Baby nasal congestion or baby “stuffy nose” is typically caused by anything that inflames the nasal tissues – usually a cold, influenza, sinusitis, or allergies. Overall, baby congestion is just extremely annoying and nothing to worry about, but it can really affect sleep and eating habits. Special shoutout to our newborns with a stuffy nose – tough to breastfeed or suck down a bottle when your nose is completely plugged! Newborn or infant congestion can be more worrisome than it is with our older kiddos, so let’s figure out what to do with our infant’s stuffy nose!
As stated above, when we have a cold or something similar, our noses get inflamed. The tissues and blood vessels inside your nose become swollen with extra fluid and it creates that very “full” or “stuffy” feeling. With our little babes, their noses are so tiny! So a little inflammation for us is very different compared to their tiny baby congested nose. And does it seem like your baby is more congested at night? This isn’t just to spite you poor, hard working parents! Our bodies react differently to allergens at night and as much as we need gravity, it is not helpful when it comes to a baby’s stuffy nose at night. Mucus builds up and has nowhere to go.
You know what’s really common beginning at 6 months of age? The common cold. You know what else? Teething. Great, I know. Another mystery of wondering what ailment your little one is dealing with. So, do babies get stuffy noses while they’re teething? Usually not. Teething can sometimes be related to a runny nose due to inflammation of the mouth and gums, but if what you’re seeing in your infant is nasal congestion, it’s likely the common cold. The good news is that neither of these are cause for alarm or a reason to see the pediatrician, unless other symptoms arise that we’ll discuss shortly.
Our babies can have a stuffy nose with no other symptoms but often times, our baby’s stuffy nose can come with other symptoms.
There’s also a myth that green or yellow drainage means we’ve got a bacterial infection and need antibiotics. This CAN be true but not always. One trick: does it START green or yellow right outta the gate? This could be a sign of a bacterial infection. But if it starts clear and changes to thick and colorful, it’s likely a virus that your kiddo’s body is fighting off. High five, Body!
It’s never fun to watch when your little love is miserable. And then you add boogies and less sleep to the mix and it leaves you praying for healthier days. You’ll get there! Trust your instincts and if everything feels okay (albeit uncomfortable), let this run its course. And don’t leave the house without kleenexes, you’re gonna need ‘em!
Blake Wageman, RN, BSN has over 11 years of nursing under her belt, primarily focused on NICU babies and, just as importantly, their worried parents.