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How to use a nasal aspirator & bulb syringe to clear a stuffy nose
Position your child with her chin slightly titled upward
Squeeze one or two drops of saline into each nostril
The saline alone may ease your child's congestion
If it doesn’t, use a nasal aspirator or bulb syringe to clear the mucus
If you're using a nasal aspirator, insert the tube into one nostril until a seal is formed
Suck out the snot
The filter will keep the snot from going into your mouth
Repeat on the other nostril
For a bulb syringe, squeeze the air out to create a vacuum
Insert the tip into one nostril until it forms a seal, then release the bulb to remove mucus
Remove the tip and squeeze the bulb to expel the mucus
Repeat the process on the other nostril
No more stuffy noses!
Video production by 8:45a
How can I clear my child's stuffy nose?
Clearing that stuffed-up nose will probably make it easier for your little one to breathe, eat, and sleep.
Most new parents get a rubber bulb syringe in their newborn kit from the hospital for this purpose, and it generally works pretty well. There are also a few new products on the market (do an online search for "nasal aspirator") that may be even more efficient at removing mucus from a stuffy little nose.
Start by squirting a little nasal saline into your child's nose to moisten and loosen up the mucus before you try to suction it out. You can buy saline at pharmacies or make it easily at home by dissolving 1/4 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water. Make a fresh batch each day and store it in a clean, covered glass jar. (If you get your water from a well, it's a good idea to boil the water first to sterilize it.)
Lay your child down with her chin tilted up slightly. Place one or two drops of saline in each nostril with an eyedropper (or squirt once or twice if you're using a saline spray) and try to keep your baby's head still for about ten seconds. Wipe the dropper clean after each use.
The saline itself may ease your child's congestion. But if her nose is still stuffy after a few minutes, you can break out the suction device.
How do I use a rubber bulb syringe?
Squeeze the air out of the bulb of the syringe to create a vacuum. Then gently insert the rubber tip into one nostril. Slowly release the bulb to suction out mucus. Remove the syringe and squeeze the bulb forcefully to expel the mucus into a tissue. Wipe the syringe and repeat the process for the other nostril.
If your baby is still congested after five to ten minutes, apply saline drops again and resuction. Don't suction your baby's nose more than two or three times a day, though, or you'll irritate its lining. And don't use the saline drops for more than four days in a row because over time, they can dry out the inside of the nose and make matters worse.
Bear in mind that this should be a gentle process. If you end up suctioning too aggressively, the nasal tissues can become inflamed (or even bleed), which can make the congestion worse. If your baby resists vigorously, let it go for a while and try again later.
How do I clean the syringe?
Clean it well with warm, soapy water after each use. Squeeze the bulb with the tip in the soapy water to clean the inside, too. (Shake the soapy water inside the bulb before squeezing it out.)
Rinse well by repeating the process several times with clear warm water. Suspend the syringe, tip side down, in a glass to dry.
How do I use the newer nasal aspirators?
The other nasal aspirators consist of a nozzle that you position at the opening of the nostril, a long piece of soft tubing in the middle, and a mouthpiece on the other end. You use your mouth to gently suction mucus out of your child's nose and into the nozzle. A filter in the tube blocks bacteria and keeps you from inhaling any germs. The device can be taken apart and washed with soap and warm water.
These products come with complete directions on how to use and care for them. They may cost a bit more (around $15), but some parents find them more effective, less invasive, and easier to use than a bulb syringe.