Battling the Bulb

Mother using bulb syringe to clean unhappy infant baby's noseA sick baby makes for a very unhappy baby and a very worried mother. Babies prefer to breath through their nose, but when your baby just has a cold, they may not be able to breath as easy. You can help her breathe more easily with a bulb syringe, or nasal aspirator. Let’s look at how to choose a bulb syringe, when to use it, how to use it and how to keep it clean.

Which to Choose?

You probably have at least one of these devices at home already, as they’re typically sent home with you from the hospital. These basic models work just fine, though there are a couple of other types you might like better. You can buy two-piece bulb syringes, which can be taken apart for easier cleaning. There’s also a newer version on the market, with which you physically suck the mucous out of your baby’s nose with your mouth, using a tube. It sounds gross, but it’s hygienic, and actually works quite well.

When to Use It

When baby can’t breathe, she can’t eat or sleep very well. You’ll know when her nose is full of mucous, so that part’s easy. Just don’t suction her nose more than two or three times a day, because it can irritate the lining of her nostrils.

How to Use It

The actual device is super-easy to use—it’s your wiggly baby who might make it difficult. All you have to do is squeeze the air out of the bulb, then gently put the tip just inside baby’s nostril, and slowly release your hold on the bulb.

Remove it from baby’s nose and squeeze the bulb hard into a tissue to empty it, and then repeat the process for the other nostril. If you use the mouth-sucking kind of aspirator, refer to the included instructions for how to use and clean the device.

How to Clean It

The basic one-piece syringe should be cleaned in warm, soapy water. Suction water into the syringe, shake it well, and then shoot the water back out. Also, be sure to clean the outside of the bulb, especially the tip. The two-piece type can be taken apart and washed by hand like any other piece of baby equipment.

Talk to your baby's doctor if you have any questions about when and how to use a bulb syringe.