Saline Nasal Drops for Babies – Benefits and Side-Effects

Saline Nasal Drops for Infants – Benefits and Side-Effects

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Arti Sharma (Paediatrician)
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When you have a blocked nose due to cold, the act of breathing is what requires the most effort. Even as adults, a blocked nose causes discomfort and irritation since it takes away the ease of breathing. In babies, this can cause a lot of trouble as your baby may cry or cough in order to breathe better. Clearing a blocked nose is extremely important in babies, and nasal drops are your best bet in that regard. However, nasal drops for babies need to be administered with certain precautions in mind. Here is everything you need to know about safely giving your baby nasal drops to deal with a blocked nose.

What Are Nasal Saline Drops?

Saline drops that are made for the nose are nothing but a proper mixture of water and salt. Putting a few drops of this solution in your baby’s nose can help clear up any blockage. For babies suffering from cold, the mucus will clear the nose and allow the baby to breathe normally. This works on kids as well.

How to Give Saline Nasal Drops to Babies?

Administering nasal drops to young babies can be achieved through the following steps:

Nasal Drops for babies

  • Wash your hands clean using soap and water.
  • Use a syringe or a dropper and pull in the dosage as recommended.
  • Hold the dropper in your dominant hand and use the other arm to hold your baby.
  • If a lot of mucus is present on the outside, clear it out first using a small suction bulb.
  • Do not insert the dropper in your baby’s nose. Place it just outside the nasal cavity and squeeze it.
  • Keep some more solution nearby in case the dropper gets used up in one nostril.
  • Continue holding your baby as is so that the solution has time to travel down the blocked track.
  • Sometimes the solution can reach the throat and cause your baby to cough. Hold him up in a sitting position when this happens.

What Is The Recommended Amount Of Nasal Saline Drops For Babies?

Start with putting just a drop or two in your baby’s nose and observe the results. If all seems okay, you can administer nasal drops upto twice a day, using 1-2 drops per nostril. Avoid giving more than this amount as it can irritate the nasal passages and worsen your baby’s condition.

Benefits of Baby Saline Drops/Sprays

Using saline drops or nasal sprays to relieve blocked nostrils is an effective technique, because:

  • They do not contain any medicinal substances that can affect the baby adversely.
  • They provide almost instant relief.
  • They can be used by kids and adults alike.
  • They are quite cheap and easily available in medical stores without a prescription.

Side-Effects of Using Saline Nasal Drops/Sprays for Babies

As simple as it might seem, if the right precautions are not taken, administration of nasal drops could result in a few problems that may not be suitable for your baby.

  • Failing to observe basic hygiene such as cleaning your hands properly could cause germs from your hands to enter the child, infecting him further.
  • Sharing the same dropper amongst several people without sterilising it first is an open invitation for various diseases.
  • At times, the nose could get even runnier and cause multiple sneezing bouts. Your baby might also have a dry nose instead of a runny nose and have breathing trouble, nausea, sweating, or swelling along with fussy behaviour. Contact the doctor right away in such cases.
  • For long-lasting effects, you have to give nasal drops repeatedly 2-3 times a day till the blockage is completely gone; any more than 3 times a day can make her nose sore.

Precautions to Consider While Giving Saline Drops

When it comes to nasal drops for infants, there are certain precautions you need to keep in mind for your little one’s health and well-being. Read the below points before you administer nasal drops to your baby.

  • Wait for 15-20 minutes after administering nasal drops to feed your child. This will prevent gagging or vomiting during the feed. Never administer nasal drops immediately after feeding your baby.
  • Sterilise the bulb, dropper, and any other equipment after every use to prevent accumulation of bacteria.
  • Do not give your baby nasal drops more than two times a day as it will cause irritation in the nasal walls.
  • If the doctor has prescribed a certain type, frequency, or amount of nasal drops, make sure you stick to it.
  • Do not switch droppers between household members or other babies.
  • Do not insert the dropper too far up your baby’s nose. Aim it towards the cheek, rather than the septum.
  • Do not use nasal drops with any other medication unless prescribed otherwise by a doctor.

How to Make Saline Nose Drops for Your Child at Home?

Homemade saline drops for infants are not at all difficult to make and can be quickly prepared to remedy a blocked nose.

How to Make Saline Nose Drops for Your Child at Home?

What You Will Need

  • Tap water or distilled water
  • A measuring cap
  • A pan
  • Spoons to measure
  • Non-iodised salt
  • Baking soda
  • Dropper

How to Make

  1. Pour the water into the saucepan. Place it on a flame and let it boil for about 10 minutes. This takes care of any bacteria present in it.
  2. To make the solution, mix 3 teaspoons of non-iodised salt and one teaspoon of baking soda. Store it in a small, clean jar. When you are ready to use it, mix a teaspoon of the mixture into 8 ounces of previously boiled and cooled water.
  3. After stirring them in and ensuring that they have dissolved completely, take as much solution as required and keep the rest in a clean bowl for no more than 24 hours.
  4. Use a dropper to take a small amount of solution while it is warm. Make sure it isn’t too hot or cold but close to body temperature.
  5. Add a couple of drops each in your baby’s nose. Wait for half a minute before you start cleaning the liquefied mucus that comes out.


1. Is It Safe to Give Saline Nose Drops to a Sleeping Baby?

No, it’s best that your baby is awake during this time to prevent any mishap. You can administer nasal drops to him before bedtime as he will get some relief and rest properly.

2. What Are Some Other Ways to Clear Mucus From an Infant Blocked Nose?

One way to relief nasal blockage when your child is asleep is to place a humidifier in his room. You can also gently massage the area around his nose to loosen mucous. 

3. Can I Give Nasal Drops to a Baby After Feeding?

Do not administer nasal drops after a feed. Instead, put nasal drops 15-20 minutes before a feed or before your child goes to bed to relieve congestion.

A blocked nose is nothing more than a small hindrance that causes irritation. Medication is the last resort that is rarely recommended by doctors. Nasal drops are quick and effective and can relieve your baby from the trouble, bringing him back to the playful mood he loves to be in!


1. How To Help Your Baby or Toddler Clear Their Stuffy Nose; Cleveland Clinic;; December 2022

2. Common cold in babies; Mayo Clinic;; June 2021

3. Chirico. G, Quartarone. G, Mallefet. P; Nasal congestion in infants and children: a literature review on efficacy and safety of non-pharmacological treatments; PubMed;; December 2014

4. Children and Colds; American Academy of Pediatrics;; March 2022

5. Caring for Your Child’s Cold or Flu; American Academy of Pediatrics;; January 2023

Also Read:

Nasal Congestion in Babies
How to Clean Your Baby’s Nose?
Home Remedies for Stuff Nose in Infants

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