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Treating Your Baby’s Cold: Nasal Saline & Suction


Treating Your Baby's Cold: Nasal Saline & Suction

Kelli Shidler, M.D.​
Boys Town Pediatrics

Babies are obligate nasal breathers. They basically have to breathe through their nose when they eat and when they sleep.

So when they get a cold, they have lots of nasal congestion and they have a hard time eating and sleeping, which is what they do most of the day.

Our mainstay of treatment for the common cold is nasal saline and suction. The nasal saline is perfectly safe. It's actually the same composition of the cells and the fluids in our bodies. There is no real medicine in it. It's just basically salt water.

Saline really helps to break up that mucous to help the mucous drain out or drain back.

Let that saline sit in there for a good, maybe, five or 10 minutes if they let you. Now, if you are seeing a lot of mucous in the nose and there's stuff you feel like you can suction out, you get your bulb suction.

So, the way to use a bulb suction is you squeeze all the air out and you put it into one nostril, enough so you have a bit of seal or a vacuum, and then you release and pull it out. Hopefully, you've sucked out a bunch of mucous and then you take it with a tissue and aggressively squeeze out and clean out the bulb syringe.

We usually recommend suctioning the nose three or four times a day. If you do it too much or too aggressively, you can really irritate the lining of the nose, which can lead to ​more mucous, more congestion, or they have a little bleeding from the nose.

Now you can do saline a little more frequently if you would like to. Just the saline alone is very, very safe and non-addicting.

The common cold can inhibit your baby from eating and sleeping comfortably. Dr. Kelli Shidler, pediatrician with Boys Town Pediatrics, explains how to use nasal saline and suction to treat your baby's cold.