Parents need only two things to unstuff a stuffy nose—saline and suction.

“Stuffy noses in babies are very common in winter,” says Dana Ankney, MD, a Washington University clinical associate pediatrician at Forest Park Pediatrics. “They’re not dangerous and really don’t bother babies too much.”

Still, a stuffy nose can make it hard for a baby to eat or breastfeed. Babies breathe through their noses when they eat. Stuffy noses can also make it hard for babies to breathe easily or sleep well.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend using cold medicines or decongestants for any child younger than 4 years old,” Dr. Ankney says. “Use saline drops and sprays to loosen the mucus in a clogged nose. Then use a suction tool to draw out any moisture.”

Is It Allergies?

Many parents worry that a baby’s stuffy nose is a sign of allergies.

“There’s a chance babies can suffer from allergies,” Dr. Ankney says. “If a parent has a history of allergies, it may be an issue. But we usually wait until children are a little older before we recommend trying allergy medicines.”

The free St. Louis Children’s Hospital Kid Care app can answer any questions you have about stuffy noses. Visit to learn more.


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