Blocked and Runny Noses in Babies

Snot. Some babies are born with excess mucus, some develop it from viruses and some kids, as they grow up, are just the snotty kid. I have one, and it sucks, particularly now with covid - where having a snotty nose means everyone runs away from you because they think it is covid.

A blocked nose and excess mucus is annoying at any age, however can be very problematic for our little babies, it can get in the way of their sleeping and, most importantly, their feeding and breathing.

With the cold and flu season well underway and the increase of Influenza A and covid already making an impact on our little ones, we have put together this snot blog. What to do if your little babe is unwell with a virus, is full of snot that is negatively impacting their breathing and feeding.

Check it out below and also check out our awesome new product- Snotty Bosses- the best way to help clear up a snotty nose, making your little babe more comfortable and easier for them to feed.

Did you know that it is common for healthy kids to get up to 12 viral illnesses a year in their first few years of life? No, that’s not a typo. TWELVE. Doesn’t that suck?

Did you know that babies are obligatory nose breathers? What does this mean? It means they predominately breath through their nose.

Add that to having very little nasal passages, when you add a bit of sticky snot it makes it very difficult for them to breath and even harder for them to drink milk.

This is why when little babies get a virus and develop excess mucus they sometimes don’t want to feed, or only feed a little bit.

This happens because they are trying to breathe and feed at the same time, out of snot filled, tiny, nasal passages. It’s too hard for them to breathe and feed at the same time, so their body decides breathing is more important – so they stop feeding.

A snotty or blocked nose can be associated with bronchiolitis in babies up to the age of 12 months.

What is Bronchiolitis?

It is a long fancy medical name for a baby with a chest infection caused by a viral infection effecting the lungs. The virus causes inflammation of the lower airways creating a build up of mucus making it difficult to breathe. It can be caused by many different viruses including influenza and Covid. The most common virus that causes it is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

It is more common in babies under 6 months but can occur in babies up to 12 months.

What can we do for our little babies blocked noses?

If you think your baby has a virus see your GP. If your baby has a mild virus you will likely be able to manage it at home.

It is important for the baby to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration. This is one of the most common complications associated with a blocked nose or virus.


Feed smaller amounts, but more frequently. This helps them not to tire. It is hard work trying to co-ordinate breathing through a blocked nose and feeding.

Babies predominantly breath through their nose. So you can imagine when it is full of snot and they are trying to breath and feed they might struggle. There are devices that can help get rid of the snot, and help them feed better. We have just started stocking Snotty Bosses. It is a nasal aspirator to help clear out the nose and help our little babes feed and sleep better. Check them out on our online store here.


The aim when using these devices is not to clear out all the snot- this, my friend, is impossible. It is to make them comfortable, help them to feed, sleep and breath better. They are never going to be snot free until their virus goes.


Before a feed is ideal. We want to avoid dehydration so suctioning before feeds is so important to help your little one get a good feed. Not all babies need suctioning, if it is runny just give it a wipe, no need to suction.

Saline drops are super helpful too, I am a really big believer in them. They help clear out the nasal passage of mucus, which helps your baby to feed easier. This can be done before every feed when they are sick. You can either use saline drops (the same ones that are in your family first aid kit) or little nasal sprays (the ones that come with your snotty boss nasal aspirator). Follow the instructions on the packet, but it is as simple as holding baby and squirting a spray of saline up their nose. Be sure to do both nostrils and be gentle when putting the nozzle in their nose, if it goes too high it can damage the nasal passage. Your baby will wiggle and squirm, but remember this is helping them breath better and hopefully improve their feeding. Give them a big cuddle after it. If you can do it with two people- one to hold the baby, one to do the spraying, it is a little easier.

Other helpful bits and bobs

• Allow your baby to rest. Let them sleep as long as they need.
• Provide comfort with pain relief and make sure you write down the times and follow the labels for dosing.

When to seek help?

If your little one is not improving or showing any of the following signs, we recommend heading to your nearest emergency department.

• Having difficulty breathing, irregular breaths or fast breathing when resting
• Cannot feed normally because they are coughing or wheezing
• Changing colour in the face when they cough
• Pale and sweaty.
• Lethargic
• If you are worried for any reason

Kids getting sick is a part of life and developing their immune systems. It can feel like it is never ending sometimes. Hopefully with this information you feel more equip to look after your little one when they pick up a virus.

Don’t forget to have a well-stocked first aid kit, including a digital thermometer, saline drops or a spray and a nasal aspirator so that you are prepared for when viruses hit your little ones. All of these items are recommended by health professionals and are available in our online store.

Sending you all lots of sleep, strength, caffeine to get through this winter period.

Written on the 2nd of May 2022 by Laura, a Paediatric Emergency Nurse and mum of two little loves. As always, information on this website is for educational purposes only.

Please consult your GP for information specific to your child.


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