Baby Congestion: Decoding Baby's Snot!

Sick Baby Blowing Nose.jpg

No parent wants to wake up to a stuffy, uncomfortable baby, but it happens more often than a lot of parents care to admit. Whether it’s a cold, allergies, or an entirely different cause, baby congestion can make both you and your baby miserable. 

Newborn Congestion

Any parent with a baby under three months of age should be wary of newborn congestion. A stuffy nose or cold in a newborn can take a turn for the worse due to their weak immune systems. If your newborn is experiencing a stuffy or runny nose, make an appointment with your pediatrician.

Infant Congestion

In infants over three months of age, a stuffy and runny nose is not as major an issue. It’s easy for little noses to become congested because there isn’t much space. There are over 200 different cold viruses, and your baby doesn’t have any immunity to them until they pick them up. The average adult has between two and four colds a year. Just imagine how many of those your sensitive baby can develop! A runny nose doesn’t always mean a cold, however. In the winter, your baby’s nose tries to protect itself when you go out into the cold air. It creates more mucus to keep their nose moist and clear of particles.

Discovering that the snot coming out of your baby’s nose is a rainbow of colors can cause a lot of nervousness. Should you call the pediatrician? Should you take them to the ER? Before you make any decisions, find out what the color of your baby’s mucus truly means.

Baby Mucus Colors

Clear Baby Snot 

Clear is the most common type of snot and should not be any cause for alarm. This typical snot color could simply be your baby’s natural way of removing particles from their nose and keeping them out of their lungs. Clear snot can also be a sign of allergies, a reaction to cold or dry air, or the first signs of a cold.

White Baby Snot 

Snot that has a white color is more common in babies over the age of one. The white color is caused by dairy consumption and is nothing to worry about. Milk makes mucus thicker, and babies and toddlers tend to consume a lot of dairy. As babies get older and turn into kids, white mucus can be a sign of dehydration.

Light Yellow Baby Snot 

Snot can turn yellow when it has been sitting in your baby’s nose or sinuses for a while. At first, this is nothing to be concerned about. It does not mean that your baby currently has a sinus infection. Snot can also turn yellow as a cold progresses into the thick snot phase. If your baby has yellow-colored snot for more than two weeks, consider making an appointment with your pediatrician to prevent a sinus infection from developing.

Bright Yellow Baby Snot

If your baby’s light yellow snot turns to a neon or bright yellow color, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician. This color may be a sign that your infant has already developed a sinus infection.

Green Baby Snot

Your baby’s snot can turn green as a cold progresses, just like it can turn yellow. Green snot can also occur at the end of a sinus infection. If you see green snot in the mornings when your baby wakes up, there isn’t any need for worry. As you baby sleeps, bacteria collect in the mucus and turns the snot a green color. However, if your baby has green snot all day for several days, you should schedule an appointment with your pediatrician to have your infant examined for a sinus or other infection.

Orange, Red, or Brown Baby Snot

Colors ranging from bright red to orange and brown are all indicators that there is blood in your baby’s snot. Brown colors mean that older, dry blood is coming out of your baby’s nose. Brighter red colors are signs of new blood. Everyone’s nose, including an infant’s, can bleed without any major reason. In the winter or dry weather, it is very easy for nasal passages to crack and bleed. There is no need to be concerned unless your baby has blood in their snot for several consecutive days. If that happens, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician. 

Black or Gray Baby Snot

Snot tinged with black or gray is a sign that your baby has been around air pollution of some kind. Things like campfires, smoke, dust, dirt and other particles can get caught in your baby’s snot. Even though your baby shouldn’t be around health hazards, this colored snot is a good thing! That is what snot is made to do. Your baby’s body works to prevent unhealthy particles from getting into their little lungs and causing problems. 

Snot Suckers

Sometimes, your little guy or gal gets so plugged up that they need a little help. Say hello to a baby snot sucker! Or, more specifically, a baby nasal aspirator. You may have seen these little, pointed plastic bulbs at the hospital when your baby was born. These baby nose suckers are a safe and natural way to remove all of the excess snot from your baby’s nose.

Steps to Suctioning Your Baby’s Nose

  • Squeeze the bulb before inserting it into your baby’s nose to get rid of the air.

  • Insert the tip of the bulb one-fourth to one-half inch into your baby’s nostril.

  • Point the bulb tip toward the back of your baby’s nose.

  • Let go of the compressed bulb slowly to suck up the snot.

  • Remove the bulb from your baby’s nose and turn it so it’s pointing towards the floor.

  • Squeeze the bulb with some force into a Kleenex to get rid of the mucus.

  • Make sure to clean your baby’s nose sucker after each use with soap and water to prevent mold buildup.

Concerning Baby Congestion Symptoms

If your baby is congested and exhibits any of the below symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • Your baby is younger than three months old

  • Your baby isn’t having as many wet diapers as usual

  • Your baby has a temperature of 100 degrees for more than three days

  • Your baby is experiencing ear or sinus pain

  • There is yellow eye discharge

  • There is a cough that lasts for more than one week

  • Your baby has green snot for more than two weeks

Go to the emergency room if your baby:

  • Will not drink fluids

  • Has a cough that causes vomiting or skin changes

  • Coughs up blood

  • Has problems breathing or is turning blue around the lips or mouth

It’s always better to be safe when it comes to your baby’s health. If your baby is experiencing any symptoms that worry or concern you, always feel free to call your pediatrician.