When you get your baby home, you can feel the weight of being in charge of a tiny human. It’s natural to then worry about every snuffle, sneeze, and hiccup sound they make. But be reassured that newborn sneezing is common, and normal in young babies.
In this article: 📝
- Is it normal for a newborn to sneeze?
- Should I worry about my newborn’s stuffy nose?
- Can I help with my baby’s stuffy nose?
- How do I know if my newborn has a cold?
Is it normal for a newborn to sneeze?
Yes, it’s totally normal for your newborn baby to sneeze. Sneezing is a natural defence against germs, and allows babies to clear stuff from their nose. Sneezing doesn’t always mean your baby has a cold, although if they’re sneezing a lot, it’s understandable if you worry that there might be something else going on.
Should I worry about my newborn’s stuffy nose?
When babies first arrive in the world, they often have some amniotic fluid in their nasal passages, and sneezing helps to clear it out. Similarly, as they adjust to the outside world, milk saliva, and specks of dust can end up in the nose as they don’t swallow everything. So, instead, they might spit it up or sneeze it out. Hence the stuffy nose.
And, did you know that babies are mostly nose breathers when they’re newborn? They actually have a different breathing pattern to us, so sneezing is a natural reflex that happens to help them clear their nose so they can breathe. Babies are born with this reflex, a bit like the startle reflex, or the “rooting” reflex when they are hungry.
Baby sneezing can also be triggered by dry air when they’re just hanging out with you. Or, if they are breastfed, sometimes one nostril can be pushed shut against their mama as they feed and they need to sneeze to open it up again.
Newborns do have tiny noses as well, which means it’s easy for tiny particles to clog the passages and they need to be expelled eventually. As babies don’t know how to snort or sniff yet, these particles need to be sneezed out!
As they start growing and learn to breathe more through their mouth, those little baby sneezes are likely to happen less often.
Can I help with my baby’s stuffy nose?
If your baby is breathing ok and doesn’t appear to be distressed, then it’s best to leave your baby’s nose alone. Their sneezes are nature’s way of helping the air to keep moving and having a stuffy nose is common in newborns.
If you do want to help you baby clear their nose though, here are some simple tips:
- Avoid irritants like dust, perfumes, hair spray, and cigarette smoke
- You can use a humidifier to moisten the air, also when they’re sleeping
- Saline drops can help loosen the mucus in your baby’s nose
- If there seems to be a lot of mucus then try gently sucking it out with a bulb syringe or nasal aspirator. You just might need to be careful when using an aspirator, as too much use can irritate your baby’s nose.
How do I know if my newborn has a cold?
Sneezing isn’t usually a sign that your baby has a cold, but if you’re worried and thinking that your newborn baby is sneezing a lot, there are things that you can look out for to help you decide when to contact a medical professional. These signs are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Eating less than usual
- Is more sleepy than normal for them, or less energetic
- If their temperature is 38°C or 100.4°F or higher
- Congestion (although it’s worth keeping an eye out for signs that your baby’s congestion could be something else)
When there are no other signs that your baby is poorly, then sneezing isn’t usually something for you to worry about. Instead you can enjoy the cuteness of their little snuffles, as well as their surprised faces when they catch a sneeze.
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