Your baby is all stuffed up with cold but isn't old enough yet to blow their own nose. Here's how you can help clear all that bunged-up snot from their nasal passages, so they can breathe more easily.


How to clear your baby's stuffy nose with saline drips and a nasal aspirator

First, thin the mucus with saline nose drops

Saline nose drops can be bought over the counter from your local pharmacy. They helpto thin the mucus (snot) in your baby's nose so that it will come out more easily.

Here's how to administer them:

  • Wrap your baby in a towel or blanket (so they can't wriggle too much) and lie them down on their back. Use one arm to keep them safely in place
  • With your free hand, use the dropper in the bottle to drop the recommended number of drops into each nostril
  • Clean the dropper after using

Don't worry if the nose drops make your baby sneeze – that's good! Have a towel or tissues standing by, though as mucus may well come out.

Then, use a bulb syringe (nasal aspirator) to unblock your baby's nose

You can find a simple bulb syringe at most chemists: do check with the pharmacist that it's suitable for use with a baby. Alternatively, there are lots of nasal aspirators designed specifically for use on babies that are available online.

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  • Squeeze the air out of the soft, round bulb of the syringe and hold it squeezed shut (otherwise it will refill with air)
  • While still squeezing the bulb very gently, insert the tip of the syringe into one of your baby's nostrils
  • Release the bulb. As you do this, it will refill with air and hopefully pull the snot from your baby's nose into the syringe
  • Squeeze any snot out onto a tissue and repeat on the other nostril
  • Clean the bulb syringe in warm soapy water, squeezing and releasing the bulb a few times to fill it with the soapy water. Then repeat with clean water before leaving to dry.

However stuffed up your baby is, don't suction more than 3 or 4 times a day – to avoid irritating your baby's nose.

Pic: Getty

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Dr Philippa Kaye works as a GP in both NHS and private practice. She attended Downing College, Cambridge, then took medical studies at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s medical schools in London, training in paediatrics, gynaecology, care of the elderly, acute medicine, psychiatry and general practice.