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How to Treat Congestion in Newborns

By Stephanie Dube Dwilson ; Updated April 18, 2017
Don't use over-the-counter medications to clear up your infant's congestion.

Whether it is the result of a virus or bacteria, congestion can really make your infant uncomfortable. Because she breathes exclusively through her nose, congestion interferes with your infant's ability to breathe, eat and sleep. Congestion is a common ailment in infants and young children, so learn how to keep your baby comfortable when it develops. Home treatment typically provides sufficient relief, but contact your pediatrician if you have any concerns.

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Give your infant plenty of fluids. If your child is exclusively breastfed, let him nurse as often as he wants. If he is formula-fed, talk to your pediatrician about giving water between meals.

Elevate the head of her crib. Don't add pillows to your child's bed; instead, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends slipping a book under the mattress, or under the legs of the crib, to elevate one end. Sleeping with her head elevated slightly will help ease congestion and make it easier for her to sleep.

Use a cool mist vaporizer to add moisture to the air. The added moisture makes breathing easier. If you don't have a cool mist vaporizer, you can run a warm shower for a few minutes, until the bathroom is steamy, then sit in the room holding your infant. If you use a cool mist vaporizer, it is important to clean it on a regular basis.

Rinse your infant's nostrils out with a saline solution. You can purchase pre-mixed saline nose drops, or make your own, using 1/4 teaspoon of salt dissolved into 1/2 cup of warm water. Don't save this solution; make a fresh mix daily. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends placing your infant on his back, with a small towel rolled up and placed under his shoulders. Use a dropper to put 2 or 3 drops of saline solution in each nostril. After 30 seconds, roll your infant over so the saline can drain out. Use a tissue to wipe away the saline and mucus that drains away.

Suction your infant's nose using a nasal aspirator. Squeeze the aspirator and place the opening just inside your infant's nostril. Release the bulb, which will suction out any issue or residue in the nostril. Repeat on the other side. You may find this easier after using the saline solution.

Things You Will Need

  • Books, to elevate bed
  • Cool mist vaporizer
  • Saline solution or salt
  • Nasal aspirator

Warning

Congestion is a common ailment in infants and young children and not typically a cause for concern. Contact your pediatrician immediately if the congestion is combined with swelling around the eyes, cheeks or along the forehead; white or yellow spots in the throat; gray or green mucus; or congestion that lasts longer than two weeks.

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