Blocked nose in babies is a common occurrence. Thankfully there are many non-medicated products, which can be used to help with stuffy noses. Most ‘baby’ products which are available for the management of congestion can be used in newborn babies with few the exception of some vapour rubs. Popular product available this review can be broadly divided into:
- Saline nasal sprays and drops
- Nasal aspirator (manual and electric)
- Vapour rubs and vapour oils
- Electric plugs (Calpol Vapour Plug)
- Baby bubble bath products
Symptoms of a blocked nose in babies
Nasal congestion happens when excess mucus is present inside the nose. Most common causes of nasal congestion in babies are:
- A child being unwell, for example having a cold (viral infection)
- Presence of allergens or irritants in the air, for example, a cigarette smoke
Babies who have a stuffy nose will usually present with one of the following symptoms:
- A blocked nose
- A runny nose
- Redness/irritation around a child’s nose
Parent of babies who struggle to breath should see a GP urgently.
Congestion is usually a self-limiting condition. It should go on its own within a few days. Babies with prolonged symptoms of congestion or seasonal symptoms may be experiencing allergic rhinitis. Both conditions have very similar symptoms
Saline nasal sprays
All saline nasal sprays offer gentle and effective management of congestion in babies. Products discussed below can be used from birth. Nasal sprays for the management of blocked nose in babies usually contain the hypertonic saline solution, which has a decongestion effect.
A hypertonic solution contains higher concentration (amount) of salt than fluids found in the body. This creates water ‘withdrawing’ effect (osmotic effect) and helps to clear a stuffy nose, improving the airflow through the nose. Additionally, hypertonic solutions help to reduce local inflammation helping further to relief congestion (Bergmann et al, 2019).
1. Calpol Saline nasal spray for babies
Calpol is mostly known for its liquid preparation of paracetamol. Calpol Saline Nasal Spray contains 0.9% sodium chloride, a saline solution which can be used to manage block nose in newborn babies up to the age of 2.
Calpol saline nasal spray helps with congestion by washing away build up mucus associated with colds, allergies and sinusitis.
Key advantages of saline nasal spray by Calpol:
- Can be used from birth
- Suitable for long-term use
How to use Calpol saline nasal spray?
For babies up to the age of 2, Calpol nasal spray should be used once in each nostril. Use one spray into each nostril when required.
Babies under two years of age should be laid down. Calpol saline nasal spray should be inserted into the nostril with the head positioned to one side.
For more information, please refer to product information leaflet.
- Help wash away built up mucus, helping them breathe more freely
- Natural congestion relief
- Gentle, easy to use spray
2. Stérimar Breath Easy Baby
- Sterimar Baby Breathe Easy Nasal Spray is rich in trace elements. It gently clears and unblock little noses and helps to ensure comfortable breathing to facilitate sleep and feeding
- 100 PERCENT NATURAL sea water based isotonic solution, rich in trace elements and marine minerals known for their therapeutic properties. It's rich in healing sea minerals and has reduced salt content
- UK's NO.1 GP RECOMMENDED BRAND*. NATURAL and EFFECTIVE
Stérimar Breath Easy Baby is made of 100% purified seawater, suitable from the birth and up to 3 years of age.
How to use Stérimar for babies
Advantages of Stérimar Breath Easy:
- 100% natural ingredient (seawater)
- Can be used from birth
- Does not contain preservatives
3. Snufflebabe Nasal Spray
The third option for the management of blocked nose in babies comes from Snufflebabe. Snufflebabe offers a range of products, which can be used to help with symptoms of congestion.
- Safe, effective and gentle saline nasal spray
- Helps naturally clear blocked noses
The main advantages of Snufflebabe nasal spray:
- Can be used by newborn babies
4. Stérimar Baby Stop & Protect Cold
The main difference between Stérimar Baby Stop & Protect and Stérimar Breath Easy is the addiction of copper with claimed benefits of fighting cold symptoms’ quickly and effectively’. No evidence exists to support this claim.
5. Generic saline nasal sprays for blocked nose
Calpol and Stérimar are most recognised brands of nasal sprays, however, there are a number of other nasal sprays for the management of congestion in babies. Supermarkets and pharmacy chains may sell their own ‘brands’ of nasal sprays for children, very often priced lower to previously discussed products.
What is the best saline nasal spray for blocked nose in babies?
There is no definite answer to this question. All saline nasal spray for the management of congestion in babies come as drug-free preparations suitable from birth. A preservative-free nasal spray may be less irritating, and some babies may find them more acceptable.
Stérimar nasal spray for babies offers natural, drug-free, preservative-free treatment, additionally featuring micro-diffusion spray. There are some differences between the design of various nasal sprays for babies; however, a micro-diffusion spray present in Stérimar Breath Easy Baby produces fine saline mist (spray) providing for gentle treatment of babies noses.
Nasal drops for the management of blocked nose in babies
Saline nasal drops offer the same safe and gentle management of congestion in babies. Saline nasal drops can be used from birth. Saline nasal drops can be used as the first choice in the management of congestion in babies as well as an alternative option for babies which find nasal sprays less acceptable.
6. Calpol Saline nasal drops
- Help wash away built up mucus, helping them breathe more freely
- Natural congestion relief
- Fingertip control
Calpol Saline Nasal Drops can be used to unblock congested baby nose due to cold, hayfever or post-nasal surgery. This is a very similar product to Calpol saline nasal spray – drug-free, preservative-free with the exemption of how saline solution is delivered. Calpol saline nasal drops come as a bottle with a squeezable dropper. Saline nasal drops can be used a few times a day when required.
7. Snufflebabe nasal drops
Snufflebabe nasal drops are very similar to the nasal spray from the Snufflebabe range. Snufflebabe nasal drops can also be used to unblock and clear congested nose providing instant relief as other saline products for babies. Snufflebabe nasal drops come in the form of an easy-to-use squeezable bottle. Simply remove the cap and squeeze one or two drops into each nostril.
Nasal aspirators for stuffy noses in babies
Nasal inspirators work by removing mucus from baby’s nose physically. Parents have a choice of both manual and electric nasal aspirators. All nasal aspirators are suitable from birth. Nasal aspirators provide fast and efficient relief of blocked nose in babies. Some producers of nasal aspirators recommend using saline nasal sprays before mucus is removed from the baby’s nose to ease of the process and give better results.
8. Nosefrida Baby Nasal Aspirator (with Filters)
- Suitable From Birth
- Safe and Hygienic
- Clinically proven
Nosefrida Baby Aspirator is easy to use. The nozzle of the aspirator is placed just outside the baby’s nose, creating a seal with the nostril. Mucus is removed by sucking through the other end of the aspirator. The parent can control the level of suction. Don’t worry. Hygiene filter inside the aspirator stops the mucus passing from the nozzle along with the aspirator. For the best result, a saline nasal spray or drops can be used before physical removal of the mucus.
A moisture-absorbing filter should be removed from the aspirator, which then should be cleaned in warm, soapy water and allow to dry.
Amazon.co.uk stock two versions of Nosefrida Baby Nasal Aspirator:
Amazon does not stock replacement filter by Nosefrida, however compatible hygiene filters are available.
9. Snufflebabe nasal aspirator
- Instant relief from nasal congestion
- Approved and endorsed by health professionals
- Physically remove mucus from your baby's nose - special washable filter ensures you can never ‘suck back’ any gunk
The main advantage of Snufflebabe aspirator comes from the design. Parents can control the level of suction. Snufflebabe aspirator needs to be washed in warm soapy water or sterilised with a sterilising solution if it used between children. Snufflebabe nasal aspirator should not be heated (e.g. sterilisation in the microwave) as this will shrink the filter located inside the device.
10. Bulb syringe aspirators
- GENTLE TO YOUR CHILD'S NOSTRILS -- Soft and small silicone spout for a hurt free removal of your child's mucus build-up. Gently clears nasal congestion caused by cold, flu or allergies, clearing the airways instantly. A complete solution from bulky & complicated aspirators
- SO QUICK & EASY TO USE -- A vacuum is created with powerful suction by pressing the PVC pump. Release the pump slowly after placing the spout on the mucus for super quick removal. You can follow the boogers being removed from the see-thru spout for peace of mind!
There are many options for management of blocked noses in babies with the use of bulb syringe aspirators. Bulb syringe aspirators remove the mucus mechanically by squeezing the bulb and creating suction.
Bulb syringe aspirators may be more challenging to use as compared to two previously discussed aspirators. Additionally, one cannot control the suction, which again may limit the use of this type of aspirators.
Parents should consider nasal bulb aspirators which can come apart to allow cleaning in warm and soapy water.
Electric nasal aspirators for blocked nose in babies
Parents have an excellent choice of electric nasal aspirators for babies. It is beyond the scope of this post to review each electric nasal aspirator. Electric nasal aspirators can be used to managed congestion in newborn babies and toddlers.
Nasal aspirators are generally much more expensive than other products discussed in this post; however, all of them are reusable, which means they will last a long time. Nasal aspirators for blocked noses in babies can be used in conjunction with saline nasal sprays or drops. When used before the electric nasal aspirator, saline nasal sprays, or drops improve the removal of mucus. For detailed instruction, follow manufacturers instructions.
Electric nasal aspirators are battery operated and come with exchangeable nasal tips. Depending on the model chosen, electric nasal aspirators may offer different suction levels and separate nasal tips. Below is the comparison of the three popular electric nasal aspirators on Amazon.co.uk
11. Uman® 2 in 1 Electric Baby Nose Cleaner & Ear Wax Remover
Umans 2 in 1 electric baby nose cleaner and ear wax remover is Amazon’s Choice for electric nasal aspirator (highly rated and well-priced product). As the name suggests, this product is designed to help with blocked noses as well as to remove ear wax.
Uman nasal aspirator comes with a set of three silicone suckers:
- For newborn or infant
- For children over two years of age
- For wax removal from the ear
Other features include:
- Quiet operation (noise<45 dB)
- Parts can be easily taken apart and washed
- Easy to use: on/off button to operate. No suction control is available, something one would expect to see.
12. Baby Nasal Aspirator (Segminismart)
Segminismart Nasal Aspirator offers five adjustable suction levels for removing mucus effectively. It can be used in newborn babies. At 36dB, Segminismart Nasal Aspirator is very quiet when in use (36 dB). From the product description, it seems that Segminismart Nasal Aspirator is quieter than previously discussed Uman® 2 in 1 Electric Baby Nose Cleaner.
Other features of Segminismart Nasal Aspirator:
- USB Rechargeable
- Two interchangeable nozzle size
- Easy to clean
13. DynaBliss Nasal Aspirator for babies
Similarly to other nasal aspirators, DynaBliss Nasal Aspirator is designed to help with blocked noses of newborns and babies. DynaBliss offers three modes of suction. A claim is made in the products description, suggesting DynaBliss is superior to mother powdered aspirators (parent controls the suction), supported with results of clinical trials with ‘hundreds’ of babies. Similarly to all other nasal aspirations, DynaBliss Nasal Aspirator offers:
- safe and hygienic operation
- quiet operation
- easy to clean
Vapour products for blocked nose in babies
Two different types of vapour products can be used in children to help with congestion:
- Vapour rubs, which are in applied to the skin
- Vapour oils, which can be applied to bedsheets, wet towels and allowed to dry on the radiator, for example, creating the effect of aromatherapy.
I will also talk about Calpol Vapour Plug, which uses a similar principle of evaporation from a plug with the use of electricity.
Essential oils have been used for symptoms of colds for generations. Commonly available aromatic oils are effective in relieving symptoms of cold such as the blocked nose. For example, a menthol, which is frequently used in vapour rubs can improve airflow when congestion is present (Paul et al, 2010).
14. Vicks BabyRub Rub for congestion in babies
Vicks BabyRub is a topical preparation (applied to the skin) which is used to relief from symptoms of congestion and stuffy nose. Vicks BabyRub contains extracts of:
- aloe vera
- scents of rosemary and lavender
VicksBaby Rub can be used in babies from 6 months of age. An ointment is applied at night to chest and stomach.
15. Snufflebabe vapour rub for babies
By now you must have realised that Snufflebabe range offers a variety of products for the management of congestion in babies.
Snufflebabe vapour rub can be used in babies from 3 months of age. Snufflebabe vapour rub contains a combination of three different active ingredients:
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Thyme Oil
Snufflebabe vapour rub can also be applied to the chest or placed in a tissue in the clothing and out of baby’s reach.
16. Maty’s All Natural Baby Chest Rub
Maty’s All Natural Baby Chest Rub is one of the most popular vapour rubs on Amazon. I included this product in my recommendations as it does not contain menthol. Instead, Maty’s All Natural Baby Chest Rub is formulated with a combination of:
Vapour oils for blocked nose in babies
17. Olbas Oil for children
Olbas Oil for children is a gentle decongestant suitable for children from 3 months of age. Olbas oil for children is a combination of essential oils used for management of blocked nose in babies. Essential oils included in the formulation of Olbas for children:
- Cajuput Oil
- Clove Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Juniperberry Oil
- Methyl Salicylate
- Mint Oil
Olbas oil for children can be applied to a tissue and hold near child’s nose and allow to breathe in – recommended use during the day. At night Olbas oil for children can be applied to the tissue and placed in child’s room, away from the reach. For children over two years of age, Olbas oil for children can be applied to a warm towel or placed into hot water and placed out of reach.
There are different recommendations on how much oil to use (number of drops) for different age groups. Please refer to product information leaflet for specific advice.
There are many essential oil diffusers for aromatherapy, which can be used to diffuse essential oils, for example, VicTsing Essential Oil Diffuser.
18. Calpol vapour plug for blocked nose in babies
- Soothing 8 hour night time comfortClear & easy breathingLavender & chamomile refill padsSimple to use just plug it in!Easy-to-replace refill pads last up to 8-hoursNightlight is activated at night when your lights go out
- helping to clear and ease breathing
- Simple to use and easy to replace
Essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, menthol, camphor and eucalyptus are contained in a small refill pad, which is placed inside the Calpol plug. The aroma of essential oils is produced when the Calpol plug is placed in a socket.
Essential oils used in Calpol plug not only help with baby’s blocked nose but also create a feeling of relaxation, thanks to the addition of lavender in the refill pad.
19. Snufflebabe Vapour Bath Bubbles
Snufflebabe Vapour Bath Bubbles needs mentioning in this post as it is the only vapour bubble bath product. Snufflebabe is a hypoallergic formulation containing essential oils including:
- Thymol and Menthol
Combination of the essential oils makes the soothing bath time at the same time helping with sniffles and symptoms of blocked nose. This bubble bath formula can be used in babies from 3 months of age.
Can you use Vicks on a baby?
Vicks should not be used on children under 2 years of age, however Vicks BabyRub can be used in babies three months and older.
How do I decongest my baby?
Parents can use a number of products to decongest their child: saline nasal spray or drops, nasal aspirations (manual and electric), vapour rubs or oils, bubble bath products and essential oils diffusers.
Can I use Vicks Vapor Rub on a 6 month old?
Vicks should not be used on children under 2 years of age, however, Vicks BabyRub can be used in babies three months and older.
Should I suction my baby's nose?
Nasal aspirators (manual and electric) can be used to remove mucus from baby's nose effectively.
Bergmann, C., Müller, K., Thieme, U. et al. Real-World Data on the Use of Hypertonic Saline Nasal Spray in ENT Practice. SN Compr. Clin. Med. 1, 354–361 (2019). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42399-019-0050-y Accessed on 30/06/2020
Bernstein Leonard (2000). Is the use of benzalkonium chloride as a preservative for nasal formulations a safety concern? A cautionary note based on compromised mucociliary transport. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0091-6749(00)90175-1 Accessed 30/06/2020
Paul IM, Beiler JS, King TS, Clapp ER, Vallati J, Berlin CM Jr (2010). Vapour rub, petrolatum, and no treatment for children with nocturnal cough and cold symptoms. Pediatrics. 2010;126(6):1092-1099. doi:10.1542/peds.2010-1601 Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1542%2Fpeds.2010-1601 Accessed on 02/07/2020