Suctioning the Nose with a Bulb Syringe :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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Suctioning the Nose with a Bulb Syringe

Suctioning mucus out of your baby's nose makes it easier for him or her to breathe and to eat. Before suctioning, you may thin the mucus with normal saline (salt-water) nose drops.

You Will Need

  • Respiratory saline (as prescribed) or saline nose drops
    Picture 1 - Put saline nose drops in your baby's nose.
    Image of nose drops
  • Bulb syringe
  • Soft tissues
  • A soft blanket (rolled up) - optional

To make saline nose drops at home you will need:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • Kitchen measuring spoon
  • Table salt
  • Clean jar with cover
  • Nose dropper

How to Make Saline Nose Drops

  1. Fill a jar with 1 cup warm (not hot) tap water.
  2. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  3. Stir to dissolve the salt.
  4. Make new solution each time. Throw away unused solution.

How to Put Nose Drops into the Child's Nose

  1. Lay your baby on his back. You may want to place a rolled-up blanket under the baby's shoulders (Picture 1).
  2. Using a nose dropper, put the number of drops prescribed by your doctor (usually 2 to 3 drops) into each nostril. The nose drops may make the baby sneeze.
  3. After giving the nose drops, pick up your baby. Hold your baby in your arms with his head back for about a minute. This will give the saline enough time to thin the mucus. Then suction with the bulb syringe.
  4. Do not use any other type of medicine nose drops unless prescribed by your doctor.
  5. You may use saline nose drops purchased from the store.

How to Suction

Suction your baby before feeding. By cleaning out the baby's nose before feeding, he or she will be able to suck and eat more easily. (If you suction after the baby has been fed, the combination of saline and suctioning may cause vomiting.)

  1. To use the bulbsyringe, squeeze the air out of the bulb.
    1 - To use the bulb syringe, squeeze the air out of the bulb.
    Image of squeezing air out of bulb
  2. Gently place the tip of the bulb into a nostril.
    2 - Gently place the tip of the bulb into a nostril.
    Image of bulb in nose
  3. Let the air come back into the bulb. The suction will pull the mucus out of the nose and into the bulb.
    3 - Let the air come back into the bulb. The suction will pull the mucus out of the nose and into the bulb.
    Image of letting air in bulb
  4. Squeeze the mucus out of the bulb and onto a tissue.
    4 - Squeeze the mucus out of the bulb and into a tissue.
    Image of squeezing mucus out
  5. Suction the other nostril the same way.
  6. Gently wipe off the mucus around the baby's nose with tissues to prevent skin irritation.
  7. Limit suctioning to four times a day to avoid irritating the lining of the nose.

After Suctioning

Wash the jar, dropper, and bulb syringe in warm, soapy water after each use. Squeeze the bulb several times in the soapy water to clean out the mucus, shaking it inside the bulb before squeezing it out. Rinse with clear water by repeating the same process several times.

If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor or nurse.

Suctioning the Nose with a Bulb Syringe (PDF)

HH-II-24 4/78, Revised 6/10 Copyright 1978-2010, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

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