Ask The Expert – Teach Your Child to Blow Their Nose

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
Dr. Hana Solomon

Dr. Hana Solomon

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.

____________________________________________________

Q: Question:

“How can I get my toddler to blow their nose”?

A: Answer:

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.

More Games

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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Best of health and success to you and your families.

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)

Comments

  1. Hi Dr. Russ, Well, have to write you and tell you how glad I am that you sent this to my email. We just got over a pretty bad bug here – throat and lung related – lots and lots of mucus in the lungs. The whole family got it, but my son with the cough variant asthma issue got it the worst, probably because he doesn’t like to blow his nose.

    It was bad, he slept upright in a lazy boy for a week. We got very little sleep for several days because he coughed so much, and we had to take a trip to urgent care for a breathing treatment … that really helped very little. sigh. it was a rough week.

    At the end of that week I got your post about this, and I went to Dr. Hana’s site. When I read her paper about Asthma and the nasopure and everything it can do for swollen nasal passages and for asthma and for even viruses I wanted one right away.

    Dr. Hana sent me one right away, but I was so impressed by the videos I actually sent my husband out that day 40 miles to get one in sandpoint.

    I showed my son the videos of the young kids using it and read him a lot of the features and he was quite exctited about getting it too. (he’s 7)

    So, when we got it, Joe had been on antibiotics for a few days and felt ok, but was still sleeping sitting up.

    I knew he was congested, but nothing really came out when we blew his nose.

    We got the nasopure and he used it for the first time and the amount of snot that came out of his nose was astonishing. Amazing. Massive. I couldn’t believe it.

    After the first spray of water snot was just pouring out of his nose and he had to blow it 8 or 9 times just to get everything out. Before we used it blowing would get nothing out.

    Can I just say that all that crap in his sinuses must have been HORRIBLE?! and it would probably still be there if we didn’t have the nasopure.

    It’s been a week, and now when he uses the nasopure very little snot comes out. He’s been using it twice a day for a week and I am so happy and confident that this will be a wonderful tool in our fight against his cough variant asthma.

    Thank you so much for recommending it. :) I just wish I would have gotten it months ago when I first heard of it from you. Lisa

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Lisa,
      Thanks so much for visiting, and especially for sharing your experience. I am delighted that you achieved success using my own personal favorite nasal saline system – Nasopure.
      What you describe is a typical experience for those children with chronic sinusitis who are just starting nasal saline rinses. As soon as the saline rinse reduces the swelling, the sinuses open up. As you report, all of those secretions that were sitting in the sinuses can suddenly flow out. It can be impressive.
      Once your son is over the acute phase of his respiratory infection you can reduce the saline rinses to once daily. That will be easier on him, and less irritating to his nose.
      If he has a bad time of the year from allergies, you can increase that back to twice daily for a while to help keep his nose clear of allergens.
      Thanks again for sharing, and see you back here soon. I will have a Nasopure discount coupon for my email community!
      RF

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  1. [...] as her patients call her, is a Pediatrician extraodinaire. She provided a great article on How to Teach Your Child to Blow Their Nose, something every parent will appreciate as one of life’s great challenges. Dr. Hana is also [...]

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