Blocked Nose And Colds In Babies – Treatments For A Blocked Nose

A young baby’s natural instinct is to breathe through their nose – even when it is blocked. It is therefore important to keep your baby’s nose clear as a blocked nose can disrupt sleeping and feeding.

What Symptoms Indicate That Your Baby May Have A Cold?

The signs of a cold are:

  • Congested and runny nose
  • Clear nasal discharge that may become thicker and even turn green
  • After a few days, the discharge becomes clear and runny again
  • You may notice a low grade fever in the first few days of a cold
  • Your baby may sneeze, cough, develop a hoarse voice or have red eyes

If your baby has an allergy, you may find your baby has:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Repeated sneezing attacks
  • Possible itchy skin
  • Clear mucus
  • No fever

What Causes Colds and Congestion In Babies?

  • A baby’s immune system is still developing, making him more vulnerable to the common cold. In fact, babies are likely to get between 4 and 10 colds in the first year.
  • Babies explore a lot, so they are more likely to pick up a cold virus by touching or mouthing contaminated toys or other items.
  • In the winter or autumn months, indoor heating may dry the nasal passages, making it easier for a cold virus to occur.
  • Close proximity to other infected adults or children can cause result in a cold. Especially while baby is little, ask any guests or children to wash hands before touching the baby.
  • Sinusitis can cause nasal congestion.
  • Allergies can cause a runny or blocked nose.

How Can A Cold And Nasal Congestion Affect My Baby?

Colds are uncomfortable, but are not a serious health risk. However, they do need some help because a baby will insist on breathing through the nose, even when it is blocked. A clear nose is essential for feeding as the baby either has the nipple or teat in his/her mouth. A stuffy nose can therefore make feeding time difficult, as the baby may become irritable and the mother frustrated and concerned, which in turn may affect the flow of breast milk.

Treatment For A Cold

There is no cure for the common cold. In addition, your baby’s immune system will need time to get stronger. However, you can help by making your baby feel more comfortable and by preventing the cold from getting worse. Plenty of rest and fluids are crucial, and your baby will need to be able to breathe properly to do either of these things. Stuffy noses may also linger for a few weeks even when the cold is over.

Bear in mind that a fever is a normal immune response – it needn’t be dealt with using medication unless your baby appears uncomfortable. Some babies have a fever and are happy or cope fine. But if your baby is uncomfortable or distressed, some pain relief may help him.

Back to the blocked nose – there are a few ways you can naturally help your baby, from home. Because babies can’t blow their nose, they rely on you to provide the appropriate help. Here are some suggestions to assist your little one:

  • Squirt breastmilk up your baby’s nose. Its much better than any other sprays, has no nasties (only goodies!) and works well.
  • Saline nose drops – look or ask for preservative free options
  • Vapourisers – run them during the day in your living room then at night where baby sleeps. Make sure the vapouriser mixture is suitable for your baby’s age.
  • Warm baths or showers can help unclog baby’s nose from the steam. Make sure the water remains at a safe temperature for your baby.
  • To help a baby’s immune system, you can get probiotic preparations designed for babies. Speak to your naturopath for dosage and more information.

When Should You Call A Doctor?

  • If your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 37.5C or higher
  • If your baby’s cold symptoms last for longer than 1 week
  • If your baby’s cough worsens and turns into wheezing or gasping
  • If your baby pulls or tugs at his/her ears frequently
  • If you have questions are concerned about your baby in any way

Members Comments On Treatments For Colds In Babies

Below are some suggestions from BellyBelly Forum Members as to what they find useful when their baby has a cold.

“At the first sign of a cold I always get out the vapouriser, it’s brilliant and leaves a nice fresh smell in the house. I also use saline nasal spray for when he’s really blocked up.”

“A nice steamy shower along with a squirt of Lemsip spray in the air, really helps to clear the nose. Saline nasal drops for other times.”

“Before Matilda turned 12 months old we used the vapouriser and saline spray as well. I also would increase her fluid intake by offering more drinks and yummy home made ice blocks.” *note from BellyBelly – try freezing breastmilk into little iceblocks for when they are teething or have colds to help with fluids.

Last Updated: February 21, 2015



  1. I have an 18mo toddler who started childcare few months ago. Since then he got sick constantly and keeps getting fever, running and blocked nose in the last 3 months. Have been to GP many times and got antibiotics few times already. I have also tried everything including the bath, keeping room warm, using the saline spray, apply vapour rub and using the vaporizer all night but it doesn’t seem to help with his blocked nose. Any other suggestions please?

    1. Use olive oil or baby oil put one drop in eatch side of nose then feed him or her by breastfeed or bottle .when ur baby drinks he breathes through his or her nose .then it will open in minutes u will sleep al day with ur baby .when I didn’t know this idea I used to stay wake in till morning. Believe me it will help in just minutes .so if ur baby has it again try it.

      1. It is actually dangerous to use baby oil (mineral oil) as it can be fatal when inhaled. It coats the lungs and they can literally suffocate, a mother’s story was in the media about it some years ago, and it’s why the bottles are now required to have safety caps. I wouldn’t even use it on baby’s skin, it’s made from petrochemical by-products, not ideal for new, sensitive skin. Breastmilk is much safer for your baby’s nose when congested. For the skin, try coconut oil. Baby oil / mineral oil isn’t necessary for any issues at all.

        1. My baby is 16th month old.she is attacked by cold for it helpful to use mustard oil regularly on her skin and nose?

        2. Thanks so much Kelly I have a Preemie at home and she has reflux which is causing her to be congested and I have been using the saline drops for over a weeks time now and that’s not really helping my little one, so now I’m going to try using steam from the shower

  2. I have an eleven month old baby and he has very high fever no appetite and a extremely blocked nose,now for the fever I have excellent meds that really helps but he won’t even drink his bottle because his nose is so blocked, I have a nebu but it still does not work please help me.

  3. my toddler is 3 weeks now and she is suffering at night she is having a dry blocked nose and I already use drops and child panado also a calpon sirub but nothing she still the same what can I use please hel

  4. Hi, my 13 months old baby girl is currently suffering from a cold and a blocked nose and I read that peeling and cutting a raw onion can help relieve blocked noses. I put it by her cot at night and it actually works! Room smells of onion lol but at least it helps by baby breathe and sleep better 🙂

  5. Hi I have 1month old child. His suffering with cold .due to cold his nose blocked his not sleeping well.plz tel me any precautions for him

  6. I have a 8 month old using snuffles saline spray, but can’t get her to sneeze? Any tips on getting a baby to sneeze

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