Concerns About Your Baby’s Nose

 Learn what is normal with baby’s nose and when to be concerned and seek a doctor’s advice about baby nose concerns.

Mother addressing baby's nose

Did you know that a newborn recognizes a mother through smell first? Scientists even say a baby at 27 weeks gestation can sense 120 different smells found in amniotic fluid. 

The nose can cue you into problems your baby might be having. Baby Body Signs has a chapter dedicated to the nose.

Here are some things to notice and things not to worry about. This is not a complete list of what is discussed in the book, so for more information on the nose, see the book.


When a newborn breaths, she will likely flare her nose, especially while eating.

Nose-flaring when not eating can be a sign of illness, so if your child also has grunting, rapid breathing, sucking in chest muscles, tightening belly muscles, or contracting or flexing neck muscles, you should consult a doctor.

Stopping Breathing

“All babies occasionally stop breathing for a few seconds during sleep” (page 98). This typically lasts no more than 15 seconds.

If your baby stops breathing for longer periods than 15 seconds, goes limp, turns colors, or seems to be choking, you want to get to a doctor immediately. Try to wake the baby without shaking.

Some apnea is caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids, obesity, reflux, or facial or head abnormalities.

This may or may not be accompanied with snoring. I would bring snoring and/or apnea to the attention of your doctor so you can be sure there is not some issue that needs to be resolved.

Stuffing Noses

This is not stuffy noses, but the act of shoving things up the nose. Girls are more likely than boys to put things in their noses. 

So what do you do if your child puts something up the nose? 

  • Do not try to get it out if you cannot see it or if you cannot easily get it
  • Do not use tweezers or cotton swabs to remove an object
  • Do not try to induce sneezing

About a year ago, McKenna put a peanut up her nose. It was our first time encountering such an action with one of our children, and we had no idea what to do.

We tried to get her to blow her nose, my husband tried to use tweezers to get it out (oops! Nothing bad happened because of it, but apparently tweezers can damage nose tissue and/or push the object further).

It was almost her nap time, and I knew I would not feel comfortable putting her to bed with something in her nose. We took a trip to the pediatrician’s office.

We sat in the exam room waiting for him. He came in, looked, and left to get something to remove it. When he was walking back in the room, it came out on its own.

Her nose had started running like crazy and it just carried it out with it. Our doctor is awesome and didn’t even charge us for the visit. It taught me to leave it alone, keep the child sitting up, and let time work. However, if it didn’t come out rather quickly on its own, I would definitely visit the doctor to have it removed.

Nose Picking

Nose picking is pretty common and pretty normal. It can cause problems by forcing bacteria further into the nose. The book suggests talking to your doctor if it becomes a big problem.

Something I found interesting is a doctor in Austria says picking your nose and eating it “is a great way of strengthening your body’s immune system” (page 102)–he says the bacteria found in the buggers acts like medicine when it reaches your intestines. I found that amusingly interesting and thought I would share. 

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5 thoughts on “Concerns About Your Baby’s Nose”

  1. I am laughing about the "eating buggers" tidbit… our kids will all be excited to tell us "but MOM it's GOOD for you!" when we ask them to use a tissue. Haha… so gross! and so funny!

  2. this is totally unrelated to this particular post you just wrote, but I just wanted to say thank you so much for all of the work you have put into this baby wise blog. I did baby wise with my first child, and now with the 2nd child I have birthed. I just love it and your blog has been such a great resource for me (especially the starting solids). 3.5 years is a long time to remember what you did with the first and I needed some reminders. I can tell you are a wonderful mom, thank you for being an example and encouragement to other moms. God Bless


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