Baby congested? As common as it is, baby congestion is still not something to sneeze at. It can cause your little one to have a hard time falling asleep, to wake up more often in the middle of the night, and to be more irritable in general. We parents want to do everything we possibly can to keep anything worse than sniffles at bay, and prevent it from leading into anything. Hopefully, the congestion will clear up quickly, and baby’s immune system will be even stronger than before. And, of course, plenty of cuddles and kisses and TLC can always do wonders in helping baby feel better!
Types of Congestion
There are two types of congestion, nasal congestion and chest congestion. Nasal congestion happens much more often. It's basically just a cold or stuffy nose. Nasal congestion can come along with sniffling, coughing, and noisy breathing. “Infant noses are so small to begin with, so even a little swelling or mucus can cause congestion,” says Dr. Roy Benaroch.
Chest congestion is a sign there is fluid in baby’s lungs or airways. Coughing, wheezing, and rapid breathing are all signs of chest congestion. Chest congestion is a symptom of a respiratory infection or problem. A doctor can diagnose chest congestion by listening to the baby's chest. If you think your baby has chest congestion, and he’s constantly drowsy, he has fever, swelling on his face, neck or eyes, or is having trouble breathing, be sure to take him to the pediatrician as soon as possible.
What increases the risks of your baby being congested?
If you live in a high-altitude or dry climate, your baby can be more susceptible to becoming congested. Cesarean delivery and premature birth are two other factors that increase the risk of congestion and even asthma.
Tips to help alleviate baby’s congestion
Congestion is annoying for anyone, but for babies all the more so. They’re so little, so any teeny little bit of congestion can be really annoying. Here are some tips to alleviate baby’s congestion, and help him feel just a bit better.
Make sure the air circulating in the room is the highest quality possible. Smoking should be avoided when you’re baby’s near, and scented candles shouldn’t be used.
A clean, tidy home is better for the family, and better for baby. Keep your rugs and carpets clean, and vacuum them often (at least once or twice a week) so that they don’t collect dust. Curtains and bedding can also collect dust and allergens. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends washing in water that is at least 130° F. And let’s not forget, clutter also collects dust. Keeping your home clean and well-maintained is important for baby’s breathing.
A humidifier will release water vapor, helping baby sleep easy, and can also provide relief from congestion, as well as other health benefits. Crane humidifiers are highly recommended. Another way to let baby inhale water vapor or steam would be to turn on the hot shower, and sit with baby on your lap on a chair in the bathroom while the warm mist from the shower fills the room. A hot shower can loosen chest congestion by breathing in steam, and help clean stuffy nasal passages with moisture. However don’t sit in the steam for more than a few minutes at a time, because it can get very hot and stuffy.
Saline drops work wonders for stuffiness. You can ask your baby’s doctor which brands he recommends. Daily use of saline drops will help with moisturization and alleviate congestion. It’s best to limit suctioning to max one or two times per day, to prevent irritation.
Baby has a cold? Being congested is no fun at all, and RSV is really no picnic either. When your baby has a stuffy nose or sniffles, these are some ideas you can put into practice to keep them a little more comfortable, prevent things from worsening and help them feel better faster.