In the first few months of life, babies are obligate nose breathers. This means that they have to breathe through their noses. By the time babies are three to six months of age, they are able to breath through their mouths, but most still prefer nasal breathing. Because babies breath through their noses, they make all sorts of noise—snurgles, snorts, and other sounds that mimic a cold. If a baby truly has a cold, he will have a runny nose and a cough.
The reason this distinction is important is because many parents feel the need to clean their baby’s noses if they are stuffy. As long as your baby can feed easily, you do not need to (a) put saline drops in his nose or (b) clean his nose with a nasal aspirator. If your baby is so stuffy that she cannot feed properly, you should discuss this with your doctor.
After a baby is born, the nurses usually put a blue rubber aspirator in his bassinet. Parents commonly take this item home and use it to clean mucus from their baby’s nose. You should be aware that this device is not a nasal aspirator. Instead, the hospital nurses use it to suck saliva or mucus out of a baby’s mouth after he spits up. The reason it should not be used in the nose is because the tip is pointy and can injure a newborn’s sensitive nasal passages. A true nasal aspirator has a blunt tip that cannot be pushed too far into a baby’s nose. The tip can also be removed so the inside can be cleaned out from time to time.
Hiccups are caused by a sudden contraction of the diaphragm, which draws air rapidly into the esophagus. The characteristic squeak occurs because the epiglottis closes rapidly shutting off the influx of air.
Young babies frequently get hiccups after a feeding. In most cases, hiccups do not bother babies and require no treatment. They usually resolve in five minutes or less. Because hiccups bother adults, it can be difficult to do nothing while you wait for them to go away. However, this is one of those situations where patience is clearly a virtue.
If hiccups occur during a feeding, they may bother your baby. In that case, change his position or hold him upright and see if a burp will make him feel better. If this doesn’t work, give your baby an ounce or two of sugar water (1/4 tsp sugar to 4 ounces of water). Hold him upright for a few minutes, and try feeding him again if he seems hungry.
Hiccups bother children more than babies. They usually occur after rapid eating, overeating or the ingestion of carbonated beverages. If hiccups last more that five minutes, give your child a teaspoon of granulated sugar. Have him swallow the sugar in one gulp. Repeat this two or three times over ten minutes if necessary. If the hiccups last more than two hours or your child is very uncomfortable, call your doctor.