How to Get Boogers out of a Newborn's Nose

Stuffy Noses: Helping Your Little One Breathe Clearly

Few things are worse than hearing your newborn struggle to breathe because of a stuffed-up nose. When he can’t breathe well, he can’t eat well, and a hungry, sick baby is no fun for mom or baby. Unfortunately, since he’s so tiny, you can’t give him medicine to relieve his discomfort. You can try a couple of other options, though, to get him breathing clearly again.

Stuffiness in Newborns

newborn's mouth close-up

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Most newborns breathe only through their nose until they’re at least 2 months old. So, when your little one’s primary means of breathing is hindered, more serious problems can develop, such as respiratory distress, problems sleeping and trouble feeding.

The main causes of stuffiness are the normal cold virus, viral upper respiratory tract infections, and possibly milk or soy allergies.

Saline Drops

Saline drops or mist from your local drugstore are a good first option to clear your baby’s nose. Hold your baby upright and spray the mist into each nostril; then lay her down with her head lower than her body to let the solution flow back into her nose. If you use drops, lay your baby on her back and put three to four drops into each nostril; then hold her head back for a minute.

You also can make your own saline solution. Use 8 ounces of warm distilled or filtered water and add a pinch of salt. Then, follow the same directions as you if they are store drops.

The saline drops loosen the mucus in your baby’s nose and may stimulate her to sneeze, which moves the mucus to the front of her nose, so you can get to the clogged-up mucus.

Nasal Aspirator

newborn's mouth close-up

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After the saline drops, use a nasal aspirator (also called a “plunge”) to try to suction out the mucus. Squeeze the bulb on top of the plunger, put the end into your little one’s nostril far enough to form a seal, and then slowly release the bulb. Repeat two to three times on each nostril.

Suck soap and water into the plunger and then squeeze it out a few times to clean the plunger after you use it; rinse with plain water.

For many years, the old, hospital-type nasal aspirator was the only plunger around, but today’s mom has a few other choices.

The NoseFrida features a larger, plastic tube that you place at the base of your little one’s nose, which is connected to a smaller, plastic tube that you can use to remove mucus using the power of your own suction. A filter between the larger and smaller tubes separates the mucus from your mouth, so the procedure is completely hygienic. After you finish, simply throw away the filter and wash the other parts.

Another option, the Graco Nasal Clear Aspirator, is battery-operated and plays 12 different distracting lullabies while you clear your baby's nose. Place the rubber tip on the aspirator just inside your little one’s nose at a 90-degree angle; push and hold the power button until your baby’s nose is cleared. All four parts of this aspirator are dishwasher-safe.

The OCCObaby Baby Nasal Aspirator, another battery-operated choice, comes with nose tips in three different sizes, which is helpful as your little one grows. It also comes with a manual attachment if you’re on the-go and want to clear your baby’s nose with a little less noise.

Use saline drops and an aspirator before feeding your little one since they can cause your baby to throw up. In addition, clearing his nose helps him eat more easily.

Other Tips

Run a cool mist humidifier in your little one’s room to add moisture and help clear her stuffiness. Alternatively, hold her in a steamy bathroom to help clear her nose. Run a hot shower, close the door to the bathroom, and sit in the bathroom with your little one for a few minutes.

Try to get your baby to nurse or take a bottle as often as possible, because the extra fluids help thin the mucus. Thinner mucus is easier for your little one to sneeze or cough loose.

If your baby has a sticky, crusty mess of snot around her nose, use a wet cotton swab to wipe the area.

In most cases, moms simply have to wait out a stuffy nose. As long as your baby is active and nursing or taking the bottle normally, she should be fine. However, keep an eye on her wet diapers. If you notice fewer wet diapers, yellow or strong-smelling urine, give your pediatrician a call. You don’t want your little one to get dehydrated.

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