Top 6 Reasons For Baby Congestion And How To Help

Being congested is no fun for anybody. It can be frustrating not being able to breathe through your nose properly.

This is even more unbearable for a baby, who can’t fix the problem, doesn’t understand why it’s happening, and can’t say the words to express that.

Hopefully, understanding why your little one has mucus buildup can help you problem solve before further complications arise.

Having congestion in and of itself is virtually harmless. However, there are a vast amount of implications of a runny nose, among the side-effects one can bring about.

If the nasal passages aren’t cleared it can result in breathing difficulty, lack of sleep, a post-nasal drip, and possibly even fluid in the lungs.

Here are the top 6 reasons little Bob or Sue could have you reaching for the tissues every couple of minutes.

1. The Baby’s Anatomy

It doesn’t take much for a tiny nose to get congested. The nasal passages are so small that it could be difficult to tell the difference between air passing through a small opening and a truly congested baby.

Dr. Roy Benaroch, a pediatrician and author of “Solving Health and Behavioral Problems from Birth through Preschool”, reported on

Congestion in babies is caused either by swelling of the nasal passages, so air can’t get through, or by the nasal passages being filled up with mucus.”

Look for additional signs of congestion before worrying. Does your baby have visible mucus, or do you hear a bubbly or crackling noise when they breathe?

Kristina Duda, a registered nurse and the cold and flu expert at, reported:

Keeping babies noses clear with a bulb syringe can be a good idea. If your baby is eating okay, and doesn’t seem to be too bothered by their congestion, then there shouldn’t be too much to worry about.”

2.  Inability To Blow Their Nose

Blowing your nose into a tissue is a skill we take for granted. Baby’s are unable to grasp the useful act, and toddlers can mimic what they think is going on but rarely are able to effectively execute the dislodging of mucous.

Thankfully, there are other methods we can use to blow their nose for them. reports on expert advice:

To clear out baby noses safely and easily, both Benaroch and Duda suggest the NoseFrida

baby nostril aspirator because it works well and is safe to use for babies. Generally, it does the same thing as a bulb syringe by clearing out the mucus in their noses, but it’s easier to clean than typical syringes. Parents suck the mucus out of their babies’ noses using the nostril aspirator, but don’t get grossed out — there is a filter that blocks the mucus from reaching your mouth.”

3. Irritations Inside The Nose

When an unwanted particle or contaminant reaches a baby’s nose the body’s response to make sure the little enemies don’t breach the gate is to produce mucus.

So, to reduce the risk of congestion you have to try and rid your little one’s environment of harmful invaders, including poor air quality. There are inexpensive air purifier options available.

Dr. Benaroch reported:

Irritants like warm dry air, tobacco or cooking smoke or other environmental irritants in the air can cause baby congestion.”

4. A Cold Virus

Contracting a common cold virus is rarely dangerous, but there are steps you can take to make your baby more comfortable and to reduce the risk of it developing into a more severe illness.

Duda suggests elevating your baby’s head:

Putting them in their baby car seat, or even swing, so they are in an upright, elevated position can help drain some of that mucus.”

Saline drops are a safe option for young ones as well. Put a few store-bought, or homemade, saline drops in each nostril with the head tilted to dry up some of that mucus.

5. RSV

A stuffy nose is also a symptom of a more serious virus called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The signs may be subtle if you are not looking for them.

Duda tells the warning signs to be wary of:

If babies are more irritable than normal, they just are not feeding very well, they are lethargic, they don’t want to smile and play as usual or they are sleeping more than normal — these kinds of signs could signal a more serious illness such as RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus in babies.”

RSV develops when the common cold virus begins to attack the baby’s lungs. It is not a fun illness, but extremely common in childhood.

It is actually “one of the most common causes of respiratory illnesses in babies and is signaled by a lot of mucus that doesn’t go away”, according to

Duda lets us know when a visit to the pediatrician is advisable:

If babies are coughing a lot and there is no relief, then they should really be seen by a doctor. Something more serious to watch out for is nasal flaring. If babies’ nostrils are flaring in and out every time they breathe, and they have retraction around the ribs, this means that they are working too hard to breathe and need immediate medical attention. If they are grunting with every breath, this is also a serious concern, and parents should seek out immediate medical attention for their babies.”

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6. An Allergic Reaction

Just as an irritant invading a baby’s respiratory system causes a mucus response, so does an allergen.

Look for signs that your baby could be suffering from congestion due to an allergic reaction such as if they become symptomatic after a particular food, or after an afternoon stroll.

If we suspected an allergic reaction in ourselves we would take a Benadryl and call it a day, but it’s not as simple in babies.

Web MD warned, “Never use a cold or cough medicine in kids under age 4 unless a pediatrician suggests it.”

Try eliminating common allergens if you suspect an allergic reaction to see if the congestion subsides.

Common threats include dust, pollen, nuts, peanut butter, and gluten. If you are breastfeeding, try eliminating things in your own diet to see how it affects your little one.

Web Md reported:

What really causes allergic reactions is your immune system. It mistakes innocent things in your surroundings for a serious threat and attacks them. The symptoms you get are the result.”

There is the rundown of the most common causes of congestion. If you have attempted to correct all those on the list and have still found no relief, consult your pediatrician for more rare complications that could be causing the discomfort.

Remember every child is going to get some congestion at one point or another and there is often no need to worry.

The most important thing to remember is to give your child love and affection, letting them know they are safe and cared for.

Please let us know in the comments section if you have found a useful remedy for your baby’s congestion.

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