When the tissues present inside the nose swells up or when there is an excessive production of mucus inside the nose, there builds up a condition known as the stuffy nose. This is also known as the nasal congestion. Though stuffy nose may not always be a serious issue, it might be sometimes life threatening in case it occurs in babies, infants, or newborns and creates breathing problems or makes it difficult for feeding in the baby. So, this article will talk about some of the most common causes for stuffy nose in babies and also about the best ways to get rid of baby's stuffy nose.

Stuffy Nose In Babies

Stuffy Nose: An Overview!

Stuffy nose is actually a symptom experienced in a person whose membranes lining the nose get swollen because of the inflamed blood vessels. The swelling of the membrane lining in the nose is mainly caused by the increased flow of blood into the nose during the release of histamine body chemical while the defence mechanism of the body recognizes any unwanted foreign particle entering the nose via air. Swelling in stuffy nose leads to the excessive production of mucus by the nasal membranes.

Though stuffy nose or nasal congestion is not always chronic and mostly leaves away within three weeks of time, sometimes it might remain more than three weeks and lead to serious issues especially in baby's which may cause them to stop breastfeeding or difficulty breathing.

Stuffy Nose in Babies:

Extremely dry air inside the baby's nose can cause the dryness in the sensitive lining of the baby. There may be breakage and bleeding of the blood vessels inside a dry nose in the babies. The dryness inside the nose may not only result in bleeding from the nose in the babies but also make the baby catch cold. Usually the worst conditions of nasal dryness in babies occur during the cold winter days when the heating makes the air present inside the home dry.

Causes of Baby's Stuffy Nose:

Here below are some of the most common causes for stuffy nose in babies.

  1. Dry Air as a Cause for Baby's Stuffy Nose: Newborns or the babies have very small noses with narrow passage which are extremely sensitive to dry air. It is mostly during the winter days when they are exposed to enough of dry air which can dry out the baby's nasal secretion and lead to a noisy breathing. Though this might not be a stuffy nose symptom always, however in case there is a problem in breastfeeding or breathing, there requires a treatment immediately. Nasal drops or vaporizers can treat in case of stuffy nose symptoms caused due to dry air.
  2. Stuffy Nose in Babies Caused due to Irritants (like dust, perfumes or cigarette smokes): Irritants like chemical fumes, dust, smoke, cigarette smoke, etc can cause irritation in baby's nasal passage and cause stuffy nose or nasal congestion and nasal discharges from the nose. Sneezing and nasal discharge are common signs when the stuffy nose is caused due to irritants. Saline nasal drops would help in relieving the symptoms.
  3. Baby Stuffy Nose Caused due to Allergies: Babies also suffer from the stuffy nose or nasal congestion due to the allergens present in the air like the pollens which can get into the nose, sinus, throat, eyes etc. Allergens are also present in milk which might sometimes cause the stuffy nose in babies. Continuous sniffing, sneezing, rashes, itchy and watery eyes, coughing, diarrhoea, excessive gas etc are some common symptoms in the stuffy nose condition caused due to allergies. Such symptoms can be avoided by avoiding the surroundings that contains the allergens.
  4. Infections of Upper-Respiratory Tract, i.e. Cold and Flu as a Cause for Stuffy Nose in Babies: Stuffy nose symptoms are common in cold and flu conditions, i.e. during the upper respiratory tract infection. Because of the immature immune system in infancy, cold and flu symptoms are pretty common in infants or the little children. It is known that a baby in its first year of birth is probably going to suffer from 6 to 10 colds and that is pretty common. There are various reasons behind the child catching cold or flu, including the infections due to virus, bacteria etc, the environmental conditions etc. Usually symptoms starts reducing in two weeks, however may sometimes remain longer. It is essential to watch if the baby is having continuous nasal discharge, nasal congestion, cough and horse voice, fever etc. It is needed to make a doctors' visit and take the prescribed treatments.
  5. Baby's Stuffy Nose Caused due to Foreign Bodies: It is pretty common that babies have a habit of putting small objects like nuts, popcorn, pebbles, buttons etc in to their nose or mouth. In case any such foreign object enters the nose, there are chances of nasal congestion or stuffy nose symptoms in the little ones. Symptoms can be reduced by removing the inserted object from the nose. However, it is necessary to watch if the baby is having nasal bleeding, nasal discharge, noisy breathing etc which might be dangerous and requires immediate doctor's visit.
  6. Stuffy Nose in Babies Caused due to Enlarged Adenoids: The glandular tissues present near the entrance to the breathing air passage are tonsils and adenoids. Nasal congestion or stuffy nose symptoms are also seen in babies with enlarged adenoids. Usually babies within their 4 years of age grow their adenoids larger or sore and swollen, due to germs and infection. Some babies are also born with enlarged adenoids which they have developed while their stay in the mother's womb. Such enlarged adenoids can cause severe nasal congestion or stuffy nose symptoms and also at times block the nasal passage. Sleep disturbances, noisy breathing, breathing via mouth, snoring etc are symptoms to be watched in such cases. Mostly surgical treatments can clear the symptoms of stuffy nose in babies caused due to enlarged adenoids.

How to Get Rid Of Baby's Stuffy Nose?

It mostly happens that in case your baby has dry nose, he might also have stuffy nose. It is needed to first take all care and appropriate actions for soothing your baby's dry nose. Below we shall know about how to sooth your baby in case he or she is having dry nose or being irritated with the condition; and then will proceed on to the treatment methods or ways for getting rid of the baby's stuffy nose.

Ways to Soothe your Baby's Dry Nose:

Let us at first talk about ways to soothe your baby's dry nose.

  1. Moisten the Baby's Nose with Saline Water Drops to get rid of Baby's Stuffy Nose:

    • Lie down your baby on his/her back and place a small blanket under the shoulders.
    • Put 2-3 drops of the saline water drops in to his/her nose and press the tip of the nose gently to scope the saline water enter inside.
    • Wait for at least one minute before draining the nose of your baby.
  2. Run a Humidifier Near your Baby's Crib:

    Running a humidifier near your baby's crib can help in moistening and loosing the mucus inside your baby's nose. Steaming up the bathroom shower and getting your baby in the room before his sleep time will also help him have a relief from the dry nose condition.

Treatment to get rid of Baby's Stuffy Nose via Medications:

Medications are usually not required in case the symptoms of stuffy nose are extremely mild. The baby's natural defence mechanism will help in healing by its own. However in case the symptoms are serious or distressing your child it must require the effective treatment. Over the counter drugs can help in treating the symptoms in stuffy nose and not the real cause. However there are different medicines for the different symptoms of stuffy nose caused by different causes. It is essential to consult an expert child doctor before giving your baby medications.

Treatments via Nasal Aspirator to Clear Baby's Stuff Nose:

There might be some relief from the symptoms in stuffy nose with the help of nasal aspirator which might help in removing the thick mucus from the nose of your baby and help him/her breath in a better way. Here below are the steps explained on how to use the nasal aspirator.

  • Pinch the air from the nasal aspirator/nasal bulb before using.
  • Now gently insert the tip of the aspirator in to the baby's nostril gently, just near the opening. Make sure you are keeping safe and not inserting deep inside which might hurt or cause damage in the inner part of the nose in your baby. Let the air from nose get inside the aspirator along with the mucus.
  • Release the mucus in to a tissue.
  • Rinse the aspirator in a proper manner before and after using every time.

Though nasal aspirator helps in removing the thick mucus out from the nose, yet it must be noted that stuffy nose is caused due to swollen nasal membrane lining and inflamed blood vessels inside the nose. So, it must not be completely effective in treating stuffy nose or nasal congestion.

Home Remedies for Baby's Stuffy Nose:

Here below are some of the important home remedies which can help you treat your baby's stuffy nose conditions in case they are not extremely distressing or in case they are mild enough to be treated at an ease

  1. It must be noted that a properly hydrated body will help your baby clear the thick mucus in a better way. So, it is necessary to feed him/her breast milk or proper formula throughout the day in case of stuffy nose symptoms
  2. Chest rubs or the vapo rubs may make your kid feel relief in stuffy nose conditions. Natural chest rubs made from menthol oil, eucalyptus oil, etc may act as an effective home remedies for treating stuffy nose in babies.
  3. Saline nasal sprays or nasal drops may be effective at times. Stuffy nose symptoms caused due to irritants, may be treated to some extent in babies with the nasal drops or sprays available in the local chemist shop. However, it must be remembered, excessive use of saline nasal spray might cause more of congestion in the little ones.
  4. Keep the mattress of your baby slightly inclined so that it becomes easier to drain the mucus down the throat.
  5. Placing humidifier in your baby's room will help in getting slight relief in stuffy nose conditions in your baby.
  6. It is important to strengthen your baby's immune system during stuffy nose conditions. Giving your baby more of probiotics will help him/her strengthen the immune system.
  7. A slight nasal massage will help your kid get some relief from the stuffy nose conditions.


Thus, above mentioned were some of the treatment ways to help your baby get rid of stuffy nose symptoms. However, it must be remembered that chronic conditions in stuffy nose or nasal congestion requires an immediate doctor's visit and advance treatments for effective healing. Surgical treatments are required for the congestion caused due to enlarged adenoids in nose. Your consultation with the child doctor will help you know about the appropriate treatments for the condition in your baby's stuffy nose.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: June 28, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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