The Best & Safest Methods For Sucking Out Your Baby's Snot

Little babies seem to get nasal congestion all the time, and the constant sniffing can drive parents to distraction. Listening to your baby's difficult breathing can be so trying, because it isn't like your kid knows how to blow their nose yet. Thankfully, there are a variety of nasal respirators on the market to help clear your baby's sinus and knowing the best and safest methods for sucking your baby's snot out will help you both breathe easy. To learn more, Romper spoke with Tanya Altmann, MD, founder of Calabasas Pediatrics and author of the new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) book, Baby & Toddler Basics.

Nasal aspirators are typically safe to use on occasion, as Altmann explains. What's the best practice approach to snot sucking? "Place a drop of nasal saline or breast milk in each nostril. Then gently suction out the mucus with a nasal aspirator or bulb suction," says Altmann. This practice should help loosen the mucus, open up your baby's nose, and make breathing easier.

In many cases, your baby's congestion may sound worse than it really is. In these situations, the mucus may not require any action on your part at all. "Newborns and infants breathe mainly through their noses and because their nasal passages are so tiny, a small amount of mucus can make a very loud noise," says Altmann. As long as the baby is feeding and sleeping OK, then the noise may not indicate a serious problem. If anything, the snuffling likely bothers parents more than the baby.

If you want to use a nasal aspirator, then there are a few varieties available. Some are shaped like a simple bulb that you use to squeeze out the snot, some are an electric device, or you could learn how to use the popular Nosefrida Snotsucker, which requires the parent to place a tube near the baby's congested nose and then suck the snot out. With your mouth. (Don't worry, though, because the tube has a filter that keeps the gross stuff from actually getting in your mouth.) It's a personal choice, and all are made more effective by loosening the mucus first.

Whatever type of nasal aspirator you decide to use, avoid overdoing it with the snot sucking. "The inside lining of the nose is very thin and sensitive, so you don’t want to over suction as that can cause further swelling and sound like congestion," says Altmann. Then you and baby are stuck in a cycle of unnecessary suction, and no one wins that situation.

In addition, it's smart to know some potential symptoms of medical concern. For instance, if you're using the aspirator more than a few times a day, visit your pediatrician to make sure there isn't another issue going on that requires medical attention or treatment, as Altmann notes. "If your baby is continuously congested or you see any blood tinged mucus from the nose, then it’s best not to suction until you see your pediatrician for an exam," says Altmann.

Plus, the nasal respirators are just meant for dealing with congestion, so any signs of truly troubled breathing need to be evaluated by a doctor right away. "If your baby isn’t feeding well or is having fewer wet diapers a day, if the chest is sucking in and out above and below the ribs or your baby is breathing very fast or has a fever, call your pediatrician right away," says Altmann.

If all this thought of mucus kind of freaks you out, it's OK. Just take heart, because one day your baby will master the art of nose blowing. At that point, knowing the best way to suck snot from your child's nose will be a skill you no longer need.

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