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How To Help Your Congested Baby Sleep At Night

How To Help Your Congested Baby Sleep At Night

Seeing your baby congested at night can be heart-wrenching. You know how uncomfortable you feel when you’re congested, and watching your little one struggle is even more challenging. Every sniffle may keep you up, worrying and wondering how you can help.

In those quiet, dark hours, your primary focus is soothing your baby and easing their discomfort so everyone can get back to sleep. You may not be able to make the mucus disappear entirely, but there are some steps you can take to help your congested baby sleep better.

In this article, we’ll explore gentle, practical strategies to help your little one breathe easy again.

Table Of Contents

Understanding Congestion In Babies

baby congested at night

Everyone experiences congestion at some point, and babies are no exception. When a baby has a cold or respiratory infection, excess mucus can build up in their nose and throat, causing congestion.

Since babies have narrower nasal passages than adults, even a small amount of mucus can cause major discomfort. Plus, your little one can’t yet blow their nose, making it hard to clear the excess mucus.

Signs Your Baby Is Congested

Your baby won’t be able to tell you they’re congested, so you’ll have to watch for the signs, including:

If you notice these symptoms, your baby may be congested and need some extra TLC.

What Causes Congestion?

Many things can cause congestion. Viruses and bacteria, such as the cold, flu, and respiratory conditions, are common culprits. So are environmental irritants like smoke, dust, or strong odors.

Other potential causes include:

  • Allergens such as pollen or pet dander
  • Dry air
  • Teething (since it causes inflammation in the nasal passages)

Why Congestion Gets Worse At Night

If your little one’s congestion seems to worsen at night, you’re not imagining it. Congestion often gets worse when we’re trying to sleep.

Here are a few reasons why:


Gravity doesn’t help clear the excess mucus when your baby is lying down. Without this force, snot can pool up in their nasal passages, making it harder for them to breathe.


Babies need to sleep on their backs for safety. Unfortunately, this isn’t the best position for congestion and can make it even harder for mucus to drain.

Poor Air Quality

The air in your home could also contribute to nighttime congestion. If the air is dry or your baby is exposed to allergens or other irritants in their room, their symptoms could worsen.

Extra Blood Flow

When your baby sleeps, their brain and body work overtime to clear out metabolic waste and keep things running smoothly. To do this, it pumps more blood to their organs and tissues, causing the blood vessels to expand.

Usually, this isn’t a problem. But when your baby’s congested, the extra blood flow can increase swelling in their nasal passages, making breathing even harder.

Baby Congested At Night: Immediate Relief Techniques

Mom helping baby congested at night

While there’s no magic wand you can wave to make your baby’s congestion disappear, you can try some simple steps to offer your little one relief.

Here are three proven strategies to start with.

Run A Humidifier

Congestion lines your baby’s throat and nose with thick mucus. Breathing moist air can help thin these secretions out.

Use a cool-mist humidifier to increase the moisture in your baby’s room. Aim to keep the humidity level between 30% and 50%. This will help ease congestion without allowing mold to grow.

Try A Nasal Aspirator

When an adult or older child is congested, they can blow their nose to help clear it out. But your baby doesn’t yet have the skills to do this. That’s where a nasal aspirator comes in.

Traditionally, you’d have to use a bulb syringe to suck the snot out of your baby’s nose, but there’s a better option these days! The NozeBot® Electric Nasal Aspirator has three power levels to relieve mild to severe congestion.

It’s made from hospital-quality materials, so you can feel good about using it on your little one. Plus, the nosepiece is top-rack dishwasher safe, making it a breeze to clean after use.

Nasal Saline Drops

Nasal Saline Drops for baby congested at night

Simple saline drops, which you can buy at your local drugstore, can also help thin out the mucus in your baby’s nose and throat.

To use them, lay your baby on their back and tilt their head slightly. Place two to three drops in each nostril while gently pressing down on the other nostril with your fingertip.

For best results, use a nasal aspirator after the drops have had a chance to sit for a few minutes. The loosened mucus should come out more easily.

While most saline drops are safe for babies, always read the label and check with your doctor to be sure you’re using the right product for your little one.

Baby Congested At Night: When To Call The Doctor

Baby Congested At Night: When To Call The Doctor

The methods listed above can help your baby find immediate relief so they can get some sleep, but home remedies aren’t always enough.

If your baby’s congestion persists or worsens, you’ll want to call their doctor. Here are three signs that it’s time to seek medical advice.

Noisy Breathing (Stridor)

While congested babies sound slightly different, their breathing should remain relatively quiet. If your baby starts to make a high-pitched, squeaky noise while breathing, it could be stridor.

This type of breathing sounds similar to a whistle or a seal barking. Once you hear it, it’s hard to miss.

Stridor happens when your baby’s airway narrows. It can be a sign of croup, a different respiratory infection, or a foreign object lodged in the throat.

Anytime you hear this strange sound, it’s best to call your doctor ASAP.


As we mentioned earlier, congestion makes it harder for your little one to drink breast milk or formula. Without consuming enough fluids, they can quickly become dehydrated.

Watch for these signs, and call the doctor right away if you suspect your baby needs more fluids:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken eyes
  • Crying without tears
  • Sunken soft spot
  • Hard to wake up (extremely tired)
  • Fewer wet diapers

Dehydration can become serious if left untreated, so don’t hesitate to get your baby checked if you’re concerned.


Baby with a fever

A slight increase in body temperature is normal with a cold, but if your baby’s fever gets too high or doesn’t go away after a few days, it could indicate they’re fighting a more severe infection.

Doctors consider it a high fever if your child’s temperature reaches 100.4°F in infants under three months or 102.2°F in older babies. Monitor their temperature closely and call their healthcare provider if the fever shoots above these numbers.

Long-Lasting Congestion

While nasal congestion is common with colds, it should improve within 7-10 days, especially if you use a humidifier, nasal aspirator, and saline drops to help your little one breathe better.

If your baby’s congestion continues for over a week, it could be a sign of something else, like allergies or an infection.

Other Red Flags

Always trust your instincts. If your baby’s cold symptoms seem to be getting worse or you notice any other concerning signs, it’s best to call the doctor.

Here are a few additional red flags to watch for:

  • Persistent cough
  • Difficulty breathing (like wheezing, fast breathing, sucking in at their ribcage)
  • Changes in skin color (pale or blue-tinged)
  • Poor appetite and refusing food
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

When you bring your child in, your doctor will do a thorough examination and possibly run some tests to determine the cause of their congestion and other symptoms.

Depending on the findings, they may prescribe medication or recommend further testing (such as allergen testing). They’ll also help you develop a customized treatment plan to help your little one recover.

Say Goodbye To Nighttime Congestion!

Say Goodbye To Nighttime Congestion!

When your baby is congested at night, it can interfere with their sleep and, in turn, yours. Let’s review the three things you can do when congestion strikes:

  • Run a humidifier in their room to add more moisture to the air
  • Use the NozeBot® Electric Nasal Aspirator to remove mucus from their nose
  • Put a few drops of saline nasal spray in each nostril to soften the mucus

Combined, these three actions can be a powerful arsenal against nighttime congestion. And when your baby can breathe better, you can say goodbye to congestion and hello to a good night's sleep. That’s music to any parent’s ears!

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

A clear nose means better sleep.

The Nozebot is a battery-powered suction device designed to clear nasal congestion in babies and children.

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