Infant Nasal Congestion, Baby, Toddler and Newborn Nasal Congestion

Nasal congestion is common in babies. It is commonly caused by common cold, flu, and allergies. Typically it due to viral infections usually last for 3 to 7 days but since children are prone to viral infections, babies may get up to 12 infections in a year. Read on to find out more about nasal congestion in infants and toddlers. In addition to the supportive treatment options available, we’ll also look at various home remedies that can help in management of nose congestion.

Infant Nasal Congestion and Baby Nasal Congestion

Infant Nasal Congestion – Baby, Toddler and Newborn Nasal Congestion - Infant Bulb Aspirator

Infant bulb aspirator

Infants (babies aged between 3 months and 1 year) are very prone to a congested nose. Viral infections such as common cold and flu are the most common causes of nasal congestion in infants.

According to, most babies suffer from up to seven bouts of common cold within the first year of their life. This is because they have not yet developed immunity to most common infections.  Infants are also often in the company of other older children who don’t always observe good hand-washing practices.

Allergies are also a common culprit for nose congestion in infants. This happens when children are exposed to environmental allergens in their environment such as pet dander and mould.

Infants can also get a congested nose due to dry air in their living environment. This causes irritation to the mucous membrane in the lining of the nasal passage leading to inflammation that culminates in congestion.

Enlarged adenoids and presence of foreign bodies in the nasal passages can also lead to baby nasal congestion as the body tries to flush out the foreign bodies by producing excess mucus.

Over-use of nasal drops and decongestants has also been shown to worsen nose congestion rather than to clear it. This usually happens if they are used for more than 3 days.

Infant Nasal Congestion at Night

Infant nasal congestion at night is a common concern for many parents. Typically the baby wakes up in the middle of the night with congested nose and when an attempt if made to feed him/her, the infant may show difficulty in feeding; having to momentarily pause. Inadequate feeding means that the infant will be up again after some time and these disruptions in feeding and sleeping habits forms a kind of a vicious cycle.

Infant nose congestion at night may be an indication of some triggering factors in your bedroom such as dry air, allergens etc.

You should consider trying to use a vaporizer to keep the air humid, using hypoallergenic pillows and other beddings.

Infant Nasal Congestion – Baby, Toddler and Newborn Nasal Congestion - Humidifier


Infant decongestant can also help but you shouldn’t use it for more than three days.  If the congestion still doesn’t clear, you should consider seeing your pediatrician for medical attention.

Infant Nasal Congestion Remedies

Various home remedies can help with baby nasal congestion. Here are 5 home remedies that you may want to consider to get rid of nose congestion in infants:

  • Use a humidifier: Consider investing in a humidifier to add moisture to the air around your house or bedroom
  • Saline nose drops: Applying saline nose drops can help to moisten the nasal passages of your infant and to clear out the dried secretions from inside the nasal lining. You can buy saline nose drops from your local drugstore or make your own by adding a ¼ teaspoon of table salt into a half-full cup of lukewarm water.

Once the solution is ready, lay the infant on his/her back with a towel slid underneath the shoulders before adding 2 to 3 drops of the saline solution into each of the nostrils (one at a time). Wait for between half and 1 minute.

  • Use an infant nasal bulb (aspirator) to suck out mucus from your infant’s nostrils. This will help relieve the a congested nose.
  • Rest your baby with the head raised up slightly: sleeping in a supine position can worsen off congestion. Consider elevating the head of your infant by placing a pillow beneath the mattress. Alternatively, you can place some propping objects e.g. a small block of wood beneath the legs of the bed.
  • Give your infant enough fluids: it is advisable to breastfeed or formula-feed the infant as often as possible as this can help in relieving nose congestion.

Infant Nasal Congestion Treatment

Infant Nasal Congestion – Baby, Toddler and Newborn Nasal Congestion - Saline Drops

Saline drops

Viral infections such as common cold and flu are the most common culprit for congested nose in infants. As a result, antibiotics don’t help. Although supportive treatment can be administered for nasal congestion in infants, there is really no cure for viruses and the body needs to fight them off.

Treatment usually involves easing the symptoms and although the above home remedies will in most cases do a great job at this.

You should however consider seeing a medical practitioner if the above home remedies for infant nasal congestion doesn’t seem to offer relief or even worsens it or if you think the congestion is caused by allergic reactions to allergens in your environment. The doctor will prescribe ideal antihistamines for your baby.

If nose congestion is a result of enlarged adenoids in your infant, surgery may be needed to remove the adenoids.

You should not use nasal sprays and over-the-counter cough and cold medications for your infant unless your doctor has specifically prescribed them. They can have serious side-effects and are generally not recommended for babies under the age of 2 years.

Infant Nasal Decongestant

Is there a safe infant nasal decongestant that you can buy from over-the-counter? The answer is a solid NO! You should not use nasal decongestants for infants (children aged between 3 and 12 months) unless advised to do so by your doctor.

Newborn Nasal Congestion

Infant Nasal Congestion – Baby, Toddler and Newborn Nasal Congestion -

Nasosal drops

Newborn babies aged below three months prefer to breathe through the nose. As a result newborn nasal congestion can make them uncomfortable and interfere with their feeding.

It can also lead to life threatening breathing distress or even cause complications inside the ears. Repeated hear infections which are often associated with chronic nasal congestion can lead to hearing problems and delayed speech development.

Unfortunately a congested nose is very common in babies. It is often characterized by stuffy and runny nose. Other common symptoms are sneezing, snoring, coughing, and noisy breathing.

The congestion however typically goes away within a week. Common cold and flu are the most common causes of newborn nasal congestion. Sinus infection can also lead to congested nose in babies.

Other than illnesses, other factors such as dry air, foreign bodies inside the nasal passages, allergy, and enlargement of adenoids can also cause newborn nose congestion and if these factors are not eliminated, the newborn baby may get a chronic congested nose.

Using humidifiers and saline drops can help to restore moisture inside the nasal passages and thus get rid of newborn nasal congestion. It is also advisable to encourage proper sanitation and hand washing in your entire family.

You should as well consider eliminating any potential allergen in your home as allergens are often the trigger for newborn congested nose.

You should see a doctor immediately if:

Infant Nasal Congestion – Baby, Toddler and Newborn Nasal Congestion - LIttle Remedies

LIttle Remedies

  • If congestion in your newborn baby is accompanied by fever. This may indicate an infection in upper respiratory tract.
  • If the symptoms are worsening
  • The nasal mucus appears yellowish-green
  • The baby is breathing very fast or gasping for breath
  • It is seriously affecting your newborn baby’s ability to feed
  • The baby seems to be pulling or touching the ear frequently or seems to be in pain

Newborn Nasal Congestion at Night

Newborn nose congestion at night could be an indication of nighttime exposure to any of the factors that we discussed above. For example, it may be due to presence of dry air in your bedroom.

Taking home remedy measures, such as using a humidifier, propping the head of the bed up can help but should the home remedies for nose congestion not seem to offer relief to your newborn baby, you should consider seeking the attention of a doctor or any other medical practitioner.

Toddler Nasal Congestion

Toddlers (children aged between 1 year and 4 years) are also prone to congested nose due to infections such as common cold and flu and due to exposure to allergic substances in their environments e.g. pollen grains, pet dander, and moulds.

Exposure to allergens is often exacerbated by the fact that this is the age when the toddler is walking around and touching all manner of things in their surrounding.

In addition to the home remedies we discussed above, you can get rid of toddler’s nasal congestion by giving them 1 teaspoon of honey twice or three times a day. If you however suspect allergies to be the cause of nose congestion you should talk to your pediatrician about treatment (usually antihistamines).

You should not use nasal decongestants and over-the-counter cough and cold medications for toddlers unless advised by your doctor

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