Your baby needs to breathe comfortably through her nose or she will be unable to feed or sleep properly. If she has a cold, or nasal mucus dries and forms a plug, you need to clean it. Here's how.
Get the timing right
"The best time is before she feeds, to make eating or sucking easier; if you do it straight after a feed, she may vomit," says Dr Mgcini Thwala, a paediatrician at Life Roseacres Hospital in Germiston.
If the mucus is thick or has hardened, a few saline drops will thin and soften it. "You can get this from your pharmacy, or make your own by dissolving half a teaspoon of salt (iodine-free) in a cup of boiling water," says Dr Thwala. Leave it in a clean container to cool.
Lie baby on her back on a changing mat or a bed, or cradle her in your lap, arms pinned gently to her sides, chin tilted up. Apply the saline with a dropper (also from your pharmacy) and wait a while for it to take effect. Then clean out baby's nose. Make a fresh batch each time and don't use it for more than four days in a row or baby's nose may become dry.
Use the right tools
A basic bulb syringe is usually all you need. Squeeze out the air from the bulb, then insert the tip carefully in one nostril, and release the bulb so it vacuums out the mucus. Expel the mucus into a tissue by squeezing the bulb hard. Repeat for the other nostril.
"Wash out the syringe thoroughly, filling it with soapy water then squeezing it out, and finishing with clear water. Replace the syringe every month or so," says Dr Thwala, "depending how often it’s used."
You can also try one of the many nasal aspirators now available, with a long tube and a mouthpiece, or a battery-operated aspirator that relieves you of doing the sucking. Insert the nozzle in your baby's nostril, and use the mouthpiece to gently suction out the mucus – a filter in the tube stops this or any bacteria reaching your mouth.
Again, take the device apart after each use, wash it in soapy water and leave it to air dry before putting it away.
IMAGE CREDIT: 123rf.com