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Suctioning for Bronchiolitis: FAQ for Parents

Below are answers to frequently asked questions we receive about suctioning for bronchiolitis.

These are available for purchase from many pharmacies and online retailers. They may help with the ease of suctioning mucous from your child’s nose.

You can suction your child’s nose at any age. Suction should only be applied for a few seconds at a time, allowing for your child to catch their breath in between suctioning. It is most effective for children under the age of 2, when they can’t blow their nose effectively yet.

If your child has thin mucous (boogers), it may not be necessary to use saline. You can use a couple of drops of saline if your child has thick secretions (boogers). Two drops in each nostril should be enough to thin out the mucus.

You may see the following:

  • Sinking in above, below or in between ribs

  • Faster than 1 breath per second

  • Trouble eating, due to congestion

It may help to swaddle the baby with a blanket. If you have a helper, they may be able to hold the baby comfortably for you while you suction the nose.

You should continue to suction intermittently as long as you are continuing to retrieve mucous with suctioning. It is especially important to continue to suction intermittently if your baby looks like they breathe more comfortably and eat better after suctioning. It may help to have another caregiver swaddle your baby and hold them comfortably during suctioning.

In most cases, suctioning is most helpful before feeding and before sleeping.

Not necessarily. Cold air is typically dry and may cause thickening of mucous (boogers), making them harder to retrieve while suctioning.

Using a humidifier may help to thin your child’s mucous (boogers). However, you will want to make sure to strictly follow the cleaning recommendations by the manufacturer. If the humidifier isn’t cleaned properly it can lead to mold growth. Also, ensure cleanliness of other surroundings, and avoid placing the humidifier on a carpeted floor.

Most manual suction devices work similarly, we don’t endorse one product over another. Make sure to read all instructions carefully and use your suction device as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.