How to unclog a baby’s stuffy nose with a saltwater syringe

One mum's video - showing her using saltwater to clear her baby's stuffy nostrils - has gone viral. But is it safe to try at home?


Just last week, a video a mum shared on Facebook went viral. It shows her clearing her little one’s stuffy nose using a syringe filled with saltwater.


She can be seen holding her child, telling her to open her mouth and then puts the syringe in one nostril, and plunges – at which moment a torrent of gunk comes out of the other nostril.


Now, the vid’s pretty unpleasant, but we totally get why it’s been been viewed – wait for it – 24 million times.

A baby with a stuffy nose is such a common (and annoying) problem. It’s horrible for baby, occurs A LOT and often means they can’t sleep probably.

So, as a parent, any hacks and tricks to help you out on this one probably deserve a look.

What did come up after the clip was posted, however, was a bit of confusion over whether it works – and, more importantly, whether or not it’s safe. 

There were a lot of conflicting advice in the comments, such as:

“This is not a safe practice. It can lead to choking and aspiration which could result in a pneumonia. But what do I know. I’m only a children’s nurse.”

“As a respiratory therapist, this is the bomb! Although most kids may not be so co-operative and may require some sort of containment system.”

What the experts say

So we decided to go to GP Dr Philippa Kaye (also on Twitter), who told MFM this:

“Although it looks quite revolting this is actually a good way of cleaning snot out of your nasal passages, allowing them to breathe through their noses (and hopefully everyone getting a better night’s sleep!) 

“Please don’t use tap water, rather use saline which can be bought from a chemist.

“You need to hold their mouth open, and the saline should come out of the other nostril. Though some may go into their mouth, it doesn’t matter if some is swallowed. 

“The key thing is to be gentle. If they are wriggling, you risk damaging the lining of the nose with the syringe itself and if they are crying or distressed it could lead to choking. 

“So if they let you it is worth a try, but be gentle.”

There you have it! it might well be worth giving this a go if you can get your toddler to stay still, but make sure you use the right liquid (saline from a chemist) and beware that it might be tricky if you have a wriggler.

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