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Easing baby's congestion
Q: I'm concerned about my 3-month-old son's congestion. It's been going on about four weeks. I've tried a cool mist vaporizer, saline spray and chest ointment. Nothing seems to help. I've seen his pediatrician three times and she tells me the same thing. He chokes every time he cries, and he throws up every time he eats. Please help!
Melissa Stockton
A: Melissa, it's understandable that you're frustrated with your baby's continued stuffy nose after trying many things to treat it. It's good that you've had your baby checked by your pediatrician. This should reassure you that your baby is basically OK and does not have any serious health problem. In fact, it's very common for newborns to be congested, especially since their nasal passages are so small. This usually resolves as babies grow.

The other possibility that comes to mind is that your baby could have reflux, which is very common in newborns. This is when, usually after feedings, the baby's stomach contents—milk, mucus and stomach acids—come back up and out the mouth and/or nose. This could cause the spitting up, choking, and nasal irritation and congestion that you've observed. Talk with your pediatrician about the possibility of reflux. If this is what your baby has, there are many other things you could try to reduce it:
  • Feed your baby before he gets very hungry.
  • Feed him in a semi-upright position.
  • Give him small feedings at a time.
  • Burp him mid-feeding.
  • Keep him upright for 15 to 20 minutes after feedings.
Also, discuss other options with your doctor. For bottle-fed babies, some doctors recommend thickening the formula with a small amount of rice cereal. Your doctor might also consider prescribing a medication for reflux.

For more information on reflux, visit www.zerotothree.org/site/DocServer/
Coping_with_GERD.pdf?docID=2281 .

Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician