Infant Nasal Congestion Treatment Parent’s Guide


Newborns can sometimes sound like they experience infant nasal congestion in their first few days of life. This happens because womb fluid was surrounding them pre-birth. This leftover fluid in their nasal passages can be troubling for infants, which is why they will try to get rid of it by sneezing. If an infant has some leftover fluid in its nasal passages it will sound snuffly and will probably snort while breathing.

Babies have stuffy nose when the tissues inside their noses produce mucus or swell. A baby with nasal congestion will have to breathe through the mouth. This will make feeding a lot harder for both the mother and a baby. Nasal congestion can sometimes cause breathing problems, but this happens in rare cases. Newborn congestion treatment is not needed in most of the cases since the nasal congestion usually goes away on its own in about a week.

About Nasal Congestion

Congestion is a condition that happens when extra fluids are accumulating in the airways and nose. This is a normal response of our bodies when there’s a presence of foreign invaders, such as air pollutants and viruses. Some of the common congestion symptoms are mild troubles when feeding, noisy breathing, and a blocked nose.

Babies usually have mild congestion and there’s no reason to worry if this happens. However, you may have to help your child to get rid of the congestions since babies have very tiny airways and their lungs are immature. Your main goal is to keep your child comfortable and focus on cleaning your baby’s blocked nose from mucus.

You may probably notice that your baby is breathing a bit faster than normal if it has a stuffy nose. Be aware of the fact that babies do breathe faster than adults on average. Adults take about 12-20 breaths per minute while babies take about 40. However, make sure to take your child to an emergency room if you notice that your child has struggles breathing or if it is taking more than 60 breaths per minute.

Chest Congestion

The most common chest congestion symptoms in babies are:

  • Grunting
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing

There are many different causes of chest congestion and they can either be harmless or very dangerous. Here are some possible causes:

  • Bronchiolitis
  • Asthma
  • Flu
  • Pneumonia
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Premature birth
  • Respiratory syncytial virus
  • Transient tachypnea

Nasal Congestion

Infant nasal congestion is a common condition that might be followed by these symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Sniffling
  • Thick nasal mucus
  • Trouble eating
  • Noisy breathing or snoring while asleep
  • Discolored nasal mucus

There are many different causes for the condition, but some of the most common ones are:

  • Dry air
  • Allergies
  • Poor air quality
  • Viruses, including colds
  • Deviated septum – problems with cartilage separating the nostrils


Newborn congestion treatment is straightforward and uncomplicated. You will probably be able to treat the condition at home, but visiting a doctor might be needed in some cases.


Some babies that experience infant nasal congestion will have problems feeding. The number of wet diapers your baby makes per day will tell you if your child is getting enough food. Newborns need to get the right number of calories and hydration every day. On average, you should be changing a wet diaper at least every 6 hours. If you notice that your child is not feeding well or if it looks ill you should immediately go to see a doctor since it may be dehydrated.


As you may already know, modern medicine still doesn’t have a cure for common viruses. You will have to go through it with loving care and home remedies if your child has a mild virus. Keep your baby at home and offer frequent feedings. Make sure your child gets a lot of sleep.


Almost all babies enjoy taking a warm bath. It is even better if you can calm your baby and keep it seated. The warm water is considered to be a great newborn congestion treatment and it is known that it distracts babies from their discomfort.

Steam and humidifiers

A great way to help your baby loosen mucus is to run a humidifier in a room where your baby sleeps. The safest way to go is to use a cool-mist machine, just because the machine itself doesn’t have any hot parts. If you, however, don’t happen to have a humidifier in your house you can always sit a steamy bathroom. Just take your child to the bathroom and run a hot shower. Calm your baby down and play with it for a couple of minutes in the steamy bathroom. Repeat the process a couple of times per day.

Saline drops

You should always consult with your doctor if you are thinking about using saline drops to treat infant nasal congestion. Your baby mucous will go away with just one to two drops of saline. If your child has thick mucus, make sure you are using a nasal syringe. Some experts recommend using saline drops right before you start to feed your baby.

Breast milk

It may sound strange, but a lot of people recommend using breast milk as a newborn congestion treatment. Some mothers report that breast milk is softening mucus as well as saline drops. All you have to do is to put a small amount of your milk into your baby’s nose. You should do this during feedings. Once you are done with feedings sit your child up and the mucus will most likely slide right out. However, do not try using this method is you notice that your child is uncomfortable with it and if it interferes with feedings.


Just provide your baby with a gentle massage. Rub the baby’s hairline, cheekbones, eyebrows, bridge of the nose, and bottom of the head gently. Babies consider mother’s touch to be very soothing and this can be helpful if your child is fussy and congested.

Air quality

You need to follow the number one rule of air quality – avoid smoking near your baby at all costs. Also, try using unscented candles and vacuum frequently to keep pet dander down. Also, make sure your home air filter is replaced on time by following the instruction manuals. Fresh air is extremely important for babies and can be very helpful with infant nasal congestion.

No medication and no vapor rub on your own

You should know that cold medications are usually not effective nor safe for babies. On the other hand, it is proven that vapor rubs can be harmful to kids less than 2 years of age. These vapor rubs usually contain camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol. You should always remember that extra mucus is just the natural body’s response to getting rid of virus symptoms. It is never a problem unless your child is having difficulties breathing or eating due to mucus.


Your doctor will, however, provide your child with proper medication treatment if the congestion is extreme. Newborn congestion treatment with medication usually requires antibiotics, extra oxygen, and other medical treatments. Diagnosing the issue is usually done via chest radiograph.

Congestion at Night


Babies that have nasal congestion may have a lot of problems during the night. The congestion will increase when the night falls which will further increase the symptoms and unwanted problems. Babies tend to wake up more often if they have congestion. Also, coughing is another very common symptom along with irritableness. The natural position of sleeping also makes handling congestion even harder. Tiredness and the horizontal position are both allowing congestion to be even more annoying for a child.

The treatment for night congestion is not any different than daytime treatment. It is just more difficult since the mucus might be thicker and there might be more of it. It is very important to keep your baby calm and that you stay calm. Try cleaning your baby’s airways carefully so you don’t have to fully wake your child up. Congestion will make it hard for your baby to fall asleep again.

Make sure your child is not sleeping on a pillow or that the mattress is not on an incline. Suffocation and SIDS are life-threating conditions and the risks are increased if you are doing so. You will have to stay awake and take turns with your partner if you want to hold your baby upright while it is sleeping.

Potential Risks

On average, almost all babies will experience congestion at some point. However, certain groups of newborns are more likely to experience the conditions. Those babies are born in high-altitude or dry climates. Other risk factors might cause congestions and those are:

  • Premature birth
  • Exposing to irritants, like perfume, dust, or cigarette smoke
  • Down syndrome diagnosis
  • Babies born to mothers with sexually transmitted infections
  • Babies born to mothers with diabetes
  • Born by cesarean delivery

When to Contact a Doctor

Usually, your baby’s congestion will last for a short time and its immune system will be able to fight it off in no time. Also, the immune system becomes stronger after it dealt with a condition. However, you will have to take your child to a doctor if you notice that things are not getting better even after a few days.

You will have to take your child to an emergency room immediately after you notice that there are only a few wet diapers per day. This is a warning sign of undereating and dehydration. Also, having a fever and vomiting are symptoms that should prompt you to take your child to a doctor, especially if your baby is younger than 3 months.

Immediately take your child to the nearest emergency room or call 911 if you notice your baby has breathing troubles. These can be very dangerous so don’t take any risks and don’t hesitate to get help if you notice:

  • Ribs pulling in on each breath
  • Grunting or moaning at the end of each breath
  • Panicked look
  • Blue tint to the skin, especially around nails and lips
  • Breathing too fast or hard to be able to feed
  • Flaring nostrils

Baby Planet Overview

Nasal congestion is very common in infants. Almost all of them will experience it at some point of infancy. It is usually mild and you can use some home remedies just to reduce the symptoms a bit and calm your baby. However, if you notice severe symptoms mentioned above make sure you take your child to an emergency room.

Don’t give any medication to your child without consulting with your doctor previously. There is no need to give your child medicine if you notice only congestion symptoms. It will eventually go away and your child’s immune system will be as good as new, even better!

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Hello Mother's and Father's of the world. My name is Sarah Nielsen is this is my passion, as I am a mother of two beautiful babies and they are my world. Also I love blogging and sharing my experiences of what has worked for me when raising my kids. When I'm not juggling the madness at home, or working on my blog. You will find me product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest baby gear and helpful articles for my readers!