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How to Use Baby Nasal Aspirator or Bulb Baby Syringe

How to Use Baby Nasal Aspirator

Calling all the attention of parents: before you can use a baby nasal aspirator, know there is a limit to how often you can use them.

It’s best to use them 3 to 4x a day since excessive use leads to irritation and nosebleeds.

We understand your concern for your little one’s stuffy nose. So don’t worry, because we, too, want what’s best for your baby, especially if the aspirator is needed for sleeping.

This article will walk you through what you’ll need before you use a nasal aspirator/baby bulb syringe, as well as the step-by-step procedure on how to use it on your baby.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

What You’ll Need to Use a Nasal Aspirator

Before you get started on using a baby nasal aspirator, understand that proper preparation goes a long way in ensuring the safety and overall health of your child.

These tools are meant to be used on newborns until children are ready to blow their own noses.

But it can also help remove any excess snot from nasal passages that may be impeding their airways, especially when you swaddle them.

To make sure you are ready to handle “Operation Mucus Removal“, these few items would be helpful:

  • Saline Solution (Optional – Dropper)
  • Rubber Bulb Syringe/Aspirator
  • Tissues for the babies
  • Soft rolled Up Blanket

Items 2, 3, and 4 all seem pretty self-explanatory. Just make sure you use individual tools on just each child to avoid any cross-contamination between children.

Now, don’t forget these tips:

  • Remember that a baby’s nasal passages are very delicate, so the pipe of your nasal aspirators shouldn’t be too deep and too forceful.
  • Disinfect the tips of the tools regularly and avoid doing nasal congestion removal more than three times per day.
  • For cleaning, use gentle soap for the tools and throw away any tissues you’ve used to wipe or as makeshift filters.

Saline Solution

Saline Solution

The saline solution, to those who are unfamiliar, is a simple solution containing salt.

This helps when using a nasal aspirator to disinfect and loosen the mucus that builds up (leading to nasal congestion) in the baby’s nasal passages.

You can get a store-bought saline solution from any pharmacy, or you can opt to make it at home.

Make sure you have a dropper on hand so that administering the saline drops would be much easier. If your baby has any prescribed respiratory nose drops, you can opt to use that as well.

To make a baby salt solution, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • Table salt
  • Clean jar with cover
  • A dropper (optional)
  • Kitchen measuring spoon

How to Make Your Own at Home: 

  • First off, fill the clean jar with 1 cup of warm (no need for boiling hot here) water.
  • Add 1/4 a teaspoon of table salt. Stir it in until you see all the particles dissolve. Cover and let the solution cool completely before using.
  • Make sure you also throw away any unused solution. Avoid trying to save some solution for use next time as it’s much better and cleaner to make a fresh batch.

Nasal Aspirator: A Guide to Each Baby Mucus Tool

Guide to Each Tool

Now, for the step-by-step guide, we’ve split apart the different baby methods in regards to using nasal aspirators.

As we mentioned above, each tool is different in its operation, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with each aspirator before you use them on the baby.

Below you’ll find the guides, as well as some more data on what to look for when buying baby nasal aspirators.

How to Use a Nasal Aspirator

First on our list is a popular mode of clearing babies with congested nostrils: the nasal baby aspirator.

How to Gently Decongest Your Baby’s Mucus: 

  • Let your baby lie on his/her back. You can place a towel under his/her head, so they’re comfortable.
  • Squirt 1 to 2 drops of nasal saline into your baby’s nostrils to soften the mucus. BUT please remember to wipe the dropper clean before changing nostrils.
  • Now, wait for 20 seconds.
  • If your baby is still congested after applying saline treatment, this is where baby nasal aspirators come in.
  • Grab your aspirator and place the mouthpiece in your mouth.
  • Then, place the nose tip onto your baby’s nostril. Make sure to angle it in an UPRIGHT position.
  • Finally, suck the mucus out as any concerned parent would. It’s that simple!

NOTE: Make sure to wash the tool after sucking any mucus out of each nostril. You don’t want any infections, right?

Will a Nasal Aspirator Hurt My Child? 

No, it will not.

Many modern companies, like the popular NoseFrida, have designed the modern nasal aspirator to be made out of food-grade materials and have areas where filters can be installed.

Normally you’d have an end of the aspirator (the mouthpiece, which is normally BPA-free) in your mouth and the other softer tubing in the opening of your baby’s nose to form a tight seal.

You then suck, much like a straw!

The disposable filter found in most nasal aspirators will keep bacteria from your saliva and the captured stuffy nose drippings from transferring.

Just use gentle breaths to coax the mucus out of the baby’s stuffy nose without damaging any of the sensitive internal nose parts that the baby has.

What Are The Risks? 

Frankly put: not cleaning it. 

Keeping these tools CLEAN IS KEY as the mouth, and other open orifices are easily infected by dirty tools. Remember to limit this to about three times per day.

These products come with complete directions on how to use a nasal aspirator and how to care for it. They may cost a bit more (around $15) though.

Bulb Pipe Aspirator


A rubber ballon pipe-type aspirator basically acts as a hand-operated nasal aspirator by using the compression on the bulb to create a mini-vacuum.

  • Start by compressing the tool with your fingers to remove air.
  • While it’s compressed, place this tip onto the first congested side. Then release the bulb, drawing all the mucus out of the child’s nose. (You may need to repeat this more than once to get all that mucous out of the stuffy nose).
  • Remember that nasal saline is useful in this scenario to get all the booger out easily without using too much force.
  • This small vacuum from the expandable pipe will be able to get the snot out with a few squeezes. When you’re done with a nostril, wipe and disinfect the pipe, then repeat the same process on the other side. Just squeeze the bulb again.
  • If you find that the baby is still congested after a few minutes, apply saline again and repeat the process. Like the nasal baby aspirator, you shouldn’t be doing this more than three times a day. Doing so would irritate the lining of the baby’s nostril.

The nasal solution shouldn’t be used several times in a row as well.

If regular nasal spray usage can affect even adult noses, imagine what it would do to babies. This is also why we most experts don’t highly recommend using Vicks Vapopads on very young babies.

How to Put Saline Drops into the Child’s Nose

We’ve been talking about how using baby saline drops can really help with congestion, but we haven’t touched on how best to do so.

These simple tips below can help you give your baby the appropriate amount in the safest way.

  • Start with laying them on their back, preferably with a small pillow or a towel to act as a cushion for their back.
  • Only put a few drops (around 3-4) of saline solution whenever you need to use a nasal aspirator. Get ready cause these may cause them to sneeze.
  • After administering, hold them with their head back for about a minute. This lets the solution properly get into the mucus to break it down and thin it for suction.

This applies to any other prescribed baby nasal solutions that your doctor may have prescribed.

Difference Between Baby Nasal Aspirator & Bulb Syringe Pipe


It may both sound like foreign objects to the untrained parent, but it is pretty easy to distinguish the differences between a baby nasal aspirator and the bulb syringe pipe.

You’ll want to make sure you do so as each one works differently in clearing your baby’s nose.

The Good Nursery Nasal Aspirator vs Bulb Syringe

Source of Suction

An aspirator uses a flexible tube, whereas a baby bulb pipe uses a squeezable ball to create a vacuum before you place the device on the baby.

To better illustrate, the nasal baby aspirator is normally designed as a small pipe with a long flexible tube at one end.

Using the power of your own human suction, you basically suck out the mucous from your baby (don’t worry, the mucous is caught in a disposable filter/piece of tissue, depending on the model you get).

It’s basically using your sucking prowess to get all that gunk out of the baby.

A rubber bulb syringe, on the other hand, uses a tube with a squeezable “balloon” that creates a vacuum that can mimic the suction needed to remove the booger in your baby’s nostril.

Simply press and release the bulb to draw the material out. When you release the bulb, the gunk will be drawn out.

Which Nasal Aspirator to Use?

It really boils down to preference and what you are comfortable with using.

A baby nasal aspirator may be able to give you a controlled suction as you’re using a bodily function tip to do it, but you may also find it unsanitary to do so.

A baby balloon pipe mitigates this by just needing a squeeze on the balloon to get the boogers out, allowing you to lessen the cleaning needed and even allow others to take care of this, too!

No need to be reminded of the dangers of sharing straws!

But a rubber bulb syringe may not get you the kind of steady suction you’ll need for some really bad congestion moments, even when you squeeze the bulb.

So it does boil down to which fits your preferences.

It won’t hurt to have both in your baby medicine supplies bag when the time comes to clear any gunk that’s hurting your little one.

Final Words

Final Words

These two tools are surprisingly simple to use, but it doesn’t hurt to get reminded about things that may help when decongesting sensitive noses.

From nasal saline solutions to the use of warm soapy water for cleaning, little reminders that help hygiene and safety can go a LONG way for beginner and experienced parents alike!

Just remember to take it easy when doing any cleaning as too much regular cleaning (even with warm soapy water) can damage the lines of the noses of your child.

The last thing you want is scarred inner noses that will just irritate your newborn!

Nonetheless, nasal aspirators and traditional bulb syringes will be great additions to your baby’s medicine cabinet. You never know when an emergency could happen and you might need them.

So the next time you’re about to get some noses unclogged, just check out this guide for some quick reminders on how best to do so.

Now that you’ve got to know how to use a baby nasal aspirator properly, you can safely let your baby rest on a good crib mattress for a restful sleep.


September 19, 2022 – minor content edits

July 23, 2021 – Reviewed and updated article links

About the author

Angelica Graham

A few years ago, Angelica found out about all the plastic and toxic ingredients that got into most children’s products. And this worried her to no end. Because of this, she began to research what the best ingredients and materials were for children and made it her mission to share this information with other mothers.