If your toddler has a cold or allergies and is irritable, restless or otherwise difficult to manage, it may be because he has a stuffy nose. Nasal congestion is a common symptom in toddlers and it can lead to many sleepless nights for both you and your child. Fortunately, there are several remedies for a toddler's stuffy nose that you can try at home.
Types of Congestion
There are two main types of congestion that can cause a stuffy nose. The first is caused when nasal passages become inflamed, either through irritation due to colds or as a response to allergies. The second type of congestion is caused by mucous blocking the nasal passages, which is a common symptom of colds. These two types of congestion can occur at the same time, and both should be treated to help your toddler's stuffy nose.
Remedies for Congestion Due to Mucus
There are several remedies for congestion, and using a combination of these is likely to give the best results for your toddler. If there is excessive mucous causing the congestion, you can try any of following:
Sterile saline solution can help to break up mucous without the use of decongestant drugs, allowing your toddler to breathe better. You can buy saline solution from a pharmacy, or you can make your own using boiled distilled water and plain cooking salt (see Resources). If you do decide to make your own, be certain to sterilise everything you use in the process to avoid potential contamination.
A little petroleum jelly around the nostril area can prevent nasal dryness and allow mucous to be more easily dispelled when your child blows her nose. Take care to use only a little, as too much can actually make breathing more difficult.
Those same little bulbs that you use to suction mucous from your baby's nose can still be used on your toddler if he has trouble blowing his nose on his own. Be prepared to have someone help you keep your toddler calm if he's reluctant to let you use the nasal aspirator, and take care not to insert the tip too far into the nostril cavity.
Remedies for Congestion Due to Nasal Inflammation
If your child has allergies or congestion that is related to nasal inflammation, you can help to relieve the symptoms through these methods:
You can use a cool-mist or warm-mist humidifier, but cool-mist humidifiers have the added important benefit of not being able to burn your child should she inadvertently get too close. You'll want to make sure you keep the humidifier cleaned regularly to avoid the growth of mould.
There are petroleum-based products that contain eucalyptus and menthol that can help bring a sense of relief to stuffy noses. You can apply these products to your child's chest and back. Another method is to apply the product to a warm, damp towel, and leave the towel in your child's shower as you wash him up. The vapours will mix with the steam of the shower itself, and can clear some stuffy noses.
If your child has seasonal allergies or severe ongoing allergies, the best method of relief may be to speak with your child's paediatrician and get allergy medication to help. Whether over-the-counter medicine or by prescription, you'll want to watch carefully for any potential side effects.
Stuffy Nose Causes
If your child continually has a stuffy nose, she may have allergies related to dust mites. In this instance, using bedding designed to minimise exposure to dust and dust mites may help to significantly improve your child's ability to breathe. Always consult with a physician if you suspect allergies of any kind--getting a proper diagnosis early on is your best option.
If you or someone in your household smokes, this may also be a factor in your toddler's stuffy nose. Second-hand smoke can lead to long-term allergies in children, and it can cause other problems down the line. If possible, avoid exposing your toddler to smoke-filled environments.
If your child's stuffy nose is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a high fever or rash, consult with your doctor for the best advice for treatment. Likewise, seek medical attention immediately for any severe allergic reactions--do not try to treat these types of conditions at home.
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