How to do a nasal saline rinse for toddlers and kids

It’s starting to be allergy and drippy-nose season already! At the very least, it’s the time of year when young children who haven’t been exposed to a lot of germs return to school and start carrying home some fun ones. In addition to boosting immunity with Thieves oil for infants and toddlers, one of my go-to treatments for prevention and also treatment of upper respiratory illness for kids is nasal saline rinsing. Obviously, a nasal saline rinse for toddlers and kids does not look the same as it does for adults. For adults, I always recommend the neti pot first of all. It’s much less harsh and does a more thorough job of rinsing contaminants out. However, if you’ve ever tried to hold a child’s head sideways and pour salt water into their nose (I haven’t, but I have a friend who actually tried this!), OUT OF WHICH THEY BREATHE, you might recognize it is a fool’s errand. More water is going to get on you and the child than into anybody’s nose. And it’s going to traumatize both you and the child.

Here is where I recommend the nasal saline spray for kids.

The key word is SPRAY

Do not buy the ridiculous bottles labeled “drops OR spray” with a nozzle that looks like this:

Saline DROPS are not what you want, you want saline SPRAY for kids
Saline DROPS are NOT what you want,
you need saline SPRAY for kids

There is no way you are going to get that dropper top to defy gravity and send water up a child’s nose! I don’t know what someone was smoking to call that a “spray”. The only way to make that kind of dropper spray significant amounts is to invert the head. Now you’re right back to having to hold your child’s head sideways and put liquid up their nose.

Just, NO.

Here is the kind of nozzle you need:

The easiest nozzle for kids to do their own nasal saline spray - post includes video demo with a 2 & 3 year old

Below is a video of my kids demonstrating how they do nasal saline spray on themselves.

If you weren’t able to see the embedded video, you can see it on YouTube here.

The key is to start young and make it fun. I started my kids at birth with nasal saline spray. Until they were about a year old, I followed the spray with suction using the nose frida (affiliate link). Because the nose frida mimics the feeling of blowing out through the nose (not suction like those bulb suctions you get at the hospital), both my kids knew how to blow their own nose before they were 2 years old. I let them start holding the saline nose spray for themselves at about 18 months old. I also let them spray it into the air as you will see in the video because that makes it fun!

I hope this answers some of the questions I get about how I get my kids to use nasal saline spray. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!


20 thoughts on “How to do a nasal saline rinse for toddlers and kids

  1. Jonathan (EcoDad) says:

    We’ve used the pressurized sprays like you talk about with the kids. For ourselves we use a reusable saline rinse bottles, but be sure to boil the water first and let it cool to treat the brain eating amoeba that can be found in some tap water. It is only a problem when you squirt it up your nose.

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