Bulb Suctioning

What is bulb suctioning?

A bulb syringe is used to suction (remove) mucus from your baby's mouth or nose. Suctioning will make it easier for your baby to breathe. Babies breathe only through their noses until they are about 4 months old. If needed, it is best to suction your baby's nose and mouth before a feeding, nap, or bedtime. Avoid suctioning after feeding. This may cause your baby to vomit.

How do I make saline nose drops?

To thin the mucus, use two drops of a saline solution (salt water) in the nose before suctioning. You can buy these drops at a pharmacy or you can make your own. To make your own, mix ½ teaspoon of table salt with one cup of warm (not hot) water. Make fresh drops every day.

How to suction baby's nose:

  1. Gather these supplies:
    • Tissues
    • Saline drops
    • Bulb syringe
    • A small towel or blanket
  2. Lay your baby on his back with the towel or blanket rolled and placed under his shoulder to support and extend his neck. Do not over extend your baby's head.
  3. Using a clean nose dropper, place two drops of saline into one side of your baby's nose. Wait one minute.
  4. Suction the side you put the nose drops in as follows:
    • Squeeze air out of the bulb.
    • Gently place the tip of the bulb in the nose about ¼ - ½ inch.
    • Slowly let go of the bulb and let the bulb fill with air and thinned mucus.
    • Remove the bulb from your baby's nose and squeeze the mucus into a tissue.
  5. Repeat steps two through five on the other nostril.
  6. Clean your bulb syringe daily with warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Wash your hands well.
  7. Never hold the other nostril closed while suctioning.

This information is provided by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

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