Teach your child to properly blow his nose

Cold season.

All over town, boogery kids are wiping snot on their sleeves, their hands, and us.  One of the most important things you can teach your child is how to properly blow his/her nose.  It’s one of the “skills” I check for whenever a young child comes to my office with symptoms of an upper respiratory infection.  I’m always amused by the number of kids blowing air out of their mouth.

Here are my tips for getting the “highest yield”, so to speak, from a nose blow.

  1. Get some saline nasal spray.  If you’re doing this in the morning, we have crust to loosen before we get this party started. (If you have a pressurized can of saline with a gentle spray nozzle, all the better.  There are multiple brands — they all work pretty well.)  Instill the saline into each nostril- enough so that it starts dripping out.
  2. Dab the drips with a tissue.
  3. Have your child take a deep breath.
  4. With your finger on the tissue, apply enough pressure on one nostril to effectively close it off.
  5. Instruct your child to close his/her lips tight (curling them in works well) and blow as hard as possible through the nose. Make sure your tissue is in place!
  6. Examine the products of your efforts
  7. Repeat on the opposite side.

This whole process can be completed in under 20 seconds.  I like to do this in the morning, and before sleeping (naps and bedtime).  Your child will quickly grasp the concept, and by age 5, should be able to take care of business without assistance (most kids will continue to need help with the saline part, though).

Sakina Shikari Bajowala is an allergy and immunology physician who blogs at Achoo!- Adventures of an Allergist Mommy.

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