How to use a bulb syringe on a newborn

Written by tiffany bennett
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How to use a bulb syringe on a newborn
Use a bulb syringe to help your newborn breathe more easily. (Paul Cooklin/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

While no baby gets excited at the sight of a bulb syringe, this simple tool can help relieve the misery of congestion due to the excess mucus that often crowds a baby's tiny nasal passages. The bulb syringe is especially helpful for newborns, who are often congested for several days after birth. By using this instrument to carefully suction mucus from your newborn's nose, you'll help you and your baby both feel better.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Bulb syringe
  • Saline solution
  • Tissues or paper towels
  • Dish soap

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  1. 1

    Position the baby with his back against your thighs and head touching your knees. Tilt his head back at a slight angle so you can easily reach the nasal passages.

  2. 2

    Squirt two drops or sprays of saline solution into each of your baby's nostrils. With his head still angled back, allow the solution to loosen the mucus inside the nasal passages. Wait a couple minutes for the saline solution to take effect.

  3. 3

    Squeeze the rounded part of the bulb syringe to expel the air inside. Be careful to do this away from the baby's face. Hold the bulb syringe in a deflated position.

  4. 4

    Insert the tip of the bulb one-half to one-fourth an inch into one of the baby's nostrils. Gently release your grip on the bulb, allowing the suction to draw mucus out of the nose and into the bulb.

  5. 5

    Remove the syringe and hold it upside down over a tissue or paper towel. Squeeze it quickly to expel the mucus from the bulb. You may need to squeeze it several times to remove as much mucus as possible.

  6. 6

    Wipe the baby's nose to remove any loose mucus caused by the suctioning.

  7. 7

    Repeat the process with the second nostril. It may help to press the other nostril closed while you are suctioning.

  8. 8

    Wait five to 10 minutes to see if the congestion is relieved. If not, repeat the process in both sides of the nose. Avoid suctioning the baby's nose more than three times a day.

  9. 9

    Clean the bulb by squeezing hot, soapy water in and out of it multiple times and then rinsing with hot water. Thoroughly scrub and rinse the outside of the bulb. Do not put the syringe in the dishwasher.

  10. 10

    Place the bulb, tip down, on the rim of a glass to dry. Store in a clean area until the next use.

  11. 11

    Call your baby's paediatrician if the congestion worsens or persists for several days.

Tips and warnings

  • To keep from spreading germs, avoid using your bulb syringe for more than one child.
  • If your baby refuses to be still, wait and try the procedure a different time. Trying to suction your baby's nose while he is moving may injure the nasal passages.

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