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Stuffy Nose, Sneezing, and Hiccups in Newborns

Your newborn can’t say what he or she needs. This means you have to pay close attention to the signs your baby gives. Stuffy noses, sneezes, and hiccups are some of these signs.

Stuffy Noses

Babies can only breathe through their noses (not their mouths). So when your baby’s nose is stuffed up with mucus, it’s much harder for him or her to breathe. When this happens, use a bulb syringe to clear out your baby’s nose.

Hand inserting bulb into baby's nose. Other hand is holding baby's head steady.


Using a Bulb Syringe

  • Squeeze the bulb.

  • Put only the tip of syringe in the baby’s nose. (Don’t push the syringe up the baby’s nose.)

  • Release the bulb. This sucks mucus out of baby’s nose and into the syringe. 

  • DON’T put the syringe in the baby’s nose before squeezing the bulb. Doing so will blow mucus farther up the nose.

  • After use, clean the syringe well with hot water and soap. While the tip of the syringe is in the soapy water, squeeze and release the bulb. This will fill the syringe with hot, soapy water. Then remove the tip from the water and squeeze the bulb again to empty the syringe. Repeat this process with clean, hot water to clear the soap out of the syringe.

  • If you have questions about using a bulb syringe, ask your baby’s doctor or nurse.


Babies sneeze to clear germs and particles out of the nose. This is a natural defense against illness. Sneezing every now and then is normal. It doesn’t necessarily mean the baby has a cold.


Hiccups are normal. Sucking on a pacifier, taking a few sips from a bottle, or breastfeeding may help your baby get rid of the hiccups. If not, don’t worry. They’ll stop on their own.


When to Call the Doctor

An occasional sneeze or stuffy nose usually isn’t a sign of a problem. But if these happen often, they could mean the baby has a cold or other health problem. Call the doctor if your baby:

  • Coughs

  • Sneezes often

  • Has trouble breathing

  • Doesn’t eat as much as normal

  • Seems rundown or less energetic than normal

  • Has a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher


Your Role as a Parent

Breathing problems are a sign that your baby needs medical help. Watch for signs of breathing trouble, such as faster breathing or forceful chest movement. Call the doctor if you notice breathing problems. Also consider taking a class in infant CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). This will teach you what to do if your baby has a breathing emergency.


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