35 answers

Any Tips for Cleaning Baby's Nose W/ Saline and Bulb Syringe - He Hates It!

I have a 7 month old who caught his first cold and has congestion and a runny nose. It's difficult for him to breathe and so the dr. recommended using saline drops and bulb syringe to suction out the mucus. The problem is that he absolutely hates me using it on him and the moment he sees the bulb syringe, he starts twisting his head from side to side and fussing. So it's difficult to even aim the drops in his nose because he's moving so much and hates it. Even when I try to wipe his nose with a kleenex or wet wipe, he does the same thing. Any advice on how to do this easily?

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Featured Answers

Hello,
I have a 7 month old baby too. I was experiencing the same problem when trying to clean his nose with the Saline and Syringe. So one day I started playing with him, using the syringe on his little arms and his little face then do it to mine and I laugh outloud. He started to laugh too and somehow he was willing to let me try it in his nose. After I try it I laugh outloud and say Yucky! he laughed and forgot what it was all about. Hey, I was desperate to help him out and get him to breathe through his nose.
MJ

Use a humidifier in his room, esp at naps and nightime. Put him in the tub and let the water and steam help decongest him. Using just the saline should help. Asparating the nose is so hard on the little guys. Just helping them unstuff and letting the nose run will help them feel better. Good luck, my nine month old has had a cold for a week (which is why I recommended the humidifier).

We tried several different style syringes before finding one my daughter (8 mo) will tolerate. The best was the Rite Aid brand nasal aspirator. It has a hard plastic bulb that provides suction from the nasal opening and doesn't stick up inside the tender nostril. Plus the end separates from the rubber bulb for easier cleaning. I found it at Longs Drug, it's also available at http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.asp?pid=181468&amp...

More Answers

There is nothing you can do - all children hate it, and once they get to the age where they can actually blow their own noses, they will run when they see the tissue coming too! I used to sneak up on my daughter from behind then grab her head and hold it against me and do it real quickly before she could anticipate what was happening - of course she didnt like it, and I have had to physically hold her down to get that nose clean. Now that she is 2, it is even worse, and I actually have to clamp her screaming, tantruming, flailing body between me knees to even get her nose wiped (heaven forbid she have to take medicine - even if it tastes good, I have to hold her down and pour it down her throat because she is THAT stubborn!).
So, get used to it. LOL. The unhappiness with nose wiping and medication administering will always be an issue, and as they get older and stronger, you have to think of new ways to sneak up on them or hold them down and get it done quickly.
As a half suggestion, you can use saline spray as opposed to drops - they dont have to stay as still, and it is easier to sneak up on them and do it because they don't have to lie down to get the drops into the sinuses. Go to your local drugstore: they make saline nose spray in a bottle that has a "backwards" spray nozzle so you can just stick it in their nostril from behind, spray it in, and its done before they have a chance to react.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi J.,

I used to swaddle my son when I needed to suction his nose. It made him feel more secure and it also helped keep him keep more still. Good luck! I know its hard to do~

M.

1 mom found this helpful

J. - There is probably no easy way - because it is never fun. We always have to do what we call "doubles duty" when bulbing - that is my husband holds him in his lap and holds his face while I get in there with the bulb. I am always sure to have water or milk onhand to rinse down the saltiness right away and of course a big hug and a commendation on good behavior. My child eventually got used to it and now sticks the bulb in his nose by himself.

Hi J..
You've already received great advice, so I am simply seconding (thirding? fourthing?) much of it. Holding your son in a steamy room will help loosen the mucus, whether or not you plan to use a bulb syringe. Prop up his crib with either a pillow under (not over!) his mattress or boards under the front legs of the crib. A cool mist humidifier (son can't get burned by it) throughout the night can also really help. And sadly, pinning down your poor child is often necessary. It is also easier if there is another person around and one of you holds him down (arms out of the way, head still if possible) while the other uses the bulp syringe. Our son used to like to play with a bulb syringe, and we had one for that purpose. However, he still hated it when we used it and when we wiped his nose and all the things you mentioned. One more suggestion that I never did and never could do -- it's soooo gross, but it worked when our son's nanny did this (those who are squeemish should stop reading now!) -- is to suck the snot out of your child's nose with your mouth and then (obviously!) spit it out. Blurgh!!! I watched her do this a few times, and it definitely upset him less than the syringe. However, as much as I love my son more than anything in this world, I could never do this unless I thought he would be gravely hurt if I did not. However, if you are less squeemish than I am, I suppose you could try this. It's something that her mom, aunties, and grandma all did. For all of you shuddering right now, don't say I didn't warn you!
K.

My daughter is 8 months now and hates to have her nose wiped too. I tried the bulb syringe thing a few times but gave up as it seemed to just torture her.

When she's had a cold I found the best thing I could do for her was to run a humidifier next to her bed at night so that her mucus remians soft and she can keep it moving herself. I also put her in her carseat (in the bedroom) so she could sleep upright and let gravity drain her nasal passages. We all slept better doiing this and I just had to let go of my cosmetic need to keep her nose clean.

Anybody (you even!) would run away if you saw something coming that you know they're gonna poke into your nose! What I would do if you're comfortable using the sucker bulb is softly "sandwich" his head between your legs/knees and do it quickly. Then cuddle after!

I think I did baths more often than the bulb just because it wasn't easy for me to use it. Once he's been playing in a warm bath for a bit, it just comes dripping out. Then after his bath, you wonder why you needed the bulb sucker.

I was much better at the nose wiping thing I think. What most people do is a quick pinch/wipe to the bottom of the nose. Now, anyone with a runny nose that is wiped often and has become red and sore and tender, if a nose like this sees a kleenex coming, they run for their lives!! What I do is quickly, GENTLY, softly put the kleenex over their nose, gently pinching/squeezing down the nose so that it pushes the mucus out, then gently wipe/pull away the mucus. Instead of just dragging the kleenex across the sore part of the nose. (Think of how YOUR nose feels when it's all red and sore)
I've had kids over that had runny noses and reacted the same way to the sight of a kleenex become a lot calmer for subsequent nose wiping. Your goal is to get the moisture and/or clog away from their nose so they're comfortable.

And good luck. Sometimes you just gotta do the necessary evil for their good.

I hold my baby in my left arm and pin his head against my shoulder while using my left hand to hold his arms down. Then I use my right hand to do the syringe. It's not fun, but if you do it quick, then it's not torture. It's not easy, but if you can't breathe, nothing else matters!

When I have to use those things, my son knows right away too and also freaks out. What I have to do is lay him down, then I straddle him (meaning I get on top of him with my legs on either side of his arms) I make sure not to actually sit down, I just make sure my legs are making it so his arms are pinned down and I have my knee as forward enough so that I can use one hand and one knee to hold his head in place then perform the procedure on one nostril and then switch to using the other knee and get the other nostril. It has seemed to work the best for me because it goes faster if he is not moving all over the place and I don't end up jamming the stuff up there and hurting the inside of his nose. Unfortunately using the bulb syringe and saline is a necessary evil so just do it! Even though he is upset, he will feel better from it. After I am done, I tell my son that we're all done and I help him up then cuddle him for a few minutes and then he's fine.

J.,

I too used the bulb syringe to remove mucous from my little girl's nose. In fact, I used it off and on for months, whenever she was congested and there was something I could actually suck out. My baby hated it too. It's just a miserable, necessary evil at times. She cried while I did it and tried to turn her head away. I just tried to be as quick and efficient as I could, then comfort her right after. I would hold her head secure with my left hand and arm (I'm right handed), and then very gently but quickly made sure I made it in the nostril to get the stuff out. I never tried saline with her. Instead, when I noticed her with a stuffy nose that had no productive mucous, I would use a humidifier in her room during naps and make sure she was breast feeding enough to keep her hydrated.
I don't know if this helps, but I'm a nurse who is used to caring for adults, and I know that the saline down the nose/throat can be VERY irritating to an adult patient. People describe it as if they're choking. I guess if the saline is truly needed, so be it; but I tried to steer clear of that and only use the bulb syringe when the mucous was moist and able to be removed.
I know it's so hard to watch your baby cry--especially when you know you're causing it, even for their own good. Hang in there and good luck!

S. J.

Hi J. B...

I'm also a first time mom who works full time. My son is 16 months old, and has always hated the bulb syringe. I finally got a tip from his day care provider that works every time. He still hates it...but it's much easier and quicker.

Lay your son down on his back (on the floor), with his head between you legs. Put his arms under your legs so he doesn't try to pull the syringe away. He may still try to fight, but at least you'll have both hands free to do the job. I always find it helpful to entertain/distract my son by singing or talking to him right before I place the syringe in his nose.

This also works great with eye drops as well.

Good luck to you!

Easily?...afraid not...BUT if Dad or other is available that can help. Other thing I did was wrap my son up snuggly in a blanket, or his bath towel...think swaddle...and then quickly do my business. My son is just getting over a cold (1 yr and they only get wigglier and stronger ;-) and now he is starting to realize that although he doesn't like it, he does feel better, and so he doesn't struggle quite soo hard. Also, as your nose get chapped from all the rubbing and feels raw, so do their little noses, so be sure to put some soothing lotion after all is said and done to help the area...and then big HUGS always help ease what is a very unpleasant experience for all.

Good Luck! It will end.

try skipping the saline.

Try adding some peppermint oil to his bath water (and maybe some rosemary and eucalyptus) and then try to suction his nose after the bath WHILE NURSING.

My 8 month old also hates the "nose hose" routine but it is necessary sometimes. all I can say is that you are not alone in your struggle and I just try to do it as quickly as I can so it is over faster. Sometimes I have my husband help me hold him down and hold his head, if it just me then I have to hold his body and arms with my legs, gently, so the procedure can go faster. wiping his nose is also a struggle- it is something they just do not and probably will never like to do, such is the life of a mama
good luck

I often found that playing peek a boo with my daughter, covering her eyes a few times then covering mine, in between I would squeeze some in her nose or use the syringe. Squeezing some in during his nap time, morning and night, all while he is asleep should work. If that does not work I recommend to buy some vapor rub for babies and put some on his chest or tip of nose and palm of the foot with socks. It helps with the congestion. Often I would put the vaporizer on with vapor rub liquid which helped the baby sleep through the night!!!You can also steam up the bathroom (run the hot water) and sit with ur child for a few minutes, the steam will help open up his chest congestion.

I lay my baby on her back in between my legs which prevents her from trying to roll away or move her head much. Your baby will be upside down but it makes the saline drops & syringe bulb a LOT easier.

I highly recommend the Bebesounds NasalClear Nasal Aspirator. We could never get the bulb to work right and it really annoyed my (6.5 month old) daughter. This one works really well and she actually seems to like it!

Here's a link:

http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2585646

Good luck!

- J.

Hi J.,

Run your bathoom showers hot or your tub and make sure all windows and doors shut and stay with the baby in there. Steam would help out to clear his nose.
And also use a good humidifier. With the bulb syringe, I let the baby hold it first and show them where it needs to go then I slowly do it for the baby:) Kleenex, i also let them hold it and i hold one too andshow them how it works and they'll follow you:)

Good luck and it takes patience:)

J.
Using the bulb and saline is never easy. I would not want someone to do it to me. I would only use it when your child is in extreme discomfort. That should not be very often. I use steam to break up the mucus. I take my children into the bathroom and turn the shower on super hot, windows and doors closed. About 5 minutes does the trick. They loosen up enough to allow the mucus to drip out or at least clear an airway.

If you do this, place a bucket to collect the water so it is not wasted. You could use the water for your plants, garden, whatever.

Jen

Hello,
I have a 7 month old baby too. I was experiencing the same problem when trying to clean his nose with the Saline and Syringe. So one day I started playing with him, using the syringe on his little arms and his little face then do it to mine and I laugh outloud. He started to laugh too and somehow he was willing to let me try it in his nose. After I try it I laugh outloud and say Yucky! he laughed and forgot what it was all about. Hey, I was desperate to help him out and get him to breathe through his nose.
MJ

Lots of good advice already given. One thing that wasn't noted is that the blub syringe should not be used too much. Overuse can cause more problems. Our ped told us to save the blub syringe for only the necessary times (like right before nursing) but to use the saline as frequently as needed.

Honestly, the same thing happened to my daughter and I know it sounds harsh, but I just had to pin her down. I have her lay on her back, and I gently kneel on her arms (on our bed usually) and then also use my knees to hold her head still. Works wonderfully and once I'm all done, she is happy again. I know it sounds horrible, but it's impossible to pin a child down and do everything with only 2 hands. Good luck! Let me know how it turned out.

I sing and make stupid faces to distract her. I do it with her on the changing table. I use my left forearm to keep her hands down and work the syringe with my right. She does squirm but I still manage to "suck out her brains" - that's the song I sing, it goes to the toon of Farmer in the Dell.

Unfortunatley I had the same problem when my not so little ones were littler ones:0)

Have you aske any local pharmacies about what is called a saline rinse, it is a little messier than the old bulb method but may be a less traumatic alternative.

Best of luck J..

Maria Marsh

hi my baby doesn't like it either...my husband does it...I put on a humidifier (spelling?)...warm or
cool...also put a pillow under the crib or bassinet mattress so it is
on a slight angle...so that when she is lying down the mucus will come out.
10 percent angle.

I just finished reading everyone's responses, and I agree with them all. The one thing I wanted to add is that I use a saline spray for my children. It's called "Simply Saline" and it comes in a metal bottle. It is the best discovery I have ever made. I could never get the drops to work because my kids would squirm around like crazy and they would just end up running down their cheeks. With the spray I don't have to lay them down or anything. I just put the nozzle in their nose while they are sitting there and push down. They get a mist of saline, and it's done. Don't get me wrong. They hate that too and I still have to hold their arms down. But I think it's easier.

If I remember correctly (it's been many years) they all hate it. It's just one of those brutal things you have to do for their own good.

Use a humidifier in his room, esp at naps and nightime. Put him in the tub and let the water and steam help decongest him. Using just the saline should help. Asparating the nose is so hard on the little guys. Just helping them unstuff and letting the nose run will help them feel better. Good luck, my nine month old has had a cold for a week (which is why I recommended the humidifier).

We tried several different style syringes before finding one my daughter (8 mo) will tolerate. The best was the Rite Aid brand nasal aspirator. It has a hard plastic bulb that provides suction from the nasal opening and doesn't stick up inside the tender nostril. Plus the end separates from the rubber bulb for easier cleaning. I found it at Longs Drug, it's also available at http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.asp?pid=181468&amp...

I am going through the same thing, although I have yet to use the saline drops and probably should. I try to do the nose when he is sleeping, I know that sounds mean, but he actually smiles after I am done. If I have to do it when he is awake, I have to hold his head a little. I think he knows that it makes him feel better, he just hates when I go about doing it. Good Luck.

My babies hated the bulb. Try a warm washcloth and if you wipe over and then away from the nose it will draw out the mucus! K.

Hi J.,

There will be a little fight for a few months...by the next cold it will be easier! I promise!!

I use the drops at the beginning of a diaper change and the sucker after the diaper was changed so that the saline had time to sink in. Make sure she does not see you prepare the bottle and come up under her chin and give her a good squirt before she even realizes what is happening. With the sucker…just be sure to talk to her the whole time. Nice calm low tones put her at ease and even if she is screaming, if your tone stays the same then when you are all done she will realize that it was not all that bad. Tell her one more time, and real quick, and when you are all done have a party.

My first was more of a struggle and I had to hold her wrists with my left hand with my arm pressed up against her right cheek to hold her head against the pad on the changing table. By the time of her second cold she was about a year old and I started showing her the bulb sucker and explaining to her what I was doing and soon she was not liking it, but accepting that it had to be done. Now at three she finally blows her nose, so I only need to use the saline. My youngest has been blowing her nose since she was ten months old but still if I needed to use the sucker I would show it to her and talk her through it. The saline drops take practice, but are the most important! If you find you are struggling too much with the sucker, don’t use it unless really necessary. The drops will loosen everything up and make it come out on its own. The bulb sucker can easily go up too far or sideways and break the soft membrane inside the nose and cause bleeding if you have to fight with her. Give a warm vapor bath before bed too to help with night time congestion.

Best of luck!

J.,

Nothing worse that cleaning their noses! I always had to pin their heads somehow to get it done. When my little ones were sick with a cold or congestions I would raise the end of their bed that they had their head at. Kept things moving, along with a humidifier with a mentholated additive. They have them out there, you can put them in the resevour where the steam comes out or some in the water. Wish you the best of luck!

I tried nosefrida for my daughter (she is 7months old also)...she doesn't hate it as much as the bulb syringe (it is not as gross as it sounds ;) )
http://www.nosefrida.com/

I am going through this problem with my 7 month old too. The only way that I can do it is with the help of Dad. That way we can double team him. But if I am all by myself and I need to do it, the only way that I can really control him is if I sit on top of him (I know that probably sounds weird). Unfortunately he does twist and move his head constantly but then I have to do what I have to do to help him breathe easier. Let me know what you find effective.

My one yo daughter also HATES having her nose wiped, bulbed, or salined :) We have a highchair that has harness straps, and so after she's done eating, I just leave her in there and hold her head between my chest and arm on one side (w/ my elbow above her head), and use the other hand to saline and bulb. I am hoping I'm describing this so it makes sense?! I think the swaddling idea is great as well, if you don't have a highchair.
If you just remember that it is for their own good, and do it as quickly as possible, it's not so bad. Don't be afraid to hold him down, and just let him know that it's ok, mommy's almost done. I always make a big deal out of what a good girl she is when I'm finished :)
We also use a cool-mist humidifier at night, it seems to work better than nothing at all.

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