My boyfriend swears by sucking out mucus when our eight-month-old has a cold. I’m on the fence. Do the benefits outweigh the discomfort of holding a screaming baby down to suck out the mucus using — what I consider to be — a torture device?—Linda R.
Are you not yet a parent and/or do you have a sensitive stomach? Please stop reading right now! You’re welcome.
For the rest of you: this question is about snotsuckers, the most prominent example of which is the NoseFrida. As the name suggests, these are for removing snot from the nose of a congested baby who is too young to blow their own nose. You stick one tube in the baby’s nose, suck on the end of the other one, and the suction clears the nose. The structure is such that the mucus is kept in the first tube and doesn’t go in your mouth.
(OMG, I am so happy my kids are older now.)
There are other ways to remove mucus from an infant nose. The traditional method uses a bulb syringe. Same idea as the snotsucker but, honestly, the snotsucker is a lot more effective (also, randomized trial data shows parents like it more).
But do you need to do this at all? As you note, babies do not like it. The happy baby in that picture does not reflect the attitude of actual babies.
In a lot of cases, you do not. Babies get stuffy noses, and pediatricians will commonly say that it bothers you more than it bothers the baby. However, it’s sometimes the case that excess congestion can be problematic. For example, breastfeeding infants may have trouble eating if they are too congested (because they need to breathe through their nose). It is thought that excess mucus can increase the risk of ear infection. Nasal aspiration is a recommended treatment for bronchiolitis in babies.
So … do you need to do this every time your child has a stuffy nose? Definitely, definitely not. Can it be useful for a very congested child? Yes. So your boyfriend is sort of right and you are sort of right. As it should be.