Back to blog

The Best Sleeping Position For A Baby With A Stuffy Nose

Mom helping toddler breathe with nozebot

As a parent, it’s natural to worry when your little one is sick. And when they have a stuffy nose, you might be even more concerned. You want to make sure they’re comfortable and able to breathe well while sleeping. But what is the best sleeping position for a baby with a stuffy nose?

In this article, we’ll discuss the safest way to lay your baby down when their nose is clogged. We’ll also provide tips on how to alleviate congestion and make your baby more comfortable while they rest.

Table Of Contents

Best Sleeping Position For A Baby With A Stuffy Nose

best sleeping position for baby with stuffy nose

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the safest sleeping position for babies is on their back. This position reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related conditions.

But when your baby has a stuffy nose, you may be tempted to place them on their stomach or side to help them breathe more easily. It’s important to resist the urge and continue placing them on their back for sleep.

Let’s look more closely at why the back is best, even for a congested baby.

Why Back Is Still Best

Many studies have shown that sleeping on the back is safest for infants. Since the AAP originally made its recommendations in the early 1990s, the rate of SIDS has dropped significantly.

Here are some reasons why this position continues to be the safest.

Babies Breathe Through Their Nose

Newborns primarily breathe through their noses. This allows them to eat and breathe at the same time. When they’re on their back, their nasal passages are unobstructed, and they can get the oxygen they need.

When a baby is placed on their stomach or side, their nose can more easily get covered by bedding or pressed against the mattress. This can lead to breathing difficulties or even suffocation.

Prevents Rebreathing

When your baby is on their stomach, what happens to the air they exhale? There’s a potential for it to get trapped around their nose or mouth and be breathed in again. This is known as rebreathing. It can cause excessive carbon dioxide levels in the body, which can be dangerous.

To avoid rebreathing, place your baby on their back for sleep. In this position, the air they exhale naturally moves away from their face, and they take in fresh air with each breath.

Keeps Their Airway Open

Sleeping on their back can help keep a baby’s airway open. It lines everything up properly, so if they spit up, the liquid will more easily drain out of their mouth instead of entering the windpipe, reducing the risk of choking or aspiration.

Additionally, a baby’s tongue is naturally positioned to fall forward when they’re on their back, which helps keep the airway clear. Sleeping on their stomach or side can cause the tongue to fall back, blocking the airway and making breathing difficult.

Dangers Of Sleeping Inclined

In addition to being on their back, your baby needs to sleep on a flat surface. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has stated that anything more than a 10-degree incline is unsafe.

Your baby’s head is proportionally larger and heavier than their body, so when they’re inclined, there’s an increased risk of their head flopping forward and restricting the airway.

How To Keep Baby Breathing Comfortably On Their Back

best sleeping position for baby with stuffy nose

As we’ve mentioned, the best sleeping position for a baby with a stuffy nose is on their back, but their stuffy nose can make it difficult for them to breathe comfortably.

So, how do you ensure your little one can sleep soundly while following safe sleeping practices? By following these tips.

1) Use A Nasal Aspirator

Your baby can’t yet clear their nose by sneezing or blowing, so you’ll need to help them out. A nasal aspirator is a tool that uses suction to accomplish this task.

It’s simple to use and can provide immediate relief, especially when you use an electric aspirator like the NozeBot. A pediatric ENT developed this device, so it’s safe and gentle enough to use on your baby.

Unlike bulb syringes, which can be difficult to clean and harbor bacteria, the NozeBot is easy to disassemble and dishwasher-safe for quick and thorough cleaning. Plus, it has three levels of hospital-grade suction, allowing you to choose the right amount of sucking power.

2) Try Saline Drops

Saline nasal drops are a mix of salt and water that can help loose mucus in your baby’s nose and make it easier to suck out with an aspirator.

Here’s how to use these drops on your little one.

  • Read the directions on the drop bottle so you know the dosage for your particular brand. Typically, it’s 2-3 drops per nostril.
  • Position your baby on your lap in a slightly reclined position. Stabilize them by lying their head on your arm and holding them closely.
  • Carefully position the tip of the bottle at the edge of your baby’s nostril. Don’t shove it in too far or you could damage their soft nasal tissues.
  • Squeeze the bottle to release a drop of the saline mixture. Count out each drop to ensure you use the right amount.
  • Repeat for the other nostril. Wait for a few minutes so the drops can soften the snot, then use a nasal aspirator to remove it.

3) Run A Humidifier

Mom running a humidifier to help with newborn breathing

If the air in your home is too dry, it can make mucus thicker — and harder to remove. To prevent this, consider running a humidifier in the rooms where your baby spends the most time. This will add moisture to the air and help relieve congestion.

Look for a cool-mist humidifier to use around your child. Warm-mist models could pose a burn risk.

4) Ensure Hydration

As we mentioned earlier, your baby normally breathes through their nose while they’re nursing or taking a bottle. But when their nose is clogged, that becomes difficult. They may take a swallow or two and then pull away.

And if they’re not getting enough breastmilk or formula, they can wind up dehydrated. This can worsen their congestion and make it even harder for them to eat.

To prevent this cycle, try offering the breast or bottle after using the NozeBot. That way, they have clear nasal passages to start with and can feed more comfortably.

You may also need to feed them more often to make up for any missed or reduced feedings.

5) Keep Them Upright When Awake

Gravity helps get snot out of your baby’s nose, so keep them upright as much as possible when awake. Depending on their age, this could mean:

  • Holding them in a sling or baby carrier
  • Sitting them up in their swing or bouncer
  • Propping them up on pillows while they’re playing

You can also just sit and hold them up on your shoulder. The extra cuddles will be good for both of you during this uncomfortable time.

When To See A Doctor For Your Baby’s Stuffy Nose

Newborn at the doctors for stuffy nose

While the tips above can help keep your baby breathing easier, there are times when it’s best to seek medical attention.

Here are some red flags to watch out for. If you notice any of these, you contact a doctor as soon as possible:

  • Your baby isn’t yet three months old
  • A high fever
  • Snot that isn’t clear or light yellow
  • Signs of dehydration, such as fewer wet diapers or a soft spot that looks sunken
  • Won’t take any breastmilk or formula
  • Difficulty breathing

Any time your baby experiences a symptom that’s concerning to you, it’s best to speak with a medical professional. They can develop a treatment plan to get your little one feeling better again soon.

Back To Sleep, Even With A Stuffy Nose!

best sleeping position for baby with stuffy nose

The back is always the best sleeping position — even for a baby with a stuffy nose. The APA recognizes it as the only safe baby sleep position, so keep putting your little one on their back.

To make them comfortable in this position, run a humidifier in their room, keep them hydrated, use saline drops in their nose, and use a nasal aspirator (like the NozeBot) before bedtime.

This device’s suction quickly sucks mucus out of your baby’s tiny nose, allowing them to breathe more easily and get some much-needed rest.

Here’s to sweet dreams and clear noses!

If you enjoyed this article, you may also love:

A clear nose means better sleep.

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

Buy now

Sign up for our newsletter

Enter your email to receive special updates and offers from Dr. Noze Best.