How To Help A Congested Baby Sleep


Congestion in babies can be a difficult and frustrating experience for both parents and the baby. It is important to understand the common misconceptions about comfort, as well as the correct information that will ensure your baby gets the rest they need. For example, many people believe that a baby's head being elevated while sleeping has no effect for congestion, but it's definitely more complicated than that. Instead, it is important to understand why certain techniques are effective in helping a congested baby sleep and how to properly use them. Read on to learn more about how you can help your congested baby get the restful sleep they need!


Helping a congested baby sleep can be a challenge, but there are simple steps parents can take to make it easier.

  • Run a humidifier in the baby's room.
  • Keep the baby upright for at least 30 minutes after feeding.
  • Use saline drops and suction to clear the baby's nose.

By following these steps, parents can help their congested baby get the restful sleep they need!

Why is it difficult for congested babies to sleep?

Are there reasons other than discomfort?

Is it difficult to figure out how to help congested baby sleep?

Congestion makes it difficult for babies to sleep for much the same reasons as it affects adult sleep habits. When a baby lays down, the congestion builds up in the baby’s head and sinuses, and this causes pain and discomfort.

Additionally, babies who are very young are not yet able to clear their own nasal and sinuses passages. Babies can’t sniffle or blow their noses, so they can’t do anything about nasal congestion building up throughout the night. This also makes them feel even more uncomfortable and can be scary to them too.

It isn’t hard to figure out the best solutions for helping a congested baby sleep, but it might take some time to find the right solution for your child. Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent pieces of advice out there that come from experienced parents and baby health experts alike.

In the article below, we’ll show you a quick list of some of the most common and tried-and-true methods of helping a baby sleep when congested. You can check out this list and see which method might work best for your baby, and you can try these options too.

Read on to learn more about how to help a congested baby sleep.

Congested Babies and Sleeping

In this section, we’ll discuss more information about congested babies and sleeping. You can use these tips to figure out what might work for your baby. Remember that most of these tips have been tried and true by parents as well as baby experts for years, and they are all safe as long as you follow the recommended usage for them.

Option #1

Use saline solution.

Saline solution comes in a dropper style bottle and can be purchased over the counter at most drug stores. This offer is simply salt water, and it is safe for use on babies. You may be able to make your own at home, but you should consult with your pediatrician to find out the right proportions of salt and water before doing this.

  • Saline solution is intended to be dropped into the baby’s nose to help break up the congestion. From there, you can remove the nasal congestion yourself in babies who are too young to clear their own nasal passages.

Option #2

Try vapor rub.

You can find a wide variety of vapor rub options in drug stores, but you should stick with those that are marketed specifically for babies. ***WARNING*** Always talk to your pediatrician before using a vapor rub on your child, as your baby may not yet be old enough for this offer.

  • Rub the vapor rub onto your baby’s stomach instead of on their chest. This will provide the benefits without overwhelming your baby with the smell. You may also choose to rub the vapor rub onto your own chest and then hold your baby, which can provide the same results.

Option #3

Use a nasal aspirator.

This item looks like a plastic bulb and is usually found in baby medical aisles in drugs stores and supermarkets, although it can be found in other places as well. This choice has a large round end as well as a small tube-like point on the other end.

  • These aspirators can be used on their own, but it works much better to use them in conjunction with a saline solution or with other methods listed here. This way, you can break up the nasal congestion and then use the nasal aspirator to remove it from your baby’s nose and nasal passageways.

Option #4

Steam the bathroom with a hot shower.

This method works well for very congested babies who need some relief from the pressure buildup related to their congestion. Remember, however, that you should never under any circumstances put your baby in the hot shower. This method is only intended to steam the room.

  • Turn on the shower as hot as it will go and close the door for a few minutes. Either undress your baby or dress them in very light clothing so they won’t overheat, then carry the baby into the bathroom. Hold your baby for several minutes in the steamy bathroom, making sure your child cannot access the hot water.

Option #5

Use a humidifier or an air purifier.

  • You might see some good results from using a humidifier or an air purifier for your congested baby. You can find these items in a variety of stores and online, and you might need to shop around to find one that suits your needs the best.
  • Never place a humidifier or air purifier within your baby’s reach, and always keep the cords away from your child’s crib. Otherwise, run the machine according to the directions that come with this choice you choose. Only use distilled water in these choices, as regular tap water is unsafe.

Option #6

Don’t neglect mealtimes and playtime.

Your baby may need assistance at these points too.

  • Congestion is uncomfortable and painful at bedtime, but it can also make feeding and playtime unpleasant for babies as well. Babies cannot nurse or drink from a bottle easily when they have congestion and may not want to eat because of this. Additionally, babies may be uncomfortable playing or having tummy time while they are congested.
  • The methods listed above can work well when used before mealtimes or playtime as well. All of these methods are safe for use on babies at any time of the day or night, although you will need to wipe off the vapor rub after you’ve let it do its job.


There may be a lot to learn and remember when it comes to congestion in babies, but it’s not too hard to get the information you need. There are plenty of parenting web sites, books, and forums out there that may provide even more suggestions than those listed above, and you can always reach out to these kinds of parenting groups and resources for more information. You can even use these kinds of resources to simply vent a little bit after those long sleepless nights while your baby is dealing with congestion.

Just remember, as with any advice provided through this article or any other source, that you should always double-check with your child’s pediatrician before using any treatments for your baby. Your pediatrician knows your child better than anyone online or in a book, and should always be the first resource you trust when looking for medical help for your baby.

Additionally, be sure to ask your pediatrician before using any kind of medication for your baby. Babies should never be given cough medication and should only be given baby-safe medicines under the express direction of a doctor. Keep this in mind and you’re sure to give your baby the best care you can!

By following the tips listed here, you can help your baby feel better when they are congested. Congestion is difficult for babies to deal with, but it’s not impossible for you to help with. Take your time learning the best ways to ensure your child’s congestion can ease up as quickly as possible.

5 Tips to Help a Congested Baby Sleep

  1. Using a humidifier in the baby's room can help reduce congestion and make it easier for them to breathe.
  2. Elevating the head of the baby's crib can help reduce congestion and make it easier for them to sleep.
  3. Giving your baby a warm bath before bedtime can help loosen up their chest and nasal passages, making it easier for them to sleep.
  4. Using saline drops or a nasal aspirator can help clear out any mucus that is blocking their airways.
  5. Making sure the room temperature is comfortable for your baby will also help them sleep better as they won't be too hot or too cold.

ALSO: If your baby has severe congestion, consult with your pediatrician about other treatments that may be available.

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About The Author

Laticia J. Ferraro works at BabyNeedsRest as Editor-In-Chief, specializing in content related to infant care, parenting and baby sleep research. She has been fascinated with baby sleeping research for as long as she can remember and has a great deal of enthusiasm and passion for the topic. Laticia has previously worked as a research assistant, an editing assistant, and a ghost writer for various other publications online. She is presently working on BabyNeedsRest on a regular basis, as well as on her own parenting article content across the web.

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