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Remedies for Congestion in a Newborn

My son is six weeks old and has had problems with congestion for a few weeks, but it seems to be getting worse. I use saline drops and try to clean his nose several times a day, but I don't get anything out usually. I also just started elevating his head when he sleeps and got a humidifier. anyone have any other ideas? The congestion is affecting his sleep and starting to affect his ability to take a bottle.

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you may want to dry rubbing a little baby vicks vapor rub on their clothing. Also my little one kept getting congestion every three weeks after a year I changed doctors and found they did ablood test, he was alergic to whole milk. Something to think about.

My husband read that a cool mist humidifier, if not properly cleaned DAILY, can just send bacteria all over the room. Maybe the saline drops aren't helping and they need to be stopped. They could be making it worse.

S. M

That's about the best you can do at this point. My son's been sleeping in his car seat, since I found it safer than putting something under his mattress. One other thing you might add to what you're doing, is something my Mom told me to try, that she does to her babies at her daycare. Put the Baby Vicks on his feet, and put the socks back on. My son's congestion had been hanging on forever. I did this and it was noticeably better the next day, and gone within 3 days. Hope it helps! I agree with the other advice, also, in that you should probably go ahead and take him to the pediatrician. I waited longer than I wanted to last time, and found that my child's rattle in his breath was bronchitis and he was trying to get pnuemonia.

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Hi L.,

Congratulations on your precious new son!

There are some great suggestions here that are non-invasive that might help. Realize, though, that a six week old baby is much more fragile than a 6 month old or one year old baby. Your pediatrician needs to know about this since you think the congestion is affecting his ability to take a bottle. Always contact your Pedi when you have questions for such a young infant, because minor colds, etc. can quickly lead to bigger problems in one so young.

Good luck!

Janet B
Parent Coach

1 mom found this helpful

You might ask your doctor about this.. because my baby was really congested and stuffy for the first 3 months of her life and it turned out to be a side effect of acid reflux. He may not be showing alot of signs of reflux, but he may have it. Sometimes the acid secretions from the reflux get up in their little nasal cavities and cause this kind of long term chronic congestion. We got her on Prevacid (i didn't want to medicate, but this can really mess up their GI tract and cause long term problems) and her stuffiness and reflux are MUCH better.
just a thought..

ALSO- don't suction more than once or twice a day becuase it can irritate their mucous membranes in their noses and cause them to swell, which makes the congestion worse.


This might be a silly question, but have you taken him to the pediatrician? He might have something he needs antibiotics for. Babies will refuse to eat if they can't breathe while they drink the bottle. If he is not eating he needs to go to the doctor right away. What we think is a cold can be RSV, which is a dangerous virus for babies. My oldest had it and never had a fever. Undress him and look at his tummy and watch him breathe. If his tummy really draws in, he's not getting enough oxygen. Please call the doctor today if this happens. Good luck. C.

My little one had a couple of head colds too. I put a humidifier in her room & found a nasal asperator at Walmart that is battery operated. It all worked wonderfully! That nose sucky was the BEST thing EVER INVENTED! It has quiet a bit of suction & plays music & vibrates when you use it. It has a clear bulb to catch the yuck & you can see if it is working. She loved it. She actually laughed when I cleaned her nose! I would try that with the saline drops & the humidifier & it should help. Poor baby.... good luck!

My son had the same problem. So I bought a Walgreens brand of the Vicks Medicated Vapor Liquid. You put about a cap full in the water of your humidifier and it really opened up my sons nasal passages.

Hi L.
My first daughter was put in the hospital at ten days old for almost a week, in a breathing tent. She stayed on meds and breathing treatments for constant congestion, phlegmy vomiting, coughing for 3 years! Then I figured out what to do and she's been healthy for the last 5 years (she's 8 now). I went green. I started shopping smarter and safer and I get it all shipped to my house....plus it's less expensive cost per use than the toxic stuff I was using before. Let me know if you want to learn more about it. Visit my blog at jenniferbaird.blogspot.com

Keep using the saline drops - make sure you are covering up the open nare with your finger while suctioning. Elevating the head of bed is also very good, just make sure you do it safely, like placing a blanket under the crib mattress at the head of the bed. A humidifier works great, but use a warm mist one - I KNOW, I KNOW everyone says cool mist, but that is because people have actually burned their children by placing the warm mist humidifier too close to the child. Use common sense with placement of the humidifier. All three of my children have had nasal congestion issues and all three of these interventions have worked well for them - a cool mist humidifier only made the congestion worse. Also, your baby is too young to use Vicks VapoRub - the kind that you actually rub on the baby - DO NOT use it. It is a vasoconstrictor - it makes blood vessels constrict, or become more narrow, for a baby this can be VERY BAD - just don't do it. Second opinions and suggestions from other parents can be very helpful, but always, always do your own solid research. That will enable you to make an educated decision regarding your child's healthcare. Hope things get better soon!!

Congratulations on your little bundle of joy!

My only piece of advice would be to be careful how much you use the aspirator (snot snatcher/bulby thing) -- if you're not getting anything, you may only be stimulating that area and causing more mucus to be made.

You sound like you're on the right track to me. Humidifier, steam, elevation. If you're nursing, try using the football hold to help him be able to breathe easier while eating.


K. H, mama to
Catherine, 4y
Samuel, 14m

try sitting in the bathroom with him. Turn the hot water on full blast and let the room fill up with steam. Feed him in there if you have to. It will help him breathe. Humidifiers are great, but imagine that ten times better..

My daughter was diagnosed with severe asthma at 11 months old, and we were in and out of the hospitals until she was 26 months old. I discovered a great wellness company and you can not only use the products for your home, but you can market them as well and work as a stay at home mom if that is what you prefer. We built a new home this past year, no carpet, all tile and wood floors, and have even added a pet to our family and we have been breathing problem free for one year. I credit this to the laundry and cleaning products I have been using as well as alot of prayer. Take a look at the website and you will be amazed what is in normal things for the home that we are using every day. I use their products in the vaporizer when the kids get colds, and they are not as congested and rest much better when using the tea tree oil.
Her is the link to my website, and take care!

You're doing good with the saline drops. My son had it for about 2 months. I got scared, 'cause like your little boy, it sounded like it was in his chest so I went to the ER, i had it also so i went for myself too, and the doctors had x-rays done on his chest and came back neg. She said that to use saline and the extractor and a humidifier. If it does sound like it's in his chest take him to his pediatrition just in case. Babies at that age have a higher risk of RSV. Hope this helps.

If you are nursing, (this sounds weird) you can put some of your breastmilk up his nose to help clear it up. This also helps for conjunctivitis of the eyes.

L. -

I feel for you. We have five month old little boy who attends day care because both of us have to work full time. When he started daycare, he seemed to be congested constantly. We found that Vick's Baby Rub helped tremendously especially at night. There really isn't any medicine in it, it is mostly herbs. You might give it a try. If it continues to get worse, I would consult your ped.

Hope this helps.


Have you tried the old fashion way of putting a little vicks on his chest and sitting in the bathroom with the hot water running and making a steam room? It worked for my kids and grandkids.

Try Young Living RC oil, e-mail me directly if you want to buy it and I will give you my number to buy it on line. I rub it on our girls chests, backs, feet and put it in a cold air diffuser when they are ill with anything containing congestion. Also, are you giving him formula or breast feeding? If you are giving him formula then this could be a cause as they are made from pasteurized milk products. Pasteurization crushes the protein, casein, and this is normally what is responsible for milk allergies, mucus formation and intolerances, not the lactose, according to the Weston A. Price Foundation, which can also be found online. Breast feed him if you can, if not, buy "Nourishing Traditions" Cookbook by Sally Fallon and consider making him the raw milk formula. We have lots of mother's that purchase raw milk from our farm that are beyond happy with the results of this formula. Our website is www.sandcreekfarm.net if we can help.

my son was the same way at 6wks too, i kept calling the dr like everday to give me something or do something. after thinking about it i realized his congestion started at the same time we started cereal, i had put him on oatmeal cereal and this was the main cause for his congestion. i took him off the oatmeal and switched to rice and with in a day or two he i was 80% better! next i switched him to prosobee formula (soy) and 100% better! look at anything new you have introduced to him and maybe you need to change it, when they have congestion that doesnt see to go away, it can sometimes be a sign of an allergy. (always ask dr though) :)

Hi L.-

If it's been going on for a few weeks, first I would suggest that you see your pediatrician. Outside of that the only additional thing I can think of other than what you have already tried is take the baby into the bathroom with you and have a hot shower running. The steam sometimes helps. You might even feed the baby in there so that he can at least get through his bottle.

Good Luck,

Our pediatrician told us to use a cold mist humidifier ,but that didnt seem to work. We tried a warm mist vaporizer along with the product vapo steam solution and added a few spoons of table salt to the water. That really worked for us. Also my little nephew around the same age as yours became pretty congested and landed inthe ER at Herman hospital. They admitted the baby and upon sending them home suggested she use a warm mist vaporizer.

The only other thing we tried when my son had a cold, was letting him sleep in his infant carrier in the bathroom while a hot shower was running. The humidity & sleeping on an incline seemed to help.

I would also take him to the doctor to get checked out. Usually a couple of weeks is enough time to get over a cold, so if he is not improving I would take him to the doc.

Elevating the head of his matress is good. if you are expressing breast milk you can put taht in his nose. it is a natural anticeptic, & works wonders. if not try all you can before you put anything on him or in him from the medicine cabinet. hang in there he will be fine.

I understand what you're going through. My 7 month old was going through the same thing, and I repeatedly heard from the doctor that we were doing the best treatments and that time would heal. It's hard to see them suffer, but it will get better! My motto was as long as she's eating some and happy all was well.

I went thru the same thing with both of my boys. The oldest is allergic to milk and soy products. When I finally got him off of both, he cleared up. The youngest had overly large adenoids, and his ear canals were flat, so any drainage from his nose went straight to his ears. He had ear tubes (twice) and his adenoids removed. Then he was put on nasonex and singulair - kept it all clear! He's now 7 years old and doing wonderful.
I would suggest talking it over with your pediatrician and note when he sounds the worst (ie morning, evening, after eating, etc). This will help them pinpoint what is causing it.
Take care! And Good luck!

Is he breast or bottle fed? My DD is now 3, but we had/have similar problems with congestion. Our doctor suggested trying different types of formula as milk can sometimes cause an increase in mucus secretion. We actually put rolled up towels under her crib mattress to create quite an incline as well as used a sleeping wedge. That seemed to help along with the humidifier which she still sleeps with.

It's awful to see your tiny one struggle to breathe. Go to the doctor and discuss cause/remedy until you can find something that works and satisfies you. Your instincts are his best defense!

Good luck!

My son is now 4 months old but when he was about 3 weeks old I had the same problems with congestion... we used the suction bulb from the hospital and still couldnt keep up with the mucus so we took him to the doctor. The doctor gave our son a prescription for P-Hist DM which has worked wonders for him. Any time the weather changes our son gets allergies and within two doses his allergies are cleared up, after one dose there is noticeable improvement Another trick you might try that worked well with our son was to sleep him in his carseat or on an incline, the incline helped the mucus drain... Just a note of caution during our sons bout with allergies at 3 weeks old he got fluid in his ears from his allergies which caused him to be deaf for approximately a month it cleared up on its own but just watch out for hearing problems when dealing with congestion.

Gosh I remember having the same problems with my son, Simon, at that age. I tried saline & humidifiers also. What worked best for us was the small hand size vaporizer that Vick's makes. They are only about $10, and the refills only cost $5. They worked wonders for my baby, and my husband who is always suffering from congestion. Another thing you might try is running a steamy shower. I would have my husband get in our shower with Simon and just stand in there for about 15 minutes. Of course he never let the hot water get on Simon. As soon as they would get out, Simon's nose would just pour out snot. That's when you can use the nose bulb to suck all the remaining lose junk out. Hope this helps you :)

you may want to dry rubbing a little baby vicks vapor rub on their clothing. Also my little one kept getting congestion every three weeks after a year I changed doctors and found they did ablood test, he was alergic to whole milk. Something to think about.

Well, the doc said they can't reccommend it but I used breast milk up my daughter's nose. Of course my friends all know that I used it for everything, including cradle cap. It seemed to work better than the saline, I used a medicine dropper to get it in there. And I'm not sure of the ages, but the Vick's Baby Rub works great for my daughter now (she's 21 months) it's eucalyptus, lavender, etc. Good luck!

Because of his age, I am more than a little concerned.
If he has no fever, no cough, and no other apparent symptoms I would be taking him to a pediatrician and then possibly to a pediatric specialist.

I learned with my 3rd child not all doctors know all things and sometimes you have to go get a second opinion--from someone that does know and can help you.

There are illnesses that manifest themselves early on with symptoms like this and if they are caught early they can be treated more aggressively, making the patient less uncomfortble in the long run.

I don't want to worry you too much, but a 6 week old is too young to be taking most cold meds and antihistimines that an older child could take and get relief.

Therefore he really needs someone who can run a few tests or be able to tell the underlying problem of why he is so congested. It would be better to treat the cause rather than the effect. Good luck

I really like the Johnsons vapor bath. It seemed to clear my son up, at least temporarily. Then I had the bright idea to put it in my humidifier so he could smell it all night and it quite working. I think they sell stuff though to put in them. Vicks baby rub is nice too.

Something that clears up congestions for a smaller child like that is vapor rub. You can get the tablets to put in the humidifier and you can get the plugin to put in the wall or you can get the medicine to rub on their chest. It really helped my kids to breath and it didn't matter if it was allergies that were bothering them or a cold that they were trying to fight. It just helped to clear up the congestion in their nose. I didn't ever feel comfortable giving my children medication when they were that young so vapor rub was a good alternative for me.

This may sound like a silly question, but does anyone in your household, or anyone around your baby smoke? Every time my little boy was around my mother-in-law, his allergies would flare up horribly when he was 6 months old, he got RSV after being around her. She lives a ways from us, so didn't see her frequently. It took us a few times of him being around her before we figured it out. I have a friend that smokes - her baby always has allergies. When she quit for a couple of weeks, his allergies got better until she started again.... The other thing could be your babies formula. My oldest was also allergic to milk. Caused runny nose, etc. We had to switch to soy for a while. If your baby is breast-fed, try laying off dairy for a week or so and see if it helps.
Good luck!!!

My pedi suggested suction, saline, and having him sleep in his carseat -- that way he was elevated without using pillows (which, as you know, are really dangerous for babies).
Good luck!

My husband read that a cool mist humidifier, if not properly cleaned DAILY, can just send bacteria all over the room. Maybe the saline drops aren't helping and they need to be stopped. They could be making it worse.

S. M

That's about the best you can do at this point. My son's been sleeping in his car seat, since I found it safer than putting something under his mattress. One other thing you might add to what you're doing, is something my Mom told me to try, that she does to her babies at her daycare. Put the Baby Vicks on his feet, and put the socks back on. My son's congestion had been hanging on forever. I did this and it was noticeably better the next day, and gone within 3 days. Hope it helps! I agree with the other advice, also, in that you should probably go ahead and take him to the pediatrician. I waited longer than I wanted to last time, and found that my child's rattle in his breath was bronchitis and he was trying to get pnuemonia.

Get the bubble bath from Californiababy.com that say cold and flu. It is all natural and it works. I will never be with out it.


My son was the exact same, being a 32 first time mom I too was concerned. What finally did the trick was changing to Lactose Free formula instead of the regular formula.. He just turned one, and I am still using lactose free fresh milk.. It still helps the congestion, the doctor seems to think this will go away by the age of 3, i hope so..

Hope this helps.

when using saline drops , i've read, that they'll just swallow whatever comes out.

Ok I just became a firm believer of this little remedy that a co-worker told me about. He used it on his son and I used it on my daughter and it worked...... After your baby had his bath gets some BABY VICKS and apply it to his feet. Massage it in then put one socks. He should clear up... I also noticed that my daughters congestion would get worst when I gave her milk, I dont know if it thickens up what, so since she is 14 months I would give her more water. Well good luck on that.

I LOVE the vicks vapor plugs. You put a medicated pad in them and plug it in- most of them even have a night light on them. It fills the room with medicated vapors (smells like vicks!)

I don't want to scare you, but it may not be a cold!

I have a 2 year and when he was several months old he started being congested a lot. He would act like he had a cold. It effected his sleep. We took him to the doctor they said he probably had asthma. We did the Vicks thing, we did Saline drops, we did the suction, EVERYTHING. He would get better for a little while and then he would be worse. This continued for several months. After all that I insisted that they send him to a specialist. They sent him to an ear, nose and throat specialist. They said that he had a problem with his esophagus. It folded the wrong way. Long story short we had to greatly thicken his formula, because as he would eat he would breathe part of his formula which was causing the congestion. There is a surgery that can be done if they don't out grow it.

However, the doctor said that if this wasn't the problem he would send us to a heart specialist because sometimes heart problems can appear with symptoms of a cold.

Go to your doctor, if they don't find anything insist they send him to a specialist.

hey, you are doing everything right... one woman suggested looking at your diet, if you are nursing. you may have to restrict some common allergens from your current diet- ask your doc. also, do you have any pets? a very touchy subject, because if you do, you love them with all of your heart, but you may need to change where they can go in the house... just see if it makes a difference.

are you nursing at all? what kind of formula is it if not nursing? if nursing, then you may need to change your diet. start by eliminating wheat then dairy. one of those should be the offender, but you can look up an elimination diet to try more things if that isn't working. if it's formula, he may be allergic to the formula. try switching to a different kind. check with your pediatrician. also, make sure your house is clean. both my kids were allergic to our down pillows in our room. maybe try changing detergents, soaps, etc...hope that helps.
good luck. and p.s. my little boy (4 1/2 months now) was a snotty/congested one until recently. as their immune systems mature, they get better.

I bought a nose frida for my daughter after I read that it works wonders in a Parenting magazine. You can order it online at nosefrida.com......it's inexpensive ($15), and although I hated it at first, after I figured out how to use it, it now works wonders in clearing my little girls clogged up nose. It is basically like a bulb but works ALOT better in clearing out congestion. Also, we used a cool mist humidifier for my daughter.....it seemed to work ok.

Take him in your smallest bathroom, shut the door and put a towel under the crack, turn on your shower and let the bathroom steam up. Do this a couple of times a day.

Sound familiar. My daughter had the same problem and after a few trips to the doctor and my finally threating one they agreed with me that it was allergies. They do make zyrtec in liquid form and for some older babies they also make claritin that way. I would go to the doc and get the zyrtec and some benedryl as well to get hime to a comfortable point, but I wouldn't give it all the time as you want to save the benedryl for allergic reactions and you don't want him to build a tolerance to it. And they may try to give you just the benedryl, don't let them for the aforementioned reason. Good Luck.

Hi L.,

I'm sorry I don't have any advice for you yet, as I am only 10 weeks pregnant with my first child. However, I wanted to ask you what SAHM means? I have seen it on a few peoples profile, and I'm lost! I'm new to Mamasource, thinking it's some kind of "code." Good luck with your baby - it sounds like you are doing all the right things - the humidifier should really help (are you putting vick's in it?)


Maybe allergies? My son (3months) is also the same and has been that way since he was about 3 weeks. The only thing I've noticed is whe the ceiling fan is on it's sometimes worse or when the windows are open. I still have not yet figured it out. If you come up with any solutions PLEASE let me know.

A Little about me: Full time working mom of 3, girls 9 and 10 and I'm nuts son 3 months old, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Oh yeah, common law husband of 5 years and he's an AWESOME "DADDY"!!!!!!!!!


When my children were congested I would put campophenique on their pillow. Touch your fingertip to the open bottle and dab on each side of where their head lays - that way if they turn their head they will still be breathing in the vapor. Good luck.

have you talked to your pediatrician? We had a similar problem and we used ayr saline gel w/ aloe very applied w/ a q tip. We also didn't use his nasal asparator much(ped's orders). She said it would get better as he gets older and his body matures. We've also noticed that the cleaner we keep our house and the less soft surfaces he's around the better. <--we have tile throughout our house but when my son is on the couch his congestion gets worse. I'm not saying your house is dirty (mine isn't clean in the least bit), but when I sweep more and keep the dogs outside it lowers the amount of dust in our house.

We had this problem with my daughter starting at 3 weeks and unfortunately we tried everything and it resolved itself by about 2 1/2 months.
What we tried was:
- saline drops, leave for 15-20 minutes to break things up then suction.
- Humidifier in the bedroom
- Sleep with head/upper body elevated
- We visited the pediatrician (at 7 weeks) who prescribed an antibiotic b/c the congestion had moved to her lungs and the doctor said she had bronchiolitis. (I would visit the doctor to make sure his lungs are alright)
- After the antibiotic, she was still congested but it was no longer causing an infection in her lungs.
- At her 2 month check up, I mentioned it to the doctor again, and she thought it was a reflux problem, where she was burping her milk and gettng put into her nasal passage. She gave us another precription for acid reflux, but my daughter would have to take it for 2 months. I decided to hold off and see if it would cure itself, sure enough, a couple weeks later and she was fine, it resolved on its own.

Check with your doc, to make sure it is not something more serious. I know ours tested for one respitory thing in our daughter and it came neg. so she tried other things.

Good luck.

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