How To Treat A Toddler With Stuffy Nose: Remedies, Warnings & More

  • Learn how to spot the signs of a stuffy nose in toddlers 
  • Understand the 5 possible causes of a stuffy nose in toddlers 
  • Plus, the different ways you can treat a toddler’s stuffy nose 
  • Also, know when it’s time to take your child to see a doctor

Having a toddler suffering from a stuffy nose is something most parents are always worried about. While this is very common, it can cause a lot of discomfort to the little one, and anxiety to the parents or caregivers.

If you are looking for ways to treat the stuffy nose problem in a toddler, this information may help. We talk about some of the signs of a stuffy nose in a toddler in the earliest stage, what could cause the same and how to treat it differently if it is due to different reasons. We also talk about whether or not it is alright to give medications for a stuffy nose and when you should definitely take the little one to the doctor.

What are the signs that indicate your toddler has a stuffy nose?

Here are some of the earliest signs of a stuffy nose that you may spot in your toddler:

1. Sneezing too much

  • Your toddler may be sneezing more than he or she normally does.
  • This is one of the most common symptoms of a cold in a toddler. However, if this carries on for too long, or if you do not really see any other signs of a cold or cough, it could be because of a stuffy nose.

2. The mouth is always open while sleeping

  • If your toddler has a stuffy nose, he or she will have trouble breathing through the nose.
  • As a result, when they are sleeping, you will notice that they do so with their mouths open. You may also notice the same when they are awake, and seem to be breathing through their mouth.
4 year old stuffy nose at night

3. Dry cough for a long time

  • In case a toddler has a stuffy nose, it is possible that they may develop a dry cough that carries on for a long time.
  • If the coughing is because of an allergy, such as a stuffy nose, you will not see any phlegm or mucus from your toddler’s nose or mouth, but will notice more of a dry sound while he or she is coughing.

4. Toddler seems to have a cold for long

  • A persistent cold in a toddler can be a sign for a stuffy nose.
  • Usually, when toddlers have a cold, it gets better in about a week or 10 days. But if this is due to a stuffy nose, it could last longer, and that is when you may realize this is more than just a cold.
congested toddler can't sleep

5. Feeding times are difficult

  • When toddlers have a stuffy nose, they often end up breathing through their mouths instead of through their noses as in a normal situation.
  • As a result, it becomes very difficult for them to be able to eat properly, because they find it difficult to do both eating and breathing through the mouth at the same time. Also, having a stuffy nose can make your toddler cranky and uncomfortable, and they may not feel like eating.

What could a stuffy nose in a toddler mean?

Different babies and toddlers may get a stuffy nose due to different reasons, and here are the top 5 reasons for the same.

how to stop a child's runny nose

5 possible causes of a stuffy nose in a toddler

  • 1
    Your toddler is not able to blow his or her nose: As simple as this may sound, often toddlers suffer from a stuffy nose because they are not able to blow their nose at the earliest signs of a cold. As a result, the cold starts to build up and leads to mucus formation, which then ends up making the nose and the airway all stuffy.
  • 2
    Could be an allergic reaction: It is also possible that the toddler is suffering from a stuffy nose as a result of some type of a nasal allergy. This is very common in toddlers. A lot of things can trigger off such allergies, such as pollen, dust mites, perfume, bed sheets, a pet in the house and so on.
  • 3
    Infection in the upper respiratory tract: Toddlers who start interacting with other toddlers, especially at day care or playschools often come back with germs and viruses that could lead to an infection in the upper respiratory tract.
  • 4
    Chronic ear problems: Those toddlers who always have some or the other infection in the ear are often at a higher risk of developing a stuffy nose as well. If the toddler has an inflammation in the ear it can also eventually spread to the inner mucosal lining of the nose, and cause a stuffy nose problem.
  • 5
    Environmental reasons: If you live in a place that is dry, it could cause chronic stuffy nose in the toddler. Also, if a toddler sleeps in a spot where the air from the AC vent comes directly on the toddler, that could also lead to a stuffy nose. Being exposed to any type of second-hand smoke can also cause stuffy nose in the toddler.

How do you treat a toddler with a stuffy nose?

The way you treat a toddler for stuffy nose will depend on the cause behind it.

Q: Should you give medication?

toddler nasal congestion

Before giving any medication, you need to first get your toddler examined by a doctor, and only use a medicine that is prescribed by the doctor. However, you may give an over the counter saline drop to ease some of the mucus and clear the airways.

Q: Are there alternatives that are better for the child?

Letting your toddler sleep, keeping him or her hydrated, practicing hygiene and giving warm foods may help.

Q: Does this depend entirely on what’s causing the stuffy nose?

The treatment may vary depending on whether it’s due to a cold, due to allergies or some other reason.

What is the best remedy for congestion caused by...

1. A Cold or Flu?

  • Let your toddler have a warm bowl of chicken and vegetable soup.
  • The warm soup will help fight inflammation and the steam from the soup will also act as a natural vapourizer.
  • This can help to loosen up any mucus that is accumulated in the nasal passage.

2. Allergies

  • In case of allergies, the doctor may prescribe medication to first control the symptoms.
  • They may then try and find out the root cause of the allergies and see if any other treatment is needed.
toddler stuffy nose can't sleep

3. A sinus infection

  • If you know the stuffy nose is due to a sinus infection, it is best to consult a doctor, as they may prescribe an oral antibiotic if this is due to bacteria.
  • At home, you may also give your toddler a saline solution.
  • This will help to clear out the mucus and relieve the stuffy nose problem and some other symptoms associated with viral or bacterial infection.

When should you take your toddler to a doctor?

In case you notice any of the following, it may be a good idea to take the toddler to your family doctor:

how to stop a toddler runny nose
  • Your toddler is having a lot of trouble breathing and is gasping for air.
  • Has started to choke or cough a lot after eating.
  • There is a lot of coughing and as a result the skin starts to change colour, or turns purplish or bluish.
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    The toddler seems to be out of breath.
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    Is not able to talk properly or breathe properly.

If you see any of the above, or if things are looking quite serious, it's always best to be on the safe side... don’t delay and get to a doctor immediately.

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