Common causes of nasal congestion in babies
There could be a few potential causes of your baby’s blocked nose, like:
The common cold may be the cause of your baby’s blocked nose. Babies don’t have strong immune systems yet and will often get multiple colds a year until they’ve gradually built a stronger immune system.
While you can't cure their colds overnight (if only!), you can treat the symptoms of a blocked nose to give them some relief, make them more comfortable, and help your little one sleep at night.
If your baby has a blocked nose, it may be because they have the flu. Other symptoms of the flu you can look out for in your baby include fever, being extra fussy with food, coughing, and being very tired.
Since your baby cannot communicate what’s wrong with them, it’s important as parent or caretaker to observe and notice their symptoms.
Babies can get blocked noses from reacting to different allergens like dust, pollen, pet dander and dairy.
In fact, babies and young children are more likely to react to different allergens compared to adults. While children often grow out of their allergies, some of them can tend to stick for life.
Sinusitis (or a sinus infection) occurs when the sinuses become inflamed and swollen, which can block them and cause mucus build-up.
How long will a blocked nose last?
If caused by a cold, a blocked nose should be cleared up and gone within a few days, but it can take up to two or three weeks; it all depends on your child’s immune system and the reason they’re congested.
How to treat a baby's blocked nose?
As babies can’t blow their own tiny noses, it’s up to mum and dad or any caregiver to help them get some relief. Here are a few tips you can use to help relieve their symptoms:
- Use a clean tissue to wipe some of the excess mucus away, put it in the bin straight away and wash your hands.
- You can use saline drops to help relieve congestion and loosen dried snot.
- If allergen related, speak to your GP to identify and remove substances which can cause an allergic reaction like pet hair, dust, smoke, and household chemicals like those in detergents.
- Keep your baby hydrated with breastmilk or formula, and if they’re older than 6 months, you can give them small amounts of water between feedings.
These tips should help with your baby’s blocked nose symptoms. If they have pain or fever too, you can give them children’s paracetamol if they’re older than 2 months or ibuprofen such as Nurofen for Children if they’re over 3 months and weigh more than 5kg.
When to seek help
A blocked nose will usually pass by itself, but speak to your GP, or call NHS 111 if your baby:
- Has to work hard in order to breathe
- Feel cold or hot when you touch them
- Cannot or don’t want to feed
- Don’t have as many dirty or wet nappies as they usually do
- Isn’t getting better
- Has a blocked nose all the time, even when they don’t seem ill otherwise
When should you call 999 or go to A&E?
- If your baby has pauses in their breathing or stops breathing
- If they have trouble breathing
- Have a convulsion or fit
- If their lips, tongue and skin are abnormal in colour, usually pale, blue or purple
- If they cannot wake up or wake up with a lot of difficulty
- If they are breathing very rapidly even when not crying or upset and when they’re resting
- If they look very unwell
As a parent, it's always good to trust your instincts when it comes to your child. If you sense there is an emergency, call 999.
All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health matters for further information or medical advice, please speak to your GP or a Pharmacist.