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10 Ways to Solve Baby Congestion the Easy Way at Home

The absolute WORST part about baby congestion is the snot crystals that line the rim of her nostrils like a margarita glass.

I can’t stand them.  It’s like an itch I have to scratch.  I see a snot crust and my hand automatically begins searching around for a warm wet T-shirt to start scrubbing.

Since I don’t think I’m the only mom desperate for a baby congestion solution, here are ten solutions that will get that nose breathing again!  (And a breathing nose sleeps better… *wink*)

Solving Baby Congestion the Easy Way

The key in solving baby congestion is to…

  1. Make sure it isn’t just noisy breathing.

    Put a humidifier in the room or add a few squirts of saline solution to make sure he is actually congested, and isn’t just suffering from a dry nose.

  2. Ditch the bulb syringe.

    It’s WORTHLESS. Instead, try Nosefrida or something else that will actually suck all that yuckiness out. (He will be angry, but trust me, a few seconds of angry screams is worth a night of sleep!) The faster you get the gunk out, the faster he’ll heal.

  3. Break out the home remedies.

    There are all kinds of easy things you can do at home to help. From adding a humidifier to rubbing his tummy with all-natural eucalyptus cream, to bumping up his immune system with probiotics.

  4. Know when to call the doctor (or 911).

    If your baby starts to wheeze, struggle to breathe, or seems limp, head to the ER. Also, make sure he has had at least one wet diaper every 6 to 8 hours to avoid dehydration (the #1 hospitalizer of children under 3).

The Baby Congestion Faker:
Noisy Breathing

There is an imposter that likes to pose as baby congestion, though you should know about.  It’s called noisy breathing.  His cute little button nose has extremely tiny nasal passages that are very sensitive to dry air.

A dry nose can make congestion sounds because of the air rushing past the dried chunks of snot.  (Granted, that’s not my prettiest description, but it’s accurate.)

If your infant isn’t acting like he feels sick (fussy, not eating well), and there’s no snot dripping down his face like a faucet, you most likely have a dry nose problem, and not an infection. Give him a few squirts of a saline solution, put an adorable humidifier in his room, and he’ll be as right as rain in no time.

That said…

If he is acting sick and leaving a slime trail everywhere he goes…
it’s time to hit it on the head nose.

*10 poetry points*

My true feelings about the bulb syringe

The World’s Most Useless Baby Congestion
Tool in the History of Mankind

Your infant is incapable of blowing his nose.  This means all that nasty stuff stays in there unless you take it out.  And what do most people suggest you use to get that snot out?

Yep. The blub syringe.

But I, my friend, am not most people. 

I will end the tyranny of the bulb syringe once and for all. You see…*whispering* it’s evil. It looks like it should be your new best friend.  Promising buckets and buckets of removed snot.


The most you’ll get is a few pathetic blobs that were hanging by a chad anyway.

Why this great deception?

First of all, the thick rubber makes it hard to squeeze and create air suction. Secondly, unless you can stick it far enough up in your baby’s nose to create a complete seal, it’s not going to be able to draw the deep stuff out.  And that’s where the gold is. 

The deeper the snot you mine, the longer he will remain congestion free.  This means better eating and longer sleeping for everyone.

After coming to LOATHE the bulb syringe with my two oldest babies,  my husband and I took a chance at an odd looking tube-contraption and found the device we were dreaming of. Seriously, it hits jackpot every single time.  

It’s my #1 gift for baby showers, and I love it so much that I’m willing to endure the YUCK face that every pre-mother gives when opening it.  I can see them trying to be polite, thanking me for a gift they are SURE they will never use.

Until it’s 2am and they are so desperate they would try anything.  Usually I get a call about 8 hours after that, thanking me so much for the gift they had sworn off.  Yep, I’m a ninja gift giver for sure.

A Quick List of Baby Congestion Home Remedies

Besides my favorite nuclear nose-sucker, here are some other nasal baby congestion remedies I recommend.

  1. Offer breastmilk or formula more frequently throughout the day.  A well-hydrated infant will keep the snots from solidifying, making baby congestion worse.
  2. Put some vaseline on his upper lip to protect the skin from the constant wiping and use extra-soft T-shirts or boogie wipes to prevent irritating the skin.
  3. For all-natural mamas, try the homeopathic Sinus Soothe to help baby breathe better at night.  If he seems to be producing extra buckets of snot, add in some Mucus Clear.  The same company also makes a wonderful health supplement for babies over a year old called Kiddie Boost to avoid those nasty colds in the first place!
  4. Place a pillow between the crib springs and the mattress, so the mattress is slightly inclined.  (Slightly.  You don’t want her rolling down a hill.)  The incline helps the mucus to drain better down the throat and avoid sticking around (get it? STICKING? *eye roll*) inside the nasal cavities.
  5. Hylands makes a really good homeopathic nighttime mucus and cold remedy that generations of parents have found effective. Considering the crappy sleep everyone has been getting, it’s worth the try!
  6. Add a cute humidifier to your infant’s room.  Extra moisture is essential in keeping the snot from crystallizing and blocking up the nose.
  7. Wear your baby in a sling in an upright or angled position.  Not only will he be soothed by your close presence, the angle will help with drainage.
  8. Give your baby probiotics to strengthen his immune system.
  9. Give a little nasal massage to help with baby congestion.  This YouTube video demonstrates how to do this on an adult, but it can be easily adapted for an infant.
  10. Shallots! Reader Lucy had a great tip using eucalpytus oil and shallots.  See her tip here.

ESSENTIAL UPDATE!  A helpful reader *ahem Jason* shared this link – which reiterates that Vicks Vapo-Rub should not be used in children under the age of 2.  I would recommend using this all natural eucalyptus tummy rub instead.

What You Need to Watch For

When it comes to your congested baby, there are two major things you should be watching for.

Signs of Troubled Breathing

Firstly,  you want to watch for signs of troubled breathing.  Place your ear on your baby’s bare chest.  If you hear any rasping sound while he breathes, that’s wheezing. It means the cold has settled into your infant’s lungs and antibiotics may be required to get them clear again.  Call your doctor, even if it’s after hours.  He may tell you to schedule an appointment for the next day, OR he may tell you to take him to the Emergency Room – but let him make that decision.

Signs of Dehydration

Secondly, you want to watch for signs of dehydration.  Dehydration is the #1 reasons most babies are admitted to the hospital because congested baby isn’t going to eat well, which increases his chances of becoming dehydrated.

You will need to increase the number of bottles or nursing sessions you have, perhaps every 30-40 minutes if necessary to compensate for this. If your baby hasn’t had a wet diaper in 6-8 hours, call your doctor.  She may encourage you to give him a few drops of Pedialyte, so I would have some on hand.

If you see any of these signs, your infant is in the danger-dehydration zone and needs immediate medical attention.

  • A sunken soft-spot on the top of his head (easily felt in first 6 months).
  • Has a dry mouth or cries without tears. (Remember, newborns don’t have tears yet!)
  • Cool skin with blotchy red patches
  • A faint pulse that seems too quick
  • Breathing rapidly, like he’s run a race
  • A feeble whine-cry, rather than a strong wail
  • What the doctor’s call “listlessness”.  In other words, he has no interest in playing or feeding, doesn’t respond to being held, and isn’t moving his arms or legs much.
  • Eyes that appear to be sunken into the skull.

Winning the Booger Battle

It is completely possible to win the Snot War.  You can keep that nose crust-free and build up his cold combat skills at the same time.

  1. Keep him well-hydrated.
  2. Keep his nose as sucked-free as possible.  Let him breathe in warm medicinal air to open those inflamed nasal passages.
  3. Try one of the methods above to help alleviate the crusty nastiness.

These simple things will allow him to get the rest he needs to attack the cold that’s causing the baby congestion in the first place. So tell me friend, how do you fight the booger battle at your house? 

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73 thoughts on “10 Ways to Solve Baby Congestion the Easy Way at Home

  1. My dr suggested dabbing Eucalyptus oil on the front of bubs shirt so she can breathe easier all day. Melted down baby Vicks/euccy bear rub works too.

    1. Sofia, start with the suggestions here. If you sense that she’s struggling to breathe, take her to the Emergency Room. I always recommend a phone call to your doctor, as well. Remember, if it’s yellowish-greenish, she probably has an infection that your doctor will want to know about. Hang in there friend, it’s so hard to see our little ones sick! Give her extra cuddles and comfort with lots and lots of breastmilk or formula to keep her well-hydrated.

  2. We bought a BabyVac on Monday which works quite similarly to the Nose Frieda, but you attach it to your vacuum cleaner. It gets ALL the nasties out. Not sure if it’s available anywhere else other than in South Africa.

    1. Wow, Adeline! That sounds fascinating! I was able to find it here at Amazon. A great solution for parents who just can’t bring themselves to putting their mouth on the other end. Thanks so much for sharing it! xo

  3. I am a huge believer in the bulb if done right. I am a pediatric nurse and I teach people everyday on the proper way to use it. You don’t need to shove it so far up. The nose is a closed system. Place the bulb in one nostril and hold the opposite nostril closed for a second and suck. You get so much out of the nose. Hold your finger over the opposite nostril, suck and let go before the bulb is done. You get so much out.

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