We all know that when our kids catch a cold, it’s really nothing to worry about. But the symptoms of a common cold — especially a blocked nose — can be very uncomfortable for kids, especially if they are very young.
Your child’s blocked nose may cause difficulty in breathing as a result of the congestion. This results in sleepless nights for both parents and baby.
Of course, there’s also the loss of appetite combined with general grumpiness caused by your child feeling really uncomfortable because of the blocked nose.
What causes a child’s blocked nose?
A blocked nose is caused by inflamed blood vessels in the sinuses due to a cold, allergy or sinus infection. When inflammation occurs, mucous secretion increases to help fight infection, resulting in a blocked nose.
Most children are not able to blow their noses until around age 4, which is why relieving a younger child’s blocked nose is important.
These days, it’s very simple to walk into any pharmacy and grab one of the many over-the-counter remedies available for a blocked nose or cold in general.
But medical experts are now warning against using these products on children. They say these drugs do nothing to get rid of a blocked nose or cold and may even have nasty side effects.
Parents, you actually don’t have to rely on over-the-counter drugs to relieve your child’s blocked nose.
Instead, try one of these simple home remedies that we talk about on the next page.
1. Elevate his head during sleep
If your child is under 2 years of age and has a blocked nose, breathing while sleeping may pose some problems, especially if he doesn’t use a pillow and his head is not elevated.
While it’s not recommended that young children use pillows because of the risk of suffocation, you can still help yours breathe easily by raising the head side of his cot mattress from underneath using appropriate props. This will elevate your child’s head, making breathing easier.
My co-sleeping 2-year-old just uses me as a mattress when he has a blocked nose! He clambers on top of me and keeps his head on my chest so that it’s elevated. He gets to sleep and breathe more easily, but I don’t!
4. Saline solution
Any pharmacy will have saline solution for babies and children. Since toddlers or younger babies can’t blow their own noses to clear the mucus, saline solution will help thin it out. It’s perfectly safe to use as it’s just a sterile mixture of water and salt. How to use it:
- Put your child in a position where his head is lower than his feet and you can easily support his head. I often ask my husband or helper to carry my 2-year-old horizontally, with his head slightly dipped down. Expect resistance!
- Gently squeeze one drop of saline solution into each nostril.
- Wait a minute or two to allow the solution to drain through the nasal passages. Your child may sneeze or cough out the thinned mucus so better have plenty of tissues ready!
5. Use a nasal aspirator
Since many toddlers and younger babies cannot blow their own noses, you could use a nasal aspirator to help suck the mucus out. You could do this after using saline solution to thin the mucus, as explained earlier.
A nasal aspirator has a bulb section and a long, soft and narrow section that you insert in your child’s nostrils. How to use:
- Have your child sit up straight after using the saline solution if needed. For me, what works is to have someone sit down with my 2-year-old on his/her lap while holding him firmly around his waist.
- Tightly squeeze the bulb part of the aspirator.
- Keeping the aspirator squeezed, insert the tip into one nostril.
- Gradually release the pressure on the bulb, letting it draw out the mucus.
- Repeat with the other nostril.
- Separate the bulb from the tip and run under water to clean the mucus. I usually immerse it in boiling water with a drop of Dettol or gentle soap to sanitise the aspirator before its next use.
7. Keep your child hydrated
Adequate fluid intake not only ensures your child is well hydrated, but it also helps thin the mucus in the nose and clear congestion. Water, milk and juice are great, but the clear winner is chicken soup.
Chicken soup not only has anti-inflammatory effects, but it also stimulates the flow of mucus out of the nose. Add a bit of grated ginger into the soup for even better results.
Show your child to the doctor…
- If your child is less than three months old and develops a fever higher than 38°C.
- If cold symptoms — including the blocked nose — last for more than 10 days.
- If your child complains of pain in the nasal passages after two to four days of home treatment.
- If your baby or child has, or seems to have, an earache (babies with earache often rub their ears and seem irritable).
- If your child develops other symptoms such as pain or swelling in the face or in the chest, a headache or a very bad sore throat.
- If your child seems to be getting worse rather than better.
Share your home remedies for easing your child’s blocked nose with us by leaving a comment.
Something more serious
Look out for a change in colour of the mucus (from clear to a yellow/green colour), laboured breathing and/or a temperature. If the congestion persists and your baby appears ill, take him to your doctor or clinic sister for a check-up.
- baby illnesses
- colds and flu
- newborn care