Is your baby sound congested? Having hard time breastfeeding and sleeping? Learn about causes,signs of infant congestion plus get natural remedies.
Soon after birth, they learn to latch on properly and become efficient in extracting milk from mothers breast within 3-4 weeks for most cases. I wish they would learn to blow their nose that quickly. This simple skill would let infant fight congestion like a pro. Imagine.. Life would be so easy for babies and moms. But for now, we need to find safe and reliable alternative to help congested baby.
In this article, we’ll talk about
- What causes infant congestion?
- What are the signs and symptoms of congestion?
- Natural remedies to treat infant congestion
What causes Infant Congestion?
Congestion in infant is caused by either swelling of nasal passages or build up of extra fluid called mucus in the nose or airways resulting in stuffy nose. This is body’s natural way to defence against internal or external stimuli.
Infants nose are so sensitive that even one drop of breast milk goes in to nose while spit up can cause congestion.
The most common cause of congestion in infant are infections, either viral origin or allergies.
External stimuli responsible for congestion
Infants can be allergic or sensitive to milk based formulas. When a baby is allergic to milk, babies’ immune system which normally fights infection, reacts to the cow’s milk proteins. The body fight against these proteins and that lead to an allergic reaction. This allergic reaction can cause hives, coughing, trouble breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, diaper rash. Fortunately, many kids outgrow milk allergies.
If your baby is allergic to milk based formula, pediatrician recommends extensively hydrolyzed formula or an amino acid based formula. This formula is less likely to cause an allergic reaction as the proteins are broken down into particles.
If your infant is allergic to milk and is exclusively breastfed, then you need to contact pediatrician to get suggestion about changing diet.
Bad Air Quality
Infants airways are so immature and sensitive that irritants in air can cause the congestion or worsen it. Use of perfume, smoke of any kind, dust, air freshener can cause breathing harder for infants.
Here are some suggestions to keep air clean in your house making sure your baby breathe clean air
- Change air and furnace filter regularly
- Avoid scented products such as perfumes, laundry detergent, soap and shampoo
- Keep baby away from cooking smoke, cigarette smoke
- Bring air purifier plants
- Use natural air purifier like activated charcoal air purifier bags
Bad Hygiene Practice
Infant’s immune system is immature so baby needs extra protection from germs that lead to infection and illness. Good hygiene practice within household can conquer half of the battle with infection.
Here are some suggestions to keep baby away for infection and illness
- Wash your hand with antibacterial soap before handling baby
- Limit number of visitors or offer hand sanitizer before handling baby.
- Keep sibling away from the baby if they are sick
- Launder your baby’s cloths, towels and bedding regularly and separately
- Heavily soiled item should be laundered separately with hot water setting
Internal stimuli responsible for congestion
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
RSV is one of the most common causes of respiratory illnesses in infants. If you see lots of mucus and congestion than it is a sign that your infant has RSV infection. Although, it usually goes away within a week or two, it may lead to more severe infection such as bronchiolitis, pneumonia. These infections require medical attention.
The common cold and flu
The common cold is viral infection in infant’s nose and throat. It is caused by one of 100 viruses. According to Mayo clinic, most babies have up to seven colds within first year of their lives. Infants are more susceptible to common colds because of immature immune system and they haven’t been exposed to most of the viruses yet.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Congestion?
Signs and symptoms vary among congested infants. Some behave normal other than stuffy nose, while other shows symptoms. It is advisable to keep eye on any symptoms they exhibit, as they can’t communicate.
When the mucus is primarily in the nose, nasal congestion symptoms include:
- Noisy breathing
- Thick or discolored nasal mucus
- Decreased appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty feeding
When the mucus is primarily in the lungs, nasal congestion symptoms include:
Natural Remedies to help Congested Infant
Fortunately, there are many things that you can do at home to make your little one more comfortable.
Breast milk is referred to as a liquid gold. Along with frequent feeding when infant is ill, one or two drop of breast milk in nose help loosen congestion. Then use nasal aspirator to drain loosen mucus out or hold baby in upright position to drain it out.
Researcher believes that when a baby is sick, he/she passes on a cue through saliva to signal mother’s body to produce milk with illness specific antibodies to fight against illness. Therefor, frequent breast feeding during illness helps clear infection quickly.
Nasal saline will also work to loosen mucus if you are not breast feeding. Add a drop or two of nasal saline in each nostril. If you prefer to buy nasal saline, make sure it is only salt and water and no added medication. You can also make it at home. Mix a quarter teaspoon of non-iodised salt to 8 ounces of bottled water or previously boiled water.
Tip– Before feeding congested baby, put 1-2 drops of breast milk or nasal saline in baby’s nostrils. These will loosen the mucus and baby can breathe easily while nursing.
Cool mist humidifier
Cool mist humidifier helps moisten dry nasal passage. Fill up the humidifier with plain water and run in baby’s room when asleep. Place humidifier near crib. It is also important to clean/change water regularly to prevent mold growth in the machine.
Hot shower or Steam room
Run a hot shower to create a steam room and let baby breathe in the steam. The warm steam will help loosen mucus. You can also breast feed baby in steam room.
Crib Wedge pillow
Use crib wedge pillow to keep baby’s head higher than their feet. This helps baby breathe better at night. Use wedge pillow in crib under the mattress only to avoid the risk of suffocation.
Breast feed or formula feed baby frequently. Although, it doesn’t directly relieve the symptoms but keeps baby hydrated. If baby is 3 months and up, you can also give water.
Use natural vapor rub like Maty’s chest rub help relieve congestion. Eucalyptus oil and peppermint are main ingredient in Maty’s chest rub. It is safe for babis 3 month and up. When you rub it on their chest or feet, they inhale the vapors that helps congestion.
Roasted Carom Seed Pouch
This remedy works exceptionally well for infants. I have used it whenever my both babies had cough and cold. Vapor from roasted carom seeds are excellent to relieve congestion, helps in breathing and gives a soothing effect.
Roast about 2 tablespoons of carom seeds in a pan for a few minutes till the seeds releases menthol like aroma.
Take a muslin cloth and transfer the seeds to it. Next, carefully tie it to make a tight pouch and let it cool. Then keep it in crib next to the wedge pillow while baby’s asleep.
You can make a roasted carom seed pouch neckless for baby and they inhale vapor from it to relieve congestion.
Is Over-the -Counter Congestion medicine safe to use for Infant?
It’s a big no-no to use over-the-counter cough and cold medicine in children under 4 years old according to FDA. It can have a dangerous side effect.
When to seek Medical attention for Infant Congestion?
Except congested nose, if baby is eating well and active than keep eye on baby for couple of days. If symptoms persist after a few days of using natural remedy than seek medical attention. Get immediate help if you see following signs:
- Flared nostrils
- Breathing hard and quick
- Breathing using stomach muscles
- High-pitched wheezing
- Fussiness and lethargy
- High Fever
- Pale or blue skin
How do you help your Infant?
Have you tried any natural remedies to help relieve congestion in your Infant? Do you have any tips? Please let us know in comments below.