Unstuffing A Stuffy Baby?
January 10, 2018 11:59 AM   Subscribe

Hi! YANMPediatrician, but: Ms. Drapatz and I have a delightful 3 week old tiny girl person. She is generally unfussy and delightful and seems in good health (no problems eating or peeing/pooping, gaining weight, etc.), but at night she has some snuffles which wake her (and us) up and lead to fussing and general sadness. Her snuffles are sometimes dry sounding and sometimes liquidy sounding, but we don't think she has an actual cold. Does anyone have any go to baby magic to help with this?

We are currently doing the following to try to unsnuffle her:
Saline Drops (make her cranky but seem to help a little)
Warm Mist Humidifier in room (Note: it's a small humdifier, should we get another?)
Crib up on an angle
Making a sauna with our shower and hanging out in the bathroom
Trying the NoseFreda (but nothing comes out!)

She always sleeps on her back in a Snoo - during the day maybe she has the same stuff in her nose but because we're always snuggling and feeding it isn't a problem? Also she sneezes well during the day but kind of refuses to sneeze at night. We've tried tickling her nose with a feather and putting some pepper in a teabag and having her sniff it, but neither thing will get a sneeze out.

Is there anything else we can try? Conversely, is anything we're doing crazy or possibly making things worse? I think she'd be sleeping pretty well if we could figure out the snuffling thing. Thanks for your help!
posted by drapatz to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So our 7-month-old definitely was stuffy at times in recent history. If I have the timeline right in my head, we probably had a few occasions of stuffiness at that age, but the shower sauna trick worked wonders for us. That said, it did seem like we had to ride it out and just give it a week or two. Angled crib might have helped too, but we couldn't really tell.

Warm Mist Humidifier in room (Note: it's a small humdifier, should we get another?)

We were specifically told to get a cool mist humidifier for him when he got stuffy again a couple of months ago, and that seemed to work well this time around. (Save yourself the hassle and get the Wirecutter recommended Honeywell HCM-350. I went with a different model originally and the Honeywell is better in every way - build quality, ease of use, cleanability, etc.)
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:08 PM on January 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

We went the opposite way on the cool mist humidifier, starting with the Honeywell HCM-350 but getting annoyed by its fussiness and filter replacement issues. We use a Crane that doesn't have a filter.
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:13 PM on January 10, 2018

My 6mo is snuffly in the same way - doc checked him out yesterday and says he basically has I believe the scientific term is a buncha dried boogies in there due to winter dryness, so saline and lots of moisture via humidifiers and shower sauna is the way to go. Nosefrida / inclined crib only works on well wet goo not the dried crumblies (sorry again for getting so technical). You might try air purifier, and maybe your room is dustier than daytime environments?
posted by sestaaak at 12:15 PM on January 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

(Also, using a whooooooooole bunch of saline solution as a prequel to the NoseFreda is pretty helpful. We get way more stuff out of the kiddos nose with it.)
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:15 PM on January 10, 2018

Are you sure it's not just newborn breathing? Newborn breathing is BIZARRE, I wish someone had told me before I rushed my perfectly healthy infant to the hospital :).
posted by EtTuHealy at 12:46 PM on January 10, 2018 [7 favorites]

Yeah, lots of saline drops, wait 5-10 minutes, then Nosefrida.
Other than that, wait for your baby to grow. Her little airways will get bigger fairly soon.
posted by telepanda at 1:39 PM on January 10, 2018

We have had really good success with nursing/feeding baby in the shower/sauna. The combination of the steam helping loosen stuff with being forced to breathe through her nose and swallow a lot really helped clear her out.
posted by sleeping bear at 1:44 PM on January 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Super common at that age, they're still learning how to clear out their ENT passages.

I kept my kids in one of those Velcro baby-wrap things (sleep deprivation makes me fail at remembering the actual name of the thing) and then laid them on their sides rather than on their back. They got rotated to the other side every couple of hours when we woke to nurse. Airway was kept clear, and the bonus is that kiddo won't develop a flat spot.

Otherwise, seconding steamy showers and nursing (sitting in a recliner if you've got one). I also found the Nose Frida to be extremely helpful.

I'm not a fan of saline drops; I don't like the idea of blowing bacteria in the nose back up into the sinus cavity, even if the idea is that the saline will kill any bacteria.
posted by vignettist at 2:51 PM on January 10, 2018

I'm going to second EtTuHealy's comment. I have a 16 week old and up until around 10-12 weeks her breathing would wake me up at night. (Then at 10-12 weeks I woke up because her breathing WASN'T keeping me up at night anymore.) My pediatrician told me the grunts, groans, snoring, snuffling were all just normal newborn breathing stuff.

We have a cool mist humidifier now because the heat always being on was drying out her skin. I regularly take her into the bathroom in her bouncer chair while I'm showering, so she does get a steam treatment.

Here's something to consider: if your baby can nurse/bottle feed for a sustained period of time, they can probably breath through their nose just fine.
posted by CMcG at 5:35 PM on January 10, 2018

Yeah, sleeping newborns are just kinda snuffly and grunty. If she seems to be breathing fine while awake I wouldn't worry about doing anything.
posted by JuliaJellicoe at 7:25 PM on January 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the help and perspective!
posted by drapatz at 8:41 PM on January 10, 2018

You guys sound like awesome caring parents.

My only add is if there are pets / dust / allergies at play.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:27 AM on January 11, 2018

Oh but sleep! Do you use a white noise machine or app? They are meant to help the baby sustain sleep and they do help block out some of the grunts.
posted by CMcG at 4:14 AM on January 11, 2018

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