There’s nothing quite as adorable as watching your brand-new bundle of joy stretching, yawning, cooing, and, of course, letting out a tiny “achoo!” But we get it; it can be a little nerve-wracking. Still, here’s the good news – those baby sneezes are perfectly normal.
Dr. Rachel Schlueter, a pediatrician from Omaha, NE, explains it well: “Just like hiccups, sneezing is a normal response to neurological signals in babies. As they adapt to life outside the womb, these responses are common and generally not a cause for concern.”
So, why are these newborns sneezing up a storm? Well, it’s all part of the natural process. Those sneezes help them clear their little noses of germs and any other pesky particles. It’s like their built-in defense mechanism for respiratory illnesses. So, most of the time, it doesn’t mean they’ve caught a cold.
These little ones are adjusting to their new surroundings, and that means dealing with all the dust and other tiny irritants in the air. It’s natural for us to get a little alarmed, associating sneezing with allergies or sickness, but in most cases, there’s no need to worry.
Here are a few tips if your baby seems to be sneezing a lot:
- Avoid scented candles or air fresheners with harsh chemicals.
- Consider using air purifiers to clean the air in your home.
- Keep your home clean by vacuuming regularly, especially if you have pets.
- Houseplants can act as natural air purifiers, but make sure they’re out of reach for little explorers.
Now, what’s behind all this sneezing? There are a bunch of reasons, and not all of them point to colds or allergies. Many times, it’s just their way of dealing with irritants or clearing their nasal passages. Others might sneeze due to inflammation.
But there’s something cool going on in their little bodies. Sneezing is part of the body’s natural process to clear the respiratory system. And believe it or not, there’s a sort of “sneeze center” in the brain. Researchers believe there’s a spot near the base of the brain, like an air traffic controller, that directs nerves in what to do. When those tiny nasal hairs, called cilia, get irritated by things like dust or smoke, they send a signal through the vagus nerve to the “sneeze center.” From there, it’s like a coordinated effort involving the lungs and the vagus nerve to prep for a sneeze. Imagine your baby’s lungs filling with air and then a powerful contraction to expel air, mucus, germs, and dust at around 100 miles per hour.
But the bottom line is, your newborn knows exactly what to do when their little noses start to tickle.
If your baby is sneezing along with other symptoms, like a fever, it’s time to give your healthcare provider a call. The main goal is to rule out any serious infections since newborns’ immune systems are still in the early stages of development.
Here are some signs to watch for:
- Runny nose
If it’s just a common cold or something similar, here are some tips to ease their symptoms:
- Make sure they stay hydrated.
- Run a humidifier to combat dry air, which can irritate their delicate noses.
- Use a bulb syringe to clear their little noses.
- Ask your doctor about using nasal saline drops.
In most cases, newborn sneezing is perfectly normal, and there’s no need to worry. But if your baby is sneezing along with other symptoms, especially a fever, it’s always a good idea to touch base with your healthcare provider. For babies under three months, a fever is considered a medical emergency.