When nasal congestion occurs in a baby, it can be a cause for alarm in the parents. Although rarely serious, a stuffy nose can cause problems with a baby’s ability to nurse, and according to Medlineplus.com, can cause life-threatening breathing problems. Congestion may affect the ears, interfere with hearing and speech development, disrupt sleep patterns, be a cause of snoring and may be associated with periods of sleep apnea during which the baby does not breathe during sleep. Over-the-counter medications are dangerous for babies and parents must rely on natural methods to relieve nasal congestion.
Babies breathe only through their noses, not their mouths. It is imperative that their nasal passages remain as open and free from mucous as possible. Saline nasal drops applied directly into the nose will help to soothe the nasal passages and loosen the thick mucous secretions that are associated with a sinus infection. Ove-the-counter infant saline solutions are available at most pharmacies and drug stores. The solution comes in a small container with a nozzle on top that can be used as either a spray or dropper. For babies and children under 2, the saline should be applied as drops. If you prefer to make your own saline solution at home, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to one cup of fresh water to a small pot. Heat the solution until the salt dissolves in the water. Allow to cool completely. You will need a small dropper to apply the solution into the nasal passages.
Lay the baby down on her back and tilt her head back slightly. The nasal passages do not go straight up, they go back. As long as the baby is lying on her back with her head slightly tilted back, the drops will drip back to the right spot. While holding the baby’s head with one hand, use your other hand to place 2 to 3 drops into each side of her nose. Take the syringe and squeeze the bulb together to force out any air. Gently insert the tip of the syringe into the base of the nose. Do not force the syringe into the nasal passage. Release the bulb. As the bulb fills back up with air, it will extract the mucous from inside the nasal passages. continue until passages are clear. Repeat on other side. Expel mucous from inside of bulb and rinse with warm soapy water when finished.
Set up a cool mist humidifier in the baby’s room. It will help retain the moisture in the air and keep the baby’s nasal passages moist by preventing the cilia in the nose from drying out. This allows for easier drainage of mucous from the sinus cavities. You can add humidifiers to any room in the house.