While nasal congestion is just a nuisance for adults, it can cause serious complications for infants. It can interfere with eating, and some babies will experience breathing problems. The Food and Drug Administration does not recommend that children under 2 take any cold medications, but home remedies may ease congestion in infants to prevent these complications. However, parents should call their baby’s pediatrician with any concerns or if the congestion does not improve with the application of basic remedies.
Saline Nose Drops
Putting a saline solution into the baby’s nose relieves congestion. Medline Plus, a publication of the National Institutes of Health, recommends that parents buy bottles of saline nose drops or create their own solution at home using 1/4 tsp. of salt in 1/2 cup of water. Parents should lay the baby on his back and squeeze the drops inside of the nostrils, and then turn the baby on his stomach to help the mucus drain. They can use a tissue or swab to remove the mucus that comes out of his nose, or use a bulb syringe to suck out the excess mucus from the nostrils.
Congestion becomes worse when babies lay down flat, so parents should keep the baby as upright as possible. This may include keeping the baby in a swing, car seat or bouncy chair, Medline Plus suggests. Although adults often use pillows to prop their heads up as they sleep when they are congested, babies under the age of 1 should not have any blankets or pillows in the crib because this increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Instead, parents can place boards or books under the baby’s mattress to keep the baby’s head elevated slightly as they sleep.
Humidifiers work by adding moisture to the air. This lessens nasal congestion and clears the baby’s airways so she can breathe better. Dr. Jay L. Hoecker contributor to the Mayo Clinic website, recommends using a cool-mist humidifier for infants. This prevents the infants from accidental burns and saves the parents money since it does not require the expense of paying for the heat. However, warm-mist humidifiers work just as well as cold-mist humidifiers. In addition, parents who do not have a humidifier can take their baby into the bathroom with a steaming hot shower to get the same effect.
About this Author
Elizabeth M. Wolfenden has been a professional freelance writer since 2005 with articles published on a variety of niche blogs and websites. She specializes in the areas of psychology, mental health, education, pregnancy and reproductive health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in counseling from Oakland University.