Mucus lines the inside of the nasal passages, preventing germs and infection from entering your baby's nose. But when your infant is sick, a build-up of mucus in her nasal passages might make breathing and sleeping uncomfortable. If your baby is younger than 3-months-old, call the doctor if you notice any signs of nasal congestion. For older babies, mucus buildup due to a cold or the flu will usually go away within a week.
A stuffy nose is caused by inflamed blood vessels in the nose, an accumulation of extra mucus in the sinuses due to an infection, or both symptoms combined. Usually, nasal congestion is caused by the common cold or the flu. Rarely, nasal congestion is caused by a more serious medical condition, like allergies, pneumonia, bronchitis or croup. When a virus or bacteria enter the body, extra mucus is created to flush out the disease, dissipating when the intruding germs are gone.
Natural home remedies help your infant breathe more comfortably without the use of medication. Running a humidifier in your child's room while she sleeps thins out the mucus in the nasal passages, making breathing easier.
Because your infant is unable to blow her nose by herself, use a rubber bulb syringe to carefully suck the mucus out of her nose. Press on the bulb of the syringe and place the tip 1/4 inch into the right nostril. Release the bulb to suck the mucus into the syringe, then remove the syringe. Press the bulb over the sink to remove the mucus, then continue with the other nostril. Use the syringe as needed to remove excess congestion.
Over-the-Counter and Prescription Care
Over-the-counter cough medicines are not approved for infants. If your baby has a fever, her pediatrician might prescribe a prescription fever reducer. If nasal congestion is caused by a bacterial infection like bronchitis or pneumonia, your baby's pediatrician might prescribe an antibiotic to eliminate her symptoms quickly.
If your child has a fever that accompanies her nasal congestion, her pediatrician may recommend a dose of over-the-counter infant acetaminophen to reduce the fever. Give your child the medicine exactly as described on the directions on the label, or as recommended by your baby's pediatrician.
Congested nasal passages might make it difficult for your infant to drink from a bottle, and when your infant is dehydrated, her illness will take even longer to heal. If your infant's fever is over 102 degrees Fahrenheit, or she has red eyes, green mucus or appears to have ear pain, call her pediatrician as soon as possible. If your infant coughs up bloody mucus, is unable to breathe, has blue lips, coughs uncontrollably or refuses to drink fluids, see her pediatrician immediately or go to the emergency room.