Babies produce a massive amount of snot and mucus — so much that, at times, it feels like a genuine achievement. It kind of is. Snot is essentially a filtration system that helps flush harmful bacteria and viral infections from the body. So all that nose drooling is keeping them healthy. That’s nice, but it doesn’t make it any less gross or making sure that it doesn’t get on the couch or strangers or the dog any less gross. Doing that safely is, as it turns out, a bit tricky. There are harmful side effects even to wiping a baby’s nose too often, which can cause extreme skin irritation under the nose. Throw in some more advanced baby-care tools — squeezable bulbs, elaborate booger straws like Fridas — and parents could easily become overzealous when removing snot and mucus.
The key thing to remember is moderation in all things, even snot.
Suction devices can be a godsend, but should be used at most a few times a day, with saline drops helping to loosen up mucus. If the child is showing signs of irritation, they should be abandoned to avoid damaging the nasal passages. “You don’t want to over-suction: It actually tells the body to create more snot,” says Sarah Stampflee, assistant nurse manager at the Randall Children’s Hospital NICU in Portland, Oregon. “The reason we have snot is to excrete the virus or bacteria, so the more you suck the boogers, the more they’ll actually produce.”
This is compounded by the fact that even the gentlest suction device can transform a changing table into what looks like a medieval torture device, with a flailing, screaming baby pinned down by a parent just trying to give them relief. This can be physically and psychologically harmful.
“I wouldn’t recommend holding them down because it isn’t pleasant and they can get some mixed messages that may create anxiety when they see (the apparatus),” Stampflee says.” If they’re able to…