January 19, 2010

Causes, Symptoms & Treatment for Nasal Congestion in Infants

Posted in Category : Child Health

Nasal congestion can be described as a stuffy nose, which makes it a bit difficult for you to breathe normally. Most of us have experienced nasal congestion, especially when we catch a cold. There is a common belief that the congestion in the nasal passages occurs due to the presence of thick mucus in the respiratory tract. However, in most instances, people suffer from this ailment when the tissues that are lining the nose get swollen. Nasal stuffiness can occur on one or both sides of the nose. The swelling generally occurs because of inflammation in the blood vessels. In adults and children, nasal congestion is nothing more than an annoyance. However, nasal congestion in infants could be a cause for concern and it is important that we take effective care.

Unlike adults and older kids, newborns can only breathe through their nose; therefore baby nasal congestion in the first few months can interfere with the newborn’s ability to feed. The infant may not be able to sleep properly either, because of a stuffy nose. In a few instances, baby nasal congestion could lead to serious breathing problems. If left unchecked, this problem could also interfere with proper hearing and speech development.


Cold is the most common cause of baby nasal congestion. Your little one may also experience nasal congestion because of other bacterial and viral infections like the flu. Some of the other possible causes of baby nasal congestion could include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Sinusitis or adenoiditis
  • Allergies

Some of these causes are more serious than the others in nature and should be treated by a doctor immediately.


The symptoms of nasal congestion may seem more severe in infants as they primarily breathe through the nose. Some of the typical symptoms of baby nasal congestion include:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Getting agitated soon or crying excessively
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Noise while breathing
  • Sleeping problems
  • Fever
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Snoring while sleeping or resting
  • Snorting

There symptoms usually get better when you keep your child upright. It could take anywhere between three and seven days for these symptoms to disappear. Seek emergency medical attention in case:

  • The baby’s breath is labored with congestion
  • The symptoms persist for more than a week
  • Fever is present along with the other symptoms
  • The infant is below 3 months of age


Most over the counter and prescription medications are not suitable for newborn kids. Therefore, parents are advised to home remedies to help alleviate the symptoms of baby nasal congestion. Some of the most self-care steps for nasal congestion in infants include:

  • Fluids: Encourage your child to drink a lot of fluids every hour or so, to thin the mucus. Breast milk and formula are both good for newborn babies.
  • Elevation: Keep your child’s head raised, so that he can breathe more easily. You can either place a pillow below the head of the mattress, or put a few thick books under the legs of the crib.
  • Steaming: Steam inhalation can thin the mucus, making it easier for your baby to expel it from the body. Just before bedtime run a hot shower and keep the bathroom door closed. Sit with your baby in the steamy bathroom for at least 15 minutes or so.
  • Humidifiers: Place a vaporizer in your baby’s room to moisten the atmosphere, which will make it easier for him to breathe during the night. Make sure that you clean the vaporizer each day or the problem can get worse.

Saline drips and nasal aspirators are also useful in treating baby nasal congestion. However, it is best that you check with your doctor before using any home remedies.


  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003049.htm
  2. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/common-cold-in-babies/DS01106/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies