Causes of Nasal Congestion in kids: 8 Ways to Relieve

Baby’s stuffy or runny nose is a matter of concern for every parent but also unavoidable due to their still maturing immune system. Stuffed-up noses are caused by inflammation of the sensitive membranes that line the nasal cavity, and they’re usually nothing to worry about. Nasal obstruction is when the nasal passages are blocked, or there is difficulty breathing from the nose. This is very common in babies and toddlers. Especially it is troublesome for newborns younger than 2 months, as they don’t know how to sniff or blow their nose while adults and older children can blow their noses to help clear their nasal passages. The most common causes for nasal congestion and runny nose in infants and children are infections, mainly of viral origin, or allergies

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Symptoms of nasal congestion

A child with nasal congestion may also have these symptoms

  • Stuffy or Runny nose
  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Itchy eyes, nose, mouth and throat
  • Reduced sense of smell or taste
  • Has difficulty breathing or is unable to breathe
  • Noisy breathing
  • Body aches
  • Recurrent, severe respiratory infection
  • Problem in falling asleep. (some foods that help in sound sleep)
  • Difficulty in feeding
Causes For nasal congestion

Nasal congestion can be caused by any of the following causes:

Cold and flu

Children catch colds when a virus comes in contact with the lining of the nose and throat. There are more than two hundred different viruses causing colds in children, but the Rhinovirus is the most common offender. The symptoms for cold include stuffy or runny nose and sneezing. (Home remedies for cold and flu)

Infection of the sinuses:

Sinuses are moist air spaces within the bones of the face around the nose. When they get infected and swell or become irritated, this is called sinusitis (or a sinus infection).  This infection usually causes nasal congestion.

Allergic rhinitis:

These are the symptoms that occur when you breathe in something you are allergic to, such as dust, animal dander, or pollen. Symptoms can also occur when you eat a food that you are allergic to. (What are some common food allergies in kids?)

Presence of irritants: 

Another prominent cause of blocked nose due to cold in children is the presence of irritants such as dust, smoke, or perfumes around the little one.

Foreign object in nostril:

Nasal congestion in toddlers can also be because of the insertion of small objects like a bead or a peanut by mistake, which make it difficult to breathe properly and need to be taken out immediately.

Large adenoids

When the tissue in the back of the nose in children is enlarged, this may also cause nasal congestion in kids.

When to see a doctor?

In most of the cases nasal congestion is minor and clears up within a few days. If you notice any of the following symptoms, please seek help from your baby’s doctor.

  • Have fever (How to control fever at home?)
  • Nasal discharge persists for more than 10 to 14 days
  • Greenish or bloody nasal discharge
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Your child is eating or drinking less or seems to be having trouble with feeding
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Your child is peeing less than normal
  • Ear pain.
  • A blue tint to skin around lips and nostrils.
Home remedies for nasal congestion

Taking proper care at home can help your baby to recover fast from nasal congestion. Below are some home remedies and foods that can help your baby.

Plenty of fluid:

Keep your child hydrated, this will help in thinning the mucus clogged in their nasal passage. If the baby is under 6 months, feed more breastmilk or formula milk and if the child is above 6 month you can offer warm water or other fluids. Give a small amount of fluid at a time but multiple times in a day. Apart from this you can also offer hot homemade soups, which are full of essential vitamins and minerals and are easy to digest. Avoid drinks with caffeine, including colas and tea, because they can make dehydration worse by increasing urination.

Saline solution:

This is the most important home remedy for a stuffy nose. Mix a teaspoon of table salt in warm water and pour the solution into your kid’s nostrils with the help of a dropper. This will directly impact the thinning of the mucus.

Warm  compress:

Warm compress is one of the traditional and proven remedies to open up the nasal passage. Soak a soft washcloth in the warm water, squeeze it well. Now place this over the nose. This will help your child in passing the mucus and eases the clogged nose. Repeat this in a regular interval.


If your child has nasal congestion then giving them steam is the best thing to do. For small kids who can’t inhale steam themselves, turn on the shower up to its hottest setting and close the door and let the steam build up. Turn off the shower once the bathroom is full of steam, now sit there with your baby for sometime. Your baby will automatically inhale the steam. This will help in thinning of mucus and give your baby relief from nasal congestion.

Sleeping Position:

Keep your child’s head in an elevated position to give some relief from cough and blocked nose that perpetuates through the night. (How is sleep and brain development related?)


Due to its antibacterial and anti-viral properties turmeric is one of the best foods for cold and flu season, known to treat viral infections. Adding turmeric powder to a glass of warm milk can offer relief in the aching throat and runny nose.


Ginger roots have been used for centuries for health benefits in Asian cultures. Research shows that ginger has medicinal properties, both antiviral and antibacterial, that could help ease the symptoms of stuffy nose or sore throat. Take out some ginger juice by grating it and mix it with some honey. Give this mixture to your child above 1 year twice a day for quick relief (What are other Ayurvedic herbs that are good for kids?)


• Heat mustard oil and roast garlic and carom seeds in it. Once cool, apply this oil on the baby’s head, palm, feet base, chest and back. Leave it applied and let the child sleep. It will help settle the cold and cough both. Also, any body ache the child has will be resolved. Mustard oil is a very effective cough and cold home remedy.

• Take1 to 2 tbs of lukewarm mustard oil and mix half a teaspoon of rock salt. Then, massage this oil gently on the baby’s chest and back, cover with cotton cloth. The warmth of mustard oil helps in relieving congestion.

Prevention is better than cure

Do your child often fall sick with fever, cold and cough? The food we eat plays a key role in determining the overall health and immunity. It gives the body a condition of being able to resist a particular disease. By adding foods, like Nuts, Seeds, Ayurvedic herbs like Tulsi, Giloy, Turmeric, Amla, Ashwagandha and Antioxidants like Cocoa and Vitamin E to your kid’s diet you can prevent them from falling sick again and again by boosting their immunity.


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