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5 Safe & Easy Ways to Remove Boogers & Clean Baby’s Nose

I’m sure as most moms can agree, prior to having children the thought of handling someone else’s boogers was disgusting to me!

However, now that I’m on my third baby it’s a daily occurrence and doesn’t even phase me. I don’t even bat an eye!

You see, there’s a strange satisfaction to be found in clearing boogers out of your newborn or baby’s nose.

But, if you’re wondering exactly how to clean baby’s nose rest assured that with a few simple supplies and a gentle hand, it’s super easy!

In a hurry or just plain curious? 

These specific products are the most popular amongst readers when it comes to clearing your baby’s nose and alleviating the discomfort!

How NOT to Remove Boogers from Baby’s Nose…

Before talking about what you should do, let’s first address what not to do.

Resist the Urge to Extract Boogers Using Foreign Objects

How not to clean a baby's nose

Check any online parenting forum asking how to clean snot and boogers out of a newborn’s nose and you’ll see parents talking about using Q-tips, rolled up tissues, or even tweezers (yes, tweezers!) to remove stubborn dried boogers and mucus.

Please, do NOT use any of these methods!

It is never a good idea to insert any foreign object into your child’s nose, ears, mouth, etc. The risk of injury is just too great.

Babies wiggle and squirm and while you’re trying to get that booger out with a small, pointy object they can rapidly shake their head and that Q-Tip will cause injury to their delicate nasal cavity, and then you’ll be dealing with a nasty nosebleed and a screaming baby.

Forget All About Eucalyptus Oil 

Eucalyptus Oil

If you’re looking for ways to clean your baby’s nose without a syringe, the internet is full of (unhelpful) suggestions.

Essential oils are a popular natural solution to all kinds of troubles these days so you might find mommy blogs recommending eucalyptus oil in a diffuser or dropped onto a cotton ball and placed near the baby’s crib.

But did you know… that eucalyptus is toxic to infants and should not be used on children under the age of 2 years?

There are different varieties of eucalyptus, but the most popular, eucalyptus globulus is neurotoxic to young children.

The less popular eucalyptus radiata is safe for infants but less readily available. Play it safe and when in doubt, skip the eucalyptus all together.

Think Twice About Cleaning Baby’s Nose with Salt Water 

Baby Saline Rinse

Maybe you’ve seen that viral video of a woman shooting saline into her child’s nose to remove huge globs of snot, the baby smiling and even laughing at times.

It’s amazing how much snot comes out and how easy it looks, so you might be tempted to give it a try.

But, while saline is incredibly effective at removing mucus, it’s probably not a good idea to shoot large amounts of it up your baby’s nose.

Not only will most babies kick and scream and possibly end up scarred for life, but there is a considerable risk that the baby could aspirate the saline, resulting in pneumonia or other problems.

Likewise, Neti Pots are popular for congested adults but in general, a bad idea for babies. If you’re gung-ho on trying the saline method, when in doubt, ask your doctor.

5 Safe and Effective Methods to Clean Baby’s Nose 

In a healthy baby, you really don’t need to do much to clean their nose. In fact, you may have noticed that babies sneeze frequently.

These absolutely adorable sneezes serve a greater purpose than just cuteness.

Since babies can’t pick their own boogers, they sneeze to release them, makes sense, right? So naturally, on their own, babies are working to clear their own noses without outside intervention.

But, sometimes babies catch colds and need a little extra help. Babies breathe primarily through their noses for the first 2 months, so a stuffy nose can inhibit proper breathing, feeding, and sleeping. That’s a BIG problem!

In that case, there are several methods you can try to alleviate the discomfort and clear your baby’s nose, some of which you may like better than others depending on your personal gross-out factor.

Let’s take a look at a few common ways to remove snot from a newborn’s nose. These work for infants and older children as well.

Method #1: Saline Spray

Saline Nasal Spray NoseFrida Saline Snot Spray by Fridababy. All-natural Sea Salt and Water formula moisturizes and cleans nasal passages

Saline like this here helps to loosen mucus and whether you are dealing with an infant, toddler, or older child, saline is your best friend during cold and flu season.

For newborns, put a few drops of saline into each nostril and allow it to sit for a few minutes (if your child will let you!) before moving on to remove it with a bulb syringe or snot sucker.

It is more effective if you can lay your baby back at an incline to drop the saline, but we all know that some babies, especially wiggly toddlers, are not about to let you do that. Just do your best.

You can use store-bought saline drops or make your own by mixing 1/8th teaspoon salt to ½ cup of distilled water (do not use tap water).

On toddlers and older children, I prefer to use a pressurized saline spray like these from NoseFrida because drops just don’t seem to do the trick when there’s a nasty cold.

What’s great about saline is that since it’s not medicine, you can use it as frequently and generously as needed. When my children have colds, I use saline every hour at a minimum.

Method #2: Bulb Syringe/Aspirator

BoogieBulb Baby Nasal Aspirator and Booger Sucker for Newborns Toddlers & Adult - BPA Free - Blue 2 Ounce Bulb Syringe - Safe Nose Cleaner - Cleanable & Reusable Ear Syringe Nose Sucker

Hospitals all across the world use the bulb syringe to clear mucus from babies’ noses and mouths upon birth, and for good reason: they are quick and easy to use.

First, push on the base of the bulb to release any air and create a vacuum.

Then insert the tip into your baby’s nose, angled towards the side of the nostril, and gently release the bulb, sucking out any snot.

Remove it from the nose and push forcefully on the bulb to shoot any mucus out before clearing more snot. In order to increase the effectiveness of the bulb syringe, use saline first to loosen the mucus.

There are lots of bulb syringes on the market and they are relatively cheap, but it is important to remember that they can develop a buildup of germs and even mold, so they need to be frequently replaced.

Not only is that terrible for the environment, but it’s also annoying as heck to not have a clean one handy when you need it.

That’s why you should look for a model that can be disassembled and cleaned, like this BoogieBulb. You may pay a little more upfront, but you’ll never need to replace it and can rest assured knowing that the bulb is clean every time.

One advantage to the bulb syringe is that it can be used not only to remove mucus from the nose, but also can remove a foreign object from a choking infant.

Compress the bulb and insert it in the mouth against your baby’s cheek.

Release the bulb and the vacuum it creates should remove anything that your baby might be choking on.

Method #3: Snot Sucker

NoseFrida The Snotsucker Baby Nasal Aspirator and Saline Nasal Spray Kit with 10 Hygiene Filters by Fridababy - Sinus Congestion Relief for Newborns up to Toddlers (Large)

This amazing the NoseFrida Snotsucker will change your life. Really, trust me!

Start with saline and then insert the tube into the nose (it will only go in just enough to form a seal with the nostril) and suck the snot out (with your mouth) from the other end. You’re thinking, “EWW!” right? Well, hold on now…

Before you write it off as gross and unsanitary, the Nose Frida uses a filter to prevent any of the nasty stuff or germs from passing through the tube to your mouth.

It’s easy to clean the device and change the filter after each use, so there’s no concern about germs or mold building up over time.

Method #4: Electric Snot Sucker

OCCObaby Baby Nasal Aspirator - Safe Hygienic and Quick Battery Operated Nose Cleaner with 3 Sizes of Nose Tips Includes Bonus Manual Snot Sucker for Newborns and Toddlers (Limited Edition)

If you’re not so keen on the NoseFrida, you may want to consider an electric snot sucker like the Little Martin’s Drawer electric nasal aspirator.

It’s the same concept, but instead of using your own mouth and wind power to suck out the snot, it runs on batteries to create a tiny vacuum to remove the mucus.

I’ll admit, it’s not quite as fun as the NoseFrida Snotsucker and it’s also considerably more expensive, but if you have a queasy stomach it’s probably worth it.

If you’re dealing with a very wiggly baby, you may need a little help to hold her arms down throughout the process. They may not exactly enjoy having their snot removed, but don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt.

How to Get Dried, Hard Boogers Out of Your Baby’s Nose

Even when your baby is not sick, boogers are a natural part of life.

While most can be ignored, occasionally one will be large enough to bother your baby (or just gross you out!) and need to be removed.

If that is the case, there are few things you can try…

Method #1: Use BoogieWipes

Boogie Wipes, Unscented Wet Wipes for Baby and Kids, Nose, Face, Hand and Body, Soft and Sensitive Tissue Made with Natural Saline, Aloe, Chamomile and Vitamin E, 30 Count (Pack of 3)

Boogie Wipes are tissues pre-soaked in a saline solution.

Depending on where the booger is located, these may do the trick and they are sure to clear off all of the little crusties that dry around the edges of your baby’s nose.

BoogieWipes are great because you can keep them in your diaper bag or purse for when you’re out and about.

Some are even grape scented so baby will appreciate them a little more!

Method #2: Try to Induce a Sneeze

Try to tickle the tip of your baby’s nose with a tissue.

You may find that she will sneeze and release the booger without you having to do any work!

Method #3: Saline + Your Tool of Choice 

Use saline to loosen the booger and your favorite bulb syringe or snot sucker just as you would with heavy mucus.

Again, do not insert any small objects like Q-Tips or tweezers into your baby’s nose.

Precautions and Tips For Using a Syringe or Nasal Aspirator to Clean Baby’s Nose

Baby Nasal Aspirator

Whichever method you choose, safety and hygiene should be your main priority.

Follow these tips to avoid injuring your little one and prevent the spread of germs or injuries.

Label Saline Solution

If you have multiple children in your home, be sure to label each bottle of saline solution to avoid cross-contamination.

Do not assume that because they are both sick, they can share germs.

Each child (or adult) should have their own bottle of saline.

Replace Saline with Each Cold

Each time your child recovers from a cold, go ahead and throw out the bottle of saline that you were using.

It’s a good idea to keep a stash in your medicine cabinet or hall closet so that you’re never left trying to clear a stuffy nose without it.

If you use the saline for the occasional booger (rather than an illness), replace the bottle frequently.

Saline Drops in Baby's Nose

Clean All Parts Immediately After Each Use

I know, I get it. You’ve got a sick kid – your hands are full. But after you suck that snot, don’t just leave your NoseFrida or bulb syringe hanging out on the bathroom countertop. Take a moment to clean it immediately. Trust me, if you leave it and forget about it, it will start to grow things. Not that I would know.

Insert Carefully

Bulb syringes come in different sizes, so you want to be sure you have a small size (for newborns and infants) and that you only insert the tip into the nostril. If you push it too far into the nasal cavity it could injure your baby.

Only insert it at the tip of the nostrils and angle it towards the side of the nostril, rather than straight up, in order to prevent nosebleeds.

Conclusion

Whether you are trying to remove mucus or boogers from a newborn, infant, or toddler, the process is more or less the same.

The biggest difference is how much they squirm and whether or not they can run away from you!

If your baby continues with a runny nose for several days, you may want to check in with your doctor, but remember that most colds last about a week and clear up on their own.

If your baby has a fever or trouble breathing, call your doctor immediately.

Photo of author

Emily Perez

A proud mom of two, Emily is an Educational Consultant with a bachelor's in Education from the University of Texas who specializes in early childhood development.

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