has been thinned out by the methods described above.
11. Crib Wedge or Pillow
While you can carry your baby during the day, you need another solution for bedtime. Keep baby’s head elevated with a pillow or crib wedge to let the mucous drain out on its own. Make sure his neck has sufficient support.
Turmeric is the ultimate healing spice and works for blocked noses too. Burn a piece of dried turmeric in a candle and put it in a bowl at a safe distance from your baby, but near enough for him to get the fumes. The burnt piece will release a thin, thread like vapor, and inhaling this will help release any congestion in your baby.
13. Warm Juice
Taking enough fluids keeps baby hydrated and helps in thinning out the mucous as well. While breast milk is the best source of hydration, you can also try some warm homemade apple juice or water. It’ll soothe any itchy throat and soften any mucus stuck there.
14. Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is not just good for your soul, but for your child’s blocked nose too! Chicken soup contains ingredients with anti inflammatory properties that fight infection as well as help in clearing up blocked nasal passages. Offer a clear chicken soup at a temperature that’s as warm as your child can tolerate.
15. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is good for babies over 10 months. Apply some eucalyptus essential oil on the sides of baby’s bedding or on the curtains in the room. Please remember to use organic essential oils without any synthetic additives.
(The following remedies are recommended for children over the age of 18 months)
16. Essential Oils Diffuser
A diffuser is an excellent way for children to get the benefits of healing essential oils without risking any harm from the concentrated oils. Use oils like cedarwood, ginger, eucalyptus, lemon or peppermint by diluting them before adding to the diffuser. Place the diffuser at a safe distance from your child.
17. Ginger Lemon Honey Tea
Ginger, lemon and honey are all well known for their healing properties and a warm tea made of these ingredients is the perfect remedy for a blocked nose and chest. Pour boiling water over chopped ginger pieces and let it steep for five minutes. Strain and add lemon juice and honey to taste. Drink while still warm.
18. Warm Compress
A warm compress helps to relieve nasal congestion, especially if it is accompanied by sinusitis. Soak a soft washcloth in warm water, squeeze out the excess water and place this on the face across the nose and cheeks. Repeat the process as soon as the cloth cools down. The heat from the compress will help unplug the stuck up mucus.
19. DIY Vapo Rub
Most commercial vapo rubs are unsuitable for children and contain loads of chemicals. You can make your own vapo rub at home using essential oils, like Mommypotamus has done. Please follow the age guidelines when using essential oils for children.
20. Steam Vaporizer
For older toddlers and kids, a steam vaporizer will help them get a concentrated inhalation of steam directly into their nostrils, which is more effective at thinning out the mucous. Using bowls of hot water is extremely dangerous so opt for a proper vaporizer. Place a towel over the child’s head to make it a more intense treatment.
While these home remedies for nasal congestion in babies and toddlers are suitable in most cases of blocked nose, do consider any previous history of allergies or other reactions. Follow the age recommendations carefully for each remedy and take your pediatrician’s advice in case of any doubt. If you notice any symptoms like high pitched wheezing, noisy or hard breathing using the stomach muscles, flared nostrils or a change in skin color, get your baby to the emergency right away.