Relieving Congestion in Infants
Written By: Sue
March 27, 2012
A Holistic Approach
Many parents wanting to avoid using pharmaceuticals on their infant (or small child) often ask us, ‘What is a safe way to reduce nasal congestion?’ Believe it or not, the process is similar to relieving your own congestion. While you can’t use a neti pot in an infant’s nose simply because it’s too big, you can use a bulb syringe (also called a nasal aspirator) and the same saline solution you make for yourself.
First, create a saline solution by adding a 1/2 teaspoon of mineral salt to 10 oz. of warm water. Then lay your infant on her back with the head propped up on a pillow or towel. Keep the chin slightly upwards. Using a bulb syringe (or an eyedropper), place 2 – 4 drops of saline solution in each nostril. Wait 30-60 seconds, while keeping your child’s head as still as possible. The mucous may drain, but if you aren’t sure, use the bulb syringe to suction out any excess saline and mucous. Make sure to compress the bulb prior to inserting the tip into your infant’s nose, and then slowly release to provide a light suction. Don’t suction the nose more than two or three times a day, or you can irritate the lining. Also, avoid using the saline drops for more than four days in a row as it can dry out the inside of your infant’s nose.
Another way to drain mucous is to make sure your child is lying with her head elevated. Place a rolled up towel or pillow underneath the crib mattress at one end to encourage the slight elevation. Lay your infant on her back with the head on the elevated portion, as this allows gravity to drain congestion out of the nasal passages.
Other suggestions are to use a humidifier or vaporizer. Both moisten the air to help break up nasal congestion and loosen thick secretions. A humidifier heats the water before it is sprayed into the air, while a vaporizer uses cool water. The humidifying effects of both devices are equal but parents often choose a vaporizer simply because the risk of their child getting burnt by the hot steam is eliminated. In both devices, you can add a few drops of eucalyptus or pine essential oil to the water. These oils are antimicrobial and decongesting.
If you urgently need to decongest your infant, many parents run a hot shower and take their infants into the steam for 5-20 minutes. This will loosen the mucous and ultimately give the infant some relief.
Have other suggestions on how to relieve congestion for infants? We would love to hear them on our Facebook page.