Back to blog

Newborn Stuffy Nose: How To Help Your Baby Breathe Easier

newborn stuffy nose

When your little one is still only a few weeks old, their immune system isn’t working at 100% yet. Because of that, it’s very common for them to develop a newborn stuffy nose.

Most of the time, it’s nothing to worry about and all you need to do is treat the symptoms and make them feel comfortable. But if their symptoms persist, you may want to talk to a doctor, pediatrician, or other healthcare professional.

In this article, we discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment for newborn stuffy nose so you can help your baby feel better fast.

Table Of Contents

Causes Of Newborn Stuffy Nose

newborn stuffy nose

Colds

Your little one may suffer from a newborn stuffy nose if they catch a cold or virus, like the flu or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

How can you tell the difference between a cold and something more serious? The flu and RSV typically cause a stuffy nose plus a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.

If your baby shows a combination of these symptoms, talk to your pediatrician about what to do next.

Allergies

Your newborn’s stuffy nose may also be caused by allergic reactions to:

  • Pollen
  • Animal dander
  • Mold
  • Ragweed
  • Hay fever

Allergies of this type are extremely common, but how can you tell the difference between an allergic reaction and the flu?

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the main symptoms of allergies (other than a stuffy nose) are:

  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Sneezing

If your little one is congested and has watery eyes, talk to your pediatrician about getting tested for common allergies.

Dry Air

It’s natural for your baby to have mucus in their nose, but dry air can cause that mucus to become thicker and build up to the point that it clogs their nasal passages.

Dry air may occur naturally because of where you live, but it can also occur when you run your heater or your air conditioner a lot.

But that doesn’t mean you should do away with climate control altogether! As you’ll see later on in this article, introducing moisture into the air can work wonders to counteract this cause of newborn stuffy nose.

Airborne Irritants

Airborne irritants are everywhere and include things like:

  • Smoke
  • Vapor
  • Dust
  • Air pollution
  • Strong odors

If you suspect that any of these may be the cause of your baby’s congestion, limit (or eliminate) their exposure to smoke, vacuum and dust their environment regularly, get rid of strong odors, and consider running an air purifier from time to time.

Symptoms Of Newborn Stuffy Nose

newborn stuffy nose

Runny Nose

When your little one’s nasal passages are clogged, their body may attempt to “loosen things up” by causing their nose to run.

A runny nose can be a sign of a lot of different issues, so if you notice that you have to break out the tissues more often than usual, be on the lookout for other symptoms on this list.

If your little one’s excess mucus is paired with things like fussiness, sneezing, and difficulty feeding, it could just be a stuffy nose. But if they also have a fever, visit your pediatrician as soon as possible.

Fussiness

When your newborn suffers from a stuffy nose, they’re going to feel off but, obviously, won’t know how to make the situation better. The only thing they can do is fuss.

This reaction is similar to why a baby will cry when they’re hungry or tired or have a dirty diaper — they’re uncomfortable and can’t do anything about it.

The best thing you can do in this case is remove the congestion with the Dr. Noze Best NozeBot, and then make your little one as comfortable as possible with one or more of the treatment options in this article.

Difficulty Feeding

In the first few weeks and months of their life, your little one will breathe primarily through their nose and won’t easily breathe through their mouth unless they have to. This can make feeding a newborn with a stuffy nose extremely difficult.

Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, your little one won’t be able to stay latched on to the nipple because they have to break away to breathe.

In this case, clearing their nasal passages so they can breathe again — even for just a few minutes — may give them the time they need to fill their belly.

Sneezing

Like a runny nose, sneezing may be your baby’s body attempting to clear the obstruction in their nasal passages. In most cases, this is completely normal. Sneezing may even occur when there isn’t congestion (and this is completely normal, too).

But, if the sneezing becomes excessive or is accompanied by a fever, loss of appetite, or unusual sleepiness, there may be something else going on and it would be good to visit a healthcare provider.

Treatment For Newborn Stuffy Nose

Mom using Nozebot on newborn stuffy nose

Suction

One of the best treatments for your newborn’s stuffy nose is to remove the obstruction with gentle suction. The NozeBot is a great tool to help with this and can be even more effective than a nasal bulb.

The process is simple:

  1. Place your index and middle fingers into the finger grip of the nosepiece
  2. Allow the tubing to drape over the back of your hand
  3. Turn on the device
  4. Choose your level of suction (we recommend always starting on low)
  5. Gently place the nozzle into your baby’s left nostril
  6. Switch the nozzle to your baby’s right nostril

Now your little one can breathe easy again!

For more tips and tricks, check out this article from the Dr. Noze Best blog: How to Introduce the NozeBot to Your Baby.

Saline Nasal Drops

Saline nasal drops (or sprays) draw moisture out of your newborn’s nasal tissue in order to reduce swelling. Drops and sprays can also help soften and dissolve the dried mucus causing the problem so that it will come out easier.

If you choose to give your baby saline nasal spray or drops, read the entire label first and be sure to follow the instructions.

As a word of caution, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends only using saline sprays and drops in your baby’s nose no more than four times a day.

Warm Bath

Another excellent treatment for a stuffy nose is a warm bath! Even just spending time in a humid bathroom (without actually getting in the tub) can help reduce the symptoms of nasal congestion.

If you aren’t actually putting your baby in the water but are just running it for the steam, you can add an essential oil to help clear their clogged nasal passages.

Good choices include:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea tree
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Clary sage
  • Lemon
  • Lavender

Whichever scent you choose, use only one or two drops (to a full bathtub of water) at a time so you don’t overwhelm your little one’s delicate system.

Cool Mist Humidifier

If your baby’s stuffy nose is a problem at night, you can try running a cool mist humidifier to raise the moisture slightly and help prevent their mucus from becoming so thick that it plugs their nose.

As with the steam mentioned above, you can add an essential oil to your cool mist humidifier if you want. The scent of these oils can help clear clogged nasal passages.

Again, just one or two drops of eucalyptus, tea tree, peppermint, rosemary, clary sage, lemon, or lavender will do.

Elevation

If a stuffy nose persists when it’s time for bed, you can try elevating their mattress slightly.

Doing so can help improve the flow of the mucus itself and make it easier for your little one’s body to clear the obstruction.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t take a lot of elevation to make this happen — a rolled-up towel or blanket under one end of the mattress is plenty.

Be sure to place your baby’s head on the high end of the mattress when it comes time to sleep.

When To Visit A Healthcare Professional

Doctor visit for baby

Most cases of newborn stuffy nose will clear up on their own, and the best thing you can do is keep removing the blockage so your little one can breathe comfortably.

But it’s a good idea to visit a pediatrician or other healthcare professional if you notice any of these symptoms in your baby:

  • Fever
  • Trouble breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Refusal to feed
  • Yellow or green mucus
  • Lethargy

Even if something just feels off or you’re concerned, don’t be afraid to reach out to a doctor for advice and guidance. It may be nothing, but it’s always OK to ask questions when it comes to your little one’s health.

Comfort Is Key

Parents snuggling with newborn

As we’ve mentioned, a newborn stuffy nose may be pretty common until your little one’s immune system reaches full strength.

When a stuffy nose does happen, use the Dr. Noze Best NozeBot to make your baby feel more comfortable, and keep an eye out for other issues such as fever, trouble breathing, wheezing, and refusal to feed.

Follow the tips above and you’ll be able to say goodbye to your newborn’s stuffy nose in no time!

Want more tips for keeping your baby healthy? You’ll love these articles:

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.