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Nasal Aspirator for Baby: Guidelines and Safety Tips for Parents

Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS · Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Oct 18, 2021

Nasal Aspirator for Baby: Guidelines and Safety Tips for Parents

Nasal congestion in babies happens due to a variety of reasons. For instance, mild congestion may be usual in newborn babies in the first few days of their life, but it could also be a sign of airway obstruction. Infants who experience regurgitation may have irritated nasopharyngeal tissues that could lead to breathing problems. And, of course, we have allergic reactions or respiratory infections that trigger excessive nasal discharge. This is where we typically need a nasal aspirator for baby.

What is a Nasal Aspirator?

A nasal aspirator is a device that suctions mucus out of your baby’s nose. These devices come in handy when your baby suffers from stuffy nose and finds it hard to breathe.

Currently, you’ll find that there are numerous baby nasal aspirator types. Generally, we have the traditional bulb syringe, the manual nasal aspirator, and the automatic kind.

While each type has different sets of instructions, they still share some guidelines, including:

  • Time and Frequency: It would be best to use a baby nasal aspirator before feeding sessions; a clear nose allows them to eat more easily. But, you cannot use an aspirator as many times as you want because it increases the risk of irritation.
  • Use of nasal saline drops: If your baby has a runny nose with loose discharge, you may not need saline drops; but if they have thick and sticky mucus, it’s a good idea to soften the discharge first with drops before
  • Cleanliness. A nasal baby aspirator should be washed before and after use to reduce pathogen spread. How you clean them, of course, varies depending on the type.

How to Use a Bulb Syringe

This nasal aspirator for the baby doesn’t have any accessories other than the bulb itself. Before starting, prepare the saline drops (if needed) and some tissues.

  • Lay your baby down on their back.
  • Squeeze the bulb to release air; keep the bulb pressed.
  • Place the tip in your baby’s nostril, but don’t push it too far.
  • Gently release the bulb; this creates a suction that pulls the mucus out of your baby’s nose.
  • Squeeze the mucus into the tissue.
  • Suction the baby’s other nostril, and then squeeze the mucus into the tissue.
  • Wipe the baby’s nose with a tissue to avoid irritation.
  • Limit suctioning to 3 times a day.

nasal aspirator for baby

After suctioning, clean the syringe with warm, soapy water by squeezing it several times. Pull water inside and shake the aspirator, too, before squeezing the water out. Afterward, rinse with clean water before air-drying it. Please keep in mind that bulb syringes are prone to wear-and-tear, so you might have to change it a couple of times. The good news is, bulbs are typically inexpensive.

How to Use a Manual Nasal Aspirator for Baby

A manual nasal aspirator for baby typically comes with a tube: one end has a mouthpiece where you manually apply suction with your mouth, and the other end has a syringe that pulls the mucus out of your baby’s nose.

Don’t worry about getting the mucus in your mouth; manual nasal aspirators usually come with disposable filters, which you place at the end of the syringe.

  • Assemble the manual nasal aspirator for baby as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t forget to place the filter.
  • Lay your baby down on their back.
  • Use nasal saline drops if needed.
  • Place the nozzle of the syringe just outside the baby’s nostril. Don’t put it inside; just close enough to seal the nostril.
  • With the mouthpiece, gently apply suction to pull the mucus out.
  • Repeat on the other nostril.
  • Wipe your baby’s nose.
  • Limit use to 3 to 4 times a day.

Throw away the filter properly; always use a new filter. Disassemble the parts of the manual nasal aspirator for baby and wash according to instructions (usually with warm, soapy water). Air-dry them completely.

nasal aspirator for baby

How to Use an Automatic Nasal Aspirator

The instructions in using an automatic nasal aspirator for baby depend on the brand. It generally works like a bulb syringe – the only difference is you don’t need to apply suction manually. You just press the button and let it work for a couple of seconds.

Many automatic nasal aspirators come with two detachable tips. The larger one is for thick mucus, and the smaller one is for loose discharge. As always, limit use to 3 to 4 times daily to prevent irritation.

Care instructions also differ since they are usually battery-operated. Usually, you need to take the device apart and clean the detachable parts with soapy water.

Final Reminders

A nasal aspirator for baby helps them breathe more easily in times when they experience a stuffy nose. In case your baby continues to have feeding and breathing problems, bring them to the doctor for proper assessment.

Learn more about Baby Care here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS

Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Oct 18, 2021

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