5 Tips To Help With Your Baby's Congestion
There are no miracle cures, but Doc Smitty has advice to help
Are you looking for the miracle cure for your baby’s congestion? Me too. Sorry, it just doesn’t exist. I tell families all the time that if I find it I will market it and retire.
In the meantime, here are some things you can do to help.
1. Suction, suction, suction. Your old friend the bulb suction (aka nasal aspirator or booger-sucker) is the best thing you have against congestion. Many times people tell me they don’t get anything out when they use it but that is usually because they aren’t doing it right. Depress the bulb, push the tip in the nose until you have a seal on the nostril and then release. Repeat for each side. There are other devices that you can use to accomplish the same goal. I’ve seen a mom place her mouth directly over the nose and suck (yeah, wow) and there’s also the battery operated device. The other one that I have a handful of families using is the Nose Frida. This device allows you to suck mucous out of baby’s nose with a tube that has a filter in it. Seems kinda weird to me but my families who use it swear by it.
My two main recommendations about suction are that you should stop whenever you are no longer getting anything and that you shouldn’t suction thousands of times a day. If you continue to suction without production, you are only causing swelling in the nasal passage and making the problem worse. If the child is happy and noisy, there is no reason to suction them. Reserve your suction times to before meals and at bedtime. If they are just noisy, it is bothering you more than it is bothering them.
2. Nasal saline drops-putting some nasal saline drops in the nose can be very helpful with that hard to reach congestion in the back of the nose and when the congestion seems to be thickening such that it cannot be extracted with suction. Just place a few drops to each side of the nose and then pull with suction to get a little more snot out.
3. Humidity-keeping the nose nice and moist actually helps to smooth the air flow as it goes from the nose to the trachea and into the lungs. This helps the babies breathing stay comfortable. I get asked all the time about whether it should be warm or cool mist and I frankly don’t care. If you have child have bad congestion/coughing, getting the bathroom with the shower going can be helpful as well.
4. Upright positioning-having the baby sleep in a little bit of an upright position can help that drainage to go on down in the tummy instead of sitting in the back of the throat. We don’t want our babies sleeping in the swing all the time but if you need to in order to help them breathe for the night, then I’m ok with the trade-off.
5. Vicks baby rub-The Vicks baby rub is able to be used as young as 3 mo old. I used to make fun of grandmothers in my office for this all the time until April 2010 when an independent study showed that it was useful. How the heck does rubbing some chemical on the baby’s feet or chest help with congestion you might ask?? I don’t know either but the study and my personal experience since then say that it does.
So, these are my helpful tips for congestion.
Any one else have anything that they have used out there? Any one used the Nose Frida?
Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Smith is an experienced keynote speaker for a variety of topics including pediatric/parenting topics, healthcare social media and physician leadership. If you are interested in having Dr. Smith present to your conference or meeting, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's checkupnewsroom.com. He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.