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. Suction your baby before feeding. Cleaning out the baby's nose before feeding will help him to suck and eat more easily.

You Will Need

  • Saline or prescribed respiratory nose drops
     
     
  • Bulb syringe
  • Soft tissues
  • A soft blanket (rolled up) - optional

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 bulb syringe, squeeze the air out of the bulb. Keep the bulb squeezed.
  2. Gently place the tip of the squeezed bulb into a nostril.
  3. Release the bulb to let the air back into the bulb. This will pull the mucus out
    of the nose and into the bulb.
  4. Squeeze the mucus out of the bulb and onto a tissue.
  5. Suction the other nostril the same way.
  6. If mucus is too thick to suction, thin it with saline or prescribed respiratory drops if needed (see instructions below).
  7. Gently wipe off the mucus around the baby's nose with tissues to prevent skin irritation.
  8. Limit suctioning to four times a day to avoid irritating the lining of the nose.

Image of squeezing air out of bulb
1 - To use the bulb syringe, squeeze the air out of the bulb. Keep the bulb squeezed.

Image of bulb in nose
2 - Gently place the tip of the
squeezed bulb into a nostril.
 
Image of letting air in bulb
3 - Release the bulb to let the air back into the bulb. This will pull the mucus out of the nose and into the bulb.
Image of squeezing mucus out
4 - Squeeze the mucus out of the bulb and onto a tissue.

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.

Saline Nose Drops

Saline nose drops can be bought over-the-counter or made at home.

To make the saline nose drops, you will need:

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

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

How to Put Nose Drops into the Child's Nose

  1. Lay your baby on his back.
  2. Put 3-4 drops into each nostril using the nose dropper. The nose drops may make the baby sneeze (Picture 1).
  3. After giving the nose drops, hold your baby with his head back for about a minute. This will give the saline time to thin the mucus.
    Then, suction with the bulb syringe as shown on Page 1.
  4. Do not use any other type of medicine nose drops unless prescribed by the doctor.

Picture 1  Put saline nose drops into your baby's nose.

Caution: Remember to use saline drops and perform suctioning before feeding. The combination of saline and suctioning may cause vomiting. Suctioning will also make it easier for your child to breathe during his feeding.

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 2/14 Copyright 1978, Nationwide Children's Hospital

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