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Common Mistakes Parents Make When Using a Nasal Aspirator

Common Mistakes Parents Make When Using a Nasal Aspirator


Guest post by Holly Sanford, RN

Respiratory season is quickly approaching with the return of school and cooler weather.  The season is characterized by increased pediatric viral and bacterial illnesses which affect breathing. As a result, nasal aspirators are utilized more frequently from September through March. This week’s article will provide you some reminders to help avoid some common mistakes when using a nasal aspirator in preparation for the upcoming weeks and months.

Common Mistakes Parents Make When Using a Nasal Aspirator

If you have already purchased your NozeBot and want to make sure that you are using this nasal aspirator correctly, you are not alone! Many parents make these common mistakes when using a nasal aspirator, so we want to make sure we set the record straight so that you are always using this device properly. 

baby using the NozeBot


Some nasal aspirators may cause nasal trauma from over-insertion. For example, the bulb syringe has a narrow tip by design. As a result, it can be challenging to assess how deep you are entering into the baby's nose. The nasal passages of babies and children are delicate and can easily be damaged.  We recommend using the NozeBot, which has a broad, shallow tip and can safely aspirate a little one’s nose without causing concern for over-insertion. Because of the design, the NozeBot creates a perfect seal in the nostril and allows mucus to be quickly and safely extracted.

Bloody Nose

Bloody noses can occur for a variety of reasons, but you should not use a nasal aspirator if your little one is having an active, bloody nose. The pressure from suctioning prevents the frail vessels from forming a clot to stop the bleeding. Suctioning will only make the nose bleed worse. Additionally, if you observe a small amount of blood in the mucous while suctioning, stop suctioning and give the nose 3 to 4 hours to recover before suctioning again. Notify your provider if your child frequently has blood in the nasal secretions.

Too Much Suctioning

While the nasal aspirator is helpful in removing secretions, it can be utilized too frequently. It is possible for repeated suctioning to cause inflammation in the nasal passage and make it more difficult for the child to breathe through the nose. Unfortunately, some common colds cause copious amounts of secretions. For smaller babies, suction the nose prior to feeding and before bedtime, usually every 3 to 4 hours. For toddlers, suction the nose upon waking, prior to meals and before bedtime if needed. Notify your provider if your child is not experiencing relief from suctioning.

Suctioning Without Saline

Saline can help effectively clear mucous. Because saline drops contain salt, they help break down the mucous like salt does to a slug. Add 2-3 drops of saline to each side of the nose. Allow a few seconds for the saline to begin to break down the mucous and then suction the nose.

Suctioning Without Cleaning Between Children

Never use a nasal aspirator on multiple children without first cleaning the device. Even if the children are siblings, it is important to sanitize the aspirator with hot, soapy water between uses. The nasal passage is a conduit for the spread of infection, and exposing children to the same aspirator can easily cause cross-contamination.

Suctioning With a Dirty Nasal Aspirator

Because bacteria grows in moist environments, the nasal aspirator can be a habitat for unwanted germs. As tedious as cleaning between every suction can be, keep your nasal aspirator clean by rinsing between each use. If you need to clean the NozeBot tubing, place it in warm, soapy water or on the top rack of your dishwasher to thoroughly clean the tubing.

In order to safely care for your child, it is important to avoid these common mistakes when using a nasal aspirator. Contact your provider if you are ever concerned about your child’s health, especially if symptoms are not improving.

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Holly Sanford is a mother and a pediatric nurse of 9 years with a lifelong passion for helping children and their families. In her free time, she loves cooking new recipes, traveling to unique places and staying active with her family. 

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