When an infant has a stuffy nose, it can interfere with sleeping and eating and make him uncomfortable and irritated. Because doctors do not recommend using over-the-counter decongestant medications for children younger than 2, parents should rely on infant decongestant remedies that can easily be done at home.
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Saline nasal drops or sprays can loosen up dried up mucus and rinse out any irritants that may be contributing to a stuffy nose. Parents can purchase saline nasal drops or sprays designed specifically for infants over-the-counter or make a fresh batch from scratch as needed. According to the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health website MedlinePlus, parents can make homemade saline by adding 1/4 tsp. of salt into 1/2 cup of lukewarm water. Apply by lying the infant on his back with a towel underneath the shoulders, and use an eyedropper to insert two or three drops to one nostril. Wait 30 seconds before gently rolling the baby to his stomach to help the mucus drain, catching any discharge with a tissue. Repeat the process with the other nostril.
Many doctors recommend using an infant nasal bulb or aspirator to remove the mucus. After applying the saline drops, simply squeeze the air out of the bulb and gently place into the nostril tip. Allow the air to re-enter the bulb, effectively sucking any loose mucus into the aspirator. Squeeze any mucus into the tissue, and be sure to clean the bulb with warm, soapy water after each use.
Newborns in particular have narrow nasal passages that dry out easily, particularly during dry winter months. For this reason, BabycareAdvice.com recommends placing a cold mist humidifier or vaporizer in the room to add water to their air and help moisten nasal passages. Alternatively, the Baby Center website recommends that sitting in a warm bath or steamy shower with an infant for 15 minutes can provide the same effect and provide temporary nasal congestion relief.
Making minor alternations to how a baby sleeps may alleviate nasal congestion at night and during naps. MedlinePlus recommends raising the head of the crib to allow any loose congestion to flow down and away from the nose. Parents can use the crib’s height adjustment hooks to accomplish this, or simply place books or boards under the legs at the head of the crib.