Infants get stuffy noses, just like adults do, when an infectious agent, such as a cold virus, invades the respiratory system. MedlinePlus points out that despite what many people think, congestion isn’t the result of thick mucus–it is actually because of swelling of the nasal passages. Over-the-counter medicines that calm the swollen blood vessels in the nose are not recommended for infants. The alternative is to use home remedies.
Saline Nose Drops
Saline, or saltwater, drops can help thin the mucus that is trapped inside the infant’s swollen nasal cavities. These drops can be purchased or made at home by mixing 1/4 tsp. salt into 1/2 cup lukewarm water, explains MedlinePlus. While the infant is resting on her back, place two to three drops of the saline solution into each nostril. After 30 to 60 seconds, place the infant on her stomach to encourage nasal drainage.
Gently insert an infant nasal bulb syringe, also called an aspirator, into the baby’s nostrils to remove mucus. This tool is also helpful after using saline nasal drops. To prevent germ growth, clean the aspirator with hot water and soap and allow it to dry in between each use.
Keep Baby Upright
Gravity is effective when a baby is suffering from mucus drainage and congestion. When a baby is lying on his back, the mucus has nowhere to go except further into his nasal passages. By keeping the infant upright and even at an incline while sleeping, the mucus has a better chance of exiting the sinuses. Raise the head of the baby’s crib by placing books under the legs at one end or by inserting a pillow underneath the crib mattress where baby will be sleeping.
Moisturize the Air
Dry air can make nasal congestion more uncomfortable, and MayoClinic.com suggests cold viruses thrive in such conditions. Run a cool-mist humidifier wherever baby is spending her time. Holding an infant in a steamy bathroom for 20 minutes can also offer temporary relief of congestion and mucus drainage. A few drops of menthol, eucalyptus or mint oils in a running shower release soothing vapors in the steamy bathroom. These oils are often used in chest rubs and other congestion-fighting products, such as tea.