How and with what to clean the nose of a newborn?

22 February 2022

Why is it important cleaning the nose of a newborn every time it is clogged? What makes tiny children often suffer from a runny nose? How to clean a newborn's nose in the least invasive and at the same time effective way? What to use for nasal cleansing toddler? How to clean the nose of a newborn baby using a pear or aspirator? If you are struggling with the problem of a stuffy nose or runny nose in your child, this text is just for you.

When an adult has a stuffy or runny nose, they instinctively know what to do to relieve themselves. In the case of the youngest children, the matter is not so obvious. During the first months of life, your baby only breathes through the nose. Therefore, it is very important to react quickly and properly clean the nose of the newborn. We have prepared detailed tips in response to the question of how to clean a newborn's nose.

When cleaning the nose of a newborn is necessary?

How do I know if my child has a stuffy or runny nose? Most of the mucus is clearly visible, whether as liquid or dried mucus around the nostrils or inside the nose. This may be accompanied by loud breathing, sniffling, and general irritation of the baby.

Dorota Lewandowska

A nurse in the Department of Neonatology and Neonatal Intensive Care, Institute of Mother and Child

The expert advises:

There can be many causes of a runny nose in a newborn. The most common ones are viral infection, allergies, dry air in the apartment or exposure to pollution. Young children are more likely to suffer from a runny nose due to anatomical differences - the airways in a child's nose are much narrower. In most cases, a runny nose should not be alarming for a parent, although of course you should clean your nose regularly. If home remedies fail and the runny nose persists, it is advisable to consult a doctor. When to seek help from a doctor? -When a child has a high temperature, is irritable, a runny nose interferes with sleep and eating, nasal discharge has an unpleasant smell. Remember it is always better to consult a doctor, even if it is just a banal runny nose.

Regardless of the cause of a runny nose, it is very important to clean your newborn's nose because of the aforementioned exclusive nasal breathing of the baby. Otherwise, Difficult breathing will also make feeding difficult, whether with a bottle or a breast. There are several ways to safely clean your newborn's nose and relieve any discomfort. However, before we move on to the tips on how to clean the nose of a newborn, we suggest what is best to use for this purpose.

What to use for cleaning the nose of a newborn baby?

Sometimes it is enough to clean the nose gauze or cotton ball moistened with clean water. Gently rubbing the area around your nose will help remove excess secretions. In the case of deeper secretions, consider using accessories such as pear or aspirator. You can also apply them before use saline solutionto thin and soften secretions lying in the nose. Never use adult thinning agents.

How to clean a newborn's nose step by step?

Before cleaning your newborn's nose we must remember to wash our hands with soap and waterto prevent your baby's own germs from entering your nose.

  • We arrange the newborn flat on your back or slightly tilted on your knees with your head tilted slightly back.
  • Ideally, the baby should be in relative comfort because cleaning the nose is not pleasant and it is easier to start with a calm toddler.
  • If the newborn has a thick or dry secretion, sprinkle one or two drops of saline into each nostril.. If the runny nose is fluid and loose, there is no need for it. You can buy moisturizing preparations at the pharmacy, e.g. sea salt.
  • We proceed to cleaning your toddler's nose with a pear or aspirator.

How to clean a newborn's nose pear?

If a pear is used, the air should be forced out of it and, without releasing the pressure, introduced into the child's nostril. Then, with a quick, short movement, release the pressure so that the resulting negative pressure sucks the secretion in the nose. It is a traditional method of cleaning the nose of a newborn, known and used for many years, although it is no less effective - as long as we remember about safety considerations.

The pear should not be used more than three or four times a day, as there is a risk of irritation of the delicate nasal mucosa. After each use, and if in doubt, also before use, the pear should be thoroughly washed with soap and water so as not to introduce microorganisms back to the baby's nose. We should also remember that some children do not accept this method of nasal cleansing.

How to clean a newborn's nose aspirator?

Cleaning a newborn's nose is very similar when using an aspirator. There are models available on the market that use the suction force of the parent and those connected to a domestic vacuum cleaner. Thanks to their appropriate design, it is not possible to hurt the child by sucking too much or sucking secretions into the parent's mouth.

In the case of the aspirator, as with the pear, you can help yourself with a physiological saline solution. The tip of the device should be placed next to the child's nose - only to close the hole in the nose tightly, there is no need to apply it deeply into the nose. Then, depending on the model used, induce a vacuum by sucking in the mouth or with a vacuum cleaner. The aspirator should also be carefully washed after each use.

Other ways to open a newborn's nose

Even if we know how to clean a newborn's nose and are skilled in doing this, it can be unpleasant and stressful for a toddler.

Besides physically removing mucus from the nose, there are other ways to make it easier for your baby to breathe and to open the nose. Belong to them:
  • Above all, remember to properly humidify the air in the apartment. It is worth considering running a humidifier in the room where the newborn is sleeping, even for the whole night / day.
  • Another option is unscrew the hot water in the bathtub or shower so that steam can form in the bathroom. In such a home steam bath, we spend several minutes with the child in our arms to moisturize the respiratory tract and thin the secretions.
  • It is also possible  bathe the baby in his tub - as we usually do. There is no need for frequent use of washing agents, for such a bath we only use clean, warm water.

You also need to take a look indoor air quality. The method of heating or the presence of pets can affect your baby's breathing problems. Make sure that the heating is safe and that dust and pet hair are vacuumed on a regular basis.

How to make it easier for a newborn to breathe?

You should take care of adequate hydration of the child. The thinning of secretions also comes from the inside, so it is often recommended to offer the baby a bottle or breast, especially immediately after cleaning the nose. In moments When the baby is awake, it is also a good idea to keep him in a more upright positionwhich makes breathing easier. For example, you can carry your baby in a sling or hold it on the shoulder, which allows the secretions to drain away better by the force of gravity. There is no obstacle to carrying a sleeping baby in this way, but do not tilt the crib in order to provide a higher sleeping position. This is discouraged and potentially dangerous due to the increased risk of cot death.

Most of the methods described above are simple to apply - you should try them to clean your newborn's nose as little as possible.

Neonatology - practical skills in the care of a newborn. Salamończyk M, Łozińska-Czerniak A. PZWL Warsaw 2014,
Caring for a newborn baby. Bałanda A. PZWL Warsaw 2009




Dorota Lewandowska

A nurse in the Department of Neonatology and Neonatal Intensive Care, Institute of Mother and Child

EU funding
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