A child may have a stuffed-up or runny nose for a number of reasons. It may simply be because she is crying, but it could also be because she has a cold or other infection. If this is the case, the color of the mucus is in no way related to how serious the infection is. Coloured mucus is not a sign of a bacterial infection.
If your child has a stuffed-up or runny nose, you don’t necessarily have to clear it. However, if she is having trouble feeding or sleeping because of a stuffy nose, you can try clearing it out. There are several ways of doing this:
- Take a long bath or shower with your child or let her play in the bath. The water and steam can make the mucus more liquid and help clear her nose.
- If the mucus is thick, use a saline solution (salt water) in nasal mist or nasal drop form.
- When the bottle’s empty, you can make up another batch of saline solution yourself.
- Nasal mist works better to clear out a baby’s nose and some people find it easier to use, but it costs more. If you opt for nasal mist, choose one that’s appropriate for your child’s age and be sure to follow the directions on the bottle.
- Always opt for a saline solution (salt water) rather than medicated drops or sprays (e.g., decongestant).
- When necessary, use a nasal suction device or bulb syringe to remove mucus from your child’s nose, being careful to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. A nasal suction device is more effective than a bulb syringe and is less likely to injure your child’s nose, and many parents find it easier to use.
You can also apply a non-medicated ointment (such as Vaseline) if the skin around the nose is irritated.
If your child has had a runny nose for more than 10 days and you are concerned about her health, call your doctor.
There are several recipes for saline solution (salt water) to treat stuffy noses. Here is one: Add 10 ml (2 level tsp.) of salt and 2.5 ml (½ tsp.) of baking soda to 1 litre (4 cups) of cooled boiled water.
Store this solution in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Take the desired amount out of the refrigerator and wait until it reaches room temperature before using it.
Cleaning your child’s nose with salt water
- Lay your child on her back.
- Insert a dropper with salt water (1 ml) into the nostril. Don’t push the dropper too far in: place it gently at the entrance of each nostril.
- Wipe the child’s nose or get her to blow it by breathing out through her nose if she’s able to.
- Repeat as necessary.
- Wash the dropper in hot water and wipe dry.