This Ask The Expert article is by my friend, Dr. Hana Solomon.
[Re-Post, with corrected links to Dr. Hana's New Website]
I invited Dr. Hana (as her patients call her) to help with a question that I am often asked: How can I get my toddler to blow their nose?
Why Dr. Hana as our Expert?
Hana Solomon, MD is:
- Board certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Over 20 years practicing at the Solomon Family Medical Clinic in Columbia, Missouri
- President of BeWell Health, LLC, maker of Dr. Hana’s Nasopure nasal saline rinse system
- Author of Clearing the Air One Nose at a Time: Caring For Your Personal Filter
- Author of numerous articles on natural health, nasal health, and complementary and alternative medicine
- Featured guest on radio and television news shows as an expert in rhinitis, allergies, and asthma
- Long-time teacher of the art and science of caring for the noses of children
- She has a nose of her own, so she is familiar with the apparatus
Those of you who are regular readers of this blog (all two of you – thanks Mom, thanks Dad) will recognize the name of her book, Clearing the Air One Nose at a Time, as the book that I was planning to write.
It is THE owner’s manual for your nose.
If you have rhinitis or sinusitis, and you don’t own this book … why not?
Regular readers of this blog will also recognize the name Nasopure as the nasal saline rinse system that I use for myself and for our children, and the one that I recommend for my patients.
Her formula contains NO benzalkonium chloride or other preservatives, is nicely buffered so that it does not burn or sting – important for little noses, but I appreciate it for my nose also.
To summarize – she is the perfect expert to answer today’s question, and I am honored that Dr. Hana has accepted my invitation to write an article for our Ask the Expert feature.
“How can I get my toddler to blow their nose”?
Let’s all sing: Blow, Blow, Blow Your Nose. Gently Now, Don’t Scream …
Teaching your toddler or preschooler how to blow their nose may have developed into your greatest challenge as a parent thus far! Don’t despair. They will learn: recent studies show that 98% of all high school students can successfully blow their own nose.
How to Get Rid of That Nose Pudding
But seriously, we all get tired of seeing goopy-nosed little ones running around, and wish there was an easy way to teach them to just blow all that junk out, with or without our help.
That “nose pudding” is preventing your child from breathing easily, preventing the sinuses from breathing too. Collection of that goop in the nose and sinuses is a setup for rhinitis and sinusitis. Let’s avoid that.
Alas, it is not easy. But I do have some ideas to help you help them learn.
It’s a Learned Behavior
Remember that while breathing in and out is a natural, instinctive ability, blowing in and out – either through the mouth or the nose – is a learned behavior. It is also a rather abstract idea, and while young children are good at concrete concepts, most of them flounder when it comes to abstract thinking. So, if your kid gets this quickly, consider him or her a genius!
First, the Practice with the Mouth
First, practice blowing air through the mouth. Buy a large bottle of toy bubbles and wand and teach your child to blow bubbles. Emphasize gentle pursing of the lips as well as puffing the air as you enjoy watching the bubbles form. (Be aware that the dripping bubble mix makes a slippery mess so be mindful and careful.)
An alternate game is “Paper Chase.” Let your child tear up some little pieces of colored paper. On a non-carpeted floor, mark a start and finish line with masking tape, and “time” your child blowing pieces of paper from one line to the other while lying on his belly. This game is ideal just before nap time!
Then Learn to Blow Through the Nose
Once the idea of blowing through the mouth is established, then the task is to move on to blowing through the nose. Only baby elephants are born thinking that this particular skill makes any sense.
One of the best games is “Blow the Hankie.” Get a tissue. Have your child take a deep breath and clamp her teeth together. Gently hold your index finger up and down across her lips as though you are telling her to shush. Hold the tissue about an inch from her face and see if your child can move it by blowing the air from her nose. If they do, they WIN!
It may help to have them gently close off one nostril and blow through just one side at a time. This seems to help some children feel the air move through their nose while keeping their mouth closed, which is the key – and the hardest concept for children to grasp.
Show Some Enthusiasm
Be prepared to provide lots of clapping and cheering and encouragement during these games, as well as reminders about keeping lips sealed shut, breathing in and out through the nose only, etc. Be animated. Be supportive. Be patient.
Practice, Practice, Practice
For adults, practicing over and over is what makes us succeed, and children are no different. The difference for children is that they learn by play, so think imaginatively and creatively with your particular child in mind.
Be Well, Dr. Hana
I want to put in a plug for Dr. Hana’s website. It is a treasure of information if you are the parent of a little boogorhead!! If you have not seen the videos of little children doing nasal saline rinses, you must check these out!
For complete transparency: I have NO financial or other arrangements with Dr. Hana or Nasopure. I DO endorse Nasopure as a great product that I use.
Thanks for visiting.
Please, leave a comment on how you have done – successes or failures – with teaching your child to blow their nose.
When my own little monkeys have a URI and they are so congested that they simply cannot blow their nose, I help them out using the Baby NasaKleen Nasal Aspirator (transparency: NO financial affiliation to Squip, the maker; I am an Amazon affiliate).
This little nose sucker is a great way to clear a little nose without trauma.
I appreciate your comments and questions. Keep ‘em coming. Please, “be excellent to one another.”
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Until next time, remember … you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose (unless you’re a boogor doctor :~D)