I recommend using a nasal saline spray to help clear a blocked nose in babies and children. Use first thing in the morning, ten minutes before every feed or meal, and before bed to make them more comfortable.
From my experience with my children and the feedback from my pharmacy customers, I can happily advise that the Calpol saline nasal spray, suitable for use from birth, is the gentlest nasal spray. This makes it ideal for use with children under three years of age and it can continue to be used for 12 weeks after opening for serial colds.
For slightly older children, I would recommend the Sterimar baby nasal spray as while it is a little stronger spray-wise, it is quite handy as the spray works at any angle. This means you can even use it while your child is lying down.
There are also saline nasal drops available from your local pharmacy, honestly, though, I always think they can be a little bit fiddly to use. Some medicated nasal sprays can be very effective for relieving the symptoms of blocked noses, in particular the Sudafed spray, however, these are only suitable for children over 6 years of age.
Most children start to learn how to blow their noses around the age of two years. For younger infants, a nasal aspirator is a very handy tool to suck stubborn mucus out of your child’s nostrils. I like the NUK nasal decongester as it is easy to clean afterwards.
There are a few clever ways to teach your child how to blow their nose, my favourite one is to make them laugh with their mouth closed. Another simple activity is the foggy mirror game. All you need is a mirror and a box of tissues to catch any snots that escape. Ask your child to pinch one nostril closed, then encourage them to blow air through the other nostril towards the mirror. See how much fog they can make each time as you encourage them to blow harder and with more force.
In my experience, you only get a couple of hours of clear nostrils with the use of a saline nasal spray, making it more suitable for the daytime. At night, when children and parents need their sleep to be at their best, I prefer to use a longer-acting solution.
If you can afford it, one investment you won’t regret buying is a humidifier. This can be left running in your child’s bedroom overnight to help keep their airways clear and moist. A humidifier helps to keep mucus thin and running, stopping it from accumulating in the chest. It can also help to reduce the risk of secondary infection and offers great symptom relief for coughs and colds.
I like the Medisana Humidifier as it contains an aroma compartment where you can put a few drops of Snuffle Babe vapour oil for babies or Olbas oil for infants over 3 months. The vapours released will help to keep their sinuses clear, reducing congestion and preventing a build-up of mucus in the chest.
Another natural option that is great for both preventing and easing persistent congestion and coughs is salt therapy. I recommend the Salin Plus air purifier, a small fan machine perfect for bedrooms. It works by pushing air through a filter, so the micro-crystalline salts create a fine constant spray for the recommended 8 hours of use daily, night-time is best.
Salt therapy works through its mucolytic, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a negatively charged ion, so it stimulates the respiratory airways helping mucous to flow through the membranes. The salt sits on the membranes and draws the mucous out by osmosis. This allows for clearer airways, improved removal of mucus from the chest and easier breathing. In my experience, many respiratory conditions benefit hugely from this natural salt therapy when used consistently, including asthma, bronchitis, allergies, sinusitis, laryngitis and even snoring.
Your local pharmacist is a free accessible healthcare professional in your community, who can help to guide you through various at-home treatments and advise you when it is time to visit your GP.
You can find more information and tips on how to identify and treat common illnesses and conditions that affect the family on the Wonderbaba.ie pharmacy advice website. Or tune into the Wonderbaba podcast for more expert advice and insights into how other families are facing their healthcare challenges head on. Find a WonderBaba Podcast on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you stream your podcasts.