A congested baby makes sounds and noises similar to a cargo truck as she is continuously struggling to breathe through her mouth and nose. A stuffy nose can interfere with eating and sleeping of an infant, making her irritated and uncomfortable. Since over-the-counter decongestant medicines are not recommended by doctors for infants younger than 2 years of age, parents should use home decongestant remedies. This article will provide you with several ways on how to decongest a baby.

How to Decongest a Baby


Use Saline Drops

Saline drops help in thinning out the mucus clogging the nose of your baby so that it drains easily. Drops for toddlers and infants with a small nose nozzle are available in the market. You can also pour the solution in a bulb syringe. Using saline drops will help decongest your baby when used in combination with other measures.



Your baby receives phenomenal nutrients along with antibodies that strengthen her immunity through breastfeeding. Moreover, it will keep her hydrated which also helps in relieving congestion. However, ensure that you find a comfortable position for nursing your baby that gives her maximum breath ability during breastfeeding.


Use Cool Mist Vaporizer

Cool mist breaks nasal congestion easily by adding moisture to the air. Steam also works well in case you are using a warm mist humidifier. You can also run a hot shower and make yourself comfortable in the bathroom while your baby takes in the steam.


Clear the Mucus

Your baby is too small to blow the mucus out into a tissue. You should aggressively remove the mucus from your baby’s nose as it keeps her airways clear and makes her breathe easier. You can use the bulb syringe, though there are other alternatives too including:

  • Boogie wipes

  • Wet cotton swab

  • Oogiebear nose cleaner

  • Nasal aspirator (such as snotsucker)


Pat the Back of Your Baby and Massage Her Nose

Another home remedy to answer your question of how to decongest a baby is to give your baby a few gentle pats on her back as this will help break some of the congestion. Massaging her nasal cavities gently from the outside may also loosen up the mucus and let it eventually drain.


Keep Your Baby Propped Up

Placing a slender pillow beneath the mattress of your baby will keep her slightly propped up and let her breathe easily while she is asleep. However, keeping a pillow in the crib of a baby less than 12 months old can be a suffocation hazard and should be avoided.


Give Her Probiotics

Probiotics are considered safe for majority of the babies and can be given after diluting in expressed breast milk. You should consult your baby’s pediatrician about giving her probiotics during periods of congestion as they boost the immune system. 


Use Onions

Though this sounds strange but it really works. Cut a slice of an onion and put it near the crib of your baby. Onion is an odoriferous vegetable and contains sulfur which helps in drawing out mucus from the nose of your baby.


Use an Air Humidifier

One of the best ways to get rid of nasal congestion and also to answer the question how to decongest a baby is to use water vapor or steam. Hot steam when applied directly to the face can result in serious burns; hence, should not be used. Instead, increase the humidity of the air, especially where the environment is dry. One effective method of doing this is using an electric humidifier. It helps in converting water into vapor and does not produce scalding steam at high pressure. It can be safely placed in one corner of the baby’s room.


Avoid Fans and Air Conditioners

Though it becomes difficult to avoid dry air in certain climates, still you can take measures to not dry out the air artificially. Avoid air conditioners and electric fans as they tend to dry out the air in a room rapidly. If you are using these devices to cool the environment in very hot climates, then make sure that you are simultaneously using an electric humidifier in the same room to humidify the air.


Apply Inhalants and Scented Rubs

A variety of scented products are available in the market that helps in decongesting your baby’s nose. Scented ointments or rubs containing camphor or menthol are used widely to clear a stuffy nose and are usually applied on the upper lip and chest. However, they should be used with caution in infants as they may increase the production of mucus and aggravate the inflammation. Inhalants with camphor or menthol are also available but they are not used on the skin. They are available as liquid drops or in solid form.


When to See a Doctor:

If any of the below mentioned symptoms are present in your baby then it is advised to see a doctor immediately:

  • Congestion is not relieved even after one week.

  • If your baby is less than 3 months old.

  • If the breathing of your baby is fast and she has also developed a cough and fever.

  • If the condition of the baby aggravates and she starts gasping or wheezing.

  • If your baby touches or pulls her ears frequently.


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