How to Use a Nasal Aspirator

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A nasal aspirator or rubber bulb syringe sucks mucus from a baby’s nose, providing relief from congestion. First, apply a few drops of saline solution to soften mucus. Compress the aspirator and hold it gently inside the nostril opening. Release the bulb to create the gentle suction that removes snot. Within 10 minutes, your baby should breathe easier.

How to Use a Nasal Aspirator


For most new parents, the nasal aspirator is the most mysterious and intimidating part of a new baby’s care regime – even more intimidating than clipping a baby’s nails, giving a newborn a bath, or detangling toddler hair!

Learning how to use a nasal aspirator takes practice, for sure. But once you have practiced a few times, you won’t find it so stressful.  

As a parent the benefits are clear – you’ll be able to offer quick relief to your baby when she is suffering from a stuffy nose. Having a baby with respiratory congestion is disconcerting – they’re fussy, often don’t eat well, and seem miserable.

Whereas older babies can convert to mouth breathing, tiny infants try – and fail – to breathe through their blocked nose.  

Using a nasal aspirator is important for the wellbeing and comfort of your little one. You’ll feel much better as a parent, knowing you can help your baby be more comfortable. 

And you may even decide nasal aspirators are worth a try yourself!

What You Will Need

  • Baby nasal aspirator such as a tube aspirator or a rubber bulb syringe.
  • Nasal saline solution. While you can make your own, we recommend you buy it from the pharmacy to ensure it’s safe.
  • A well-lit room or good light to see what you’re doing.
  • A comfortable place for your baby, such as a tummy time mat, nap mat, or soft play gym.
  • A towel to clean up any messes.
  • Tissues.
  • A second set of adult hands to help.
  • Optional: distraction such as a toy, song, or book to occupy your baby’s attention.
Baby nasal aspirator
Copyright: demkat / 123RF Stock Photo

Step by Step Instruction – How to Use a Baby Nasal Aspirator

  1. Pick a time when your baby is relaxed.
  2. Lay your baby down on her back, with chin tilted slightly up. You may put a folded towel under his or her head so they’re comfy.
  3. Squirt one or two drops of nasal saline into each of your baby’s nostril to soften mucus. Wipe the dropper or spray nozzle clean before changing nostrils.
  4. Wait 20 seconds or so to give the saline solution time to loosen the mucus.
  5. If your baby is still congested after using the saline solution or spray, use a clean baby nasal aspirator
  6. Squeeze the air out of the bulb so it’s fully compressed, and keep the bulb squeezed.
  7. Gently insert the tip into your baby’s nostril and slowly release the bulb. This will suck out the mucus from your baby’s nose.
  8. Squeeze the bulb into a tissue to get rid of the mucus you’ve removed, and wipe the tip clean.
  9. Suction mucus from the other nostril.
  10. Wait five to 10 minutes, and then assess whether your baby is still congested. If she’s still congested, you can use saline solution again, and repeat the process.
  11. Work slowly and gently so you don’t injure or startle your baby
  12. Don’t suction more than 2 to 3 times per day and don’t use saline drops or spray for more than 3 or 4 days in a row.

Frequently Asked Questions about Using a Baby Nasal Aspirator

What Age are Baby Nasal Aspirators for?

Nasal aspirators are best for babies 3 months and younger. Infants have little or no ability to clear their noses themselves and will try their hardest to nose breathe, even when it seems impossible. Once babies are older, they’ll switch to breathing through their mouth when congested. 

How Should I Clean the Nasal Aspirator?

Clean the aspirator/syringe with warm soapy water after each use, using a baby safe cleaner like baby dish soap, natural baby shampoo, or a safe fragrance free cleaner. Wash the tip and draw some water into the syringe, shake, and release. Repeat several times, then let dry by suspending the syringe upside down in a glass.

Could I Accidentally Injure my Baby Using the Aspirator?

Skin inside the nostrils is fragile, and aggressive suctioning can cause inflammation and even bleeding. This will only make congestion worse.  

Use only gentle suction, no more than 2 to 3 times per day as required. If your baby is resistant, don’t persist. Give her some time and try again later.

What Should I do if my Baby is still Congested after Using the Aspirator?

Using a cool-mist humidifier can help ease a congested baby alongside nasal aspiration. If you need to aspirate all the time, if the mucus is green in colour, the baby is distressed, discoloured or isn’t feeding, seek medical attention promptly.

How to Use a Baby Aspirator – My Best Tips

  • Your baby will take his or her cues from you, so try to relax and be calm when attempting nasal aspiration.
  • Use the proper tools for the job – make sure you have a bulb aspirator or newer-style tube aspirator made specifically for the purpose.
  • Ensure your baby is placid when you do it – try to deal with the problem before he or she gets too distressed.
  • Talk to your baby and soothe him or her throughout the entire process. Use praise and keep him engaged and happy.
  • Be confident and gentle in your approach so it will be over before your baby even notices what’s going on.
  • Don’t lose hope. These sort of baby care tasks do require some practice. It’s so hard when you just want to ease their discomfort and they won’t let you! Just take a deep breath, and try again.
  • It can help to have another adult there to give you reassurance or to lend a spare hand.
  • Cool-mist humidifiers are another effective way to ease nasal congestion if nasal aspiration is not possible, or if you need some extra relief for your little one.


I hope you have found this tutorial on how to use a baby nasal aspirator helpful. I know only too well how distressing it can be to have a congested baby. I remember those sleepless nights with my 3-week old son, feeling helpless while watching him stubbornly gasp for a breath through a heavily congested nose. Thank goodness for my handy nasal aspirator! I was able to relieve his blocked nose so he could still manage a feed without so much fuss. 

Do you know a new mom or dad who needs this article in their life right now? We hope you’ll share it with them!

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