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The majority of children are coordinated enough physically to blow their own nose by age 2 – But many children are not interested in blowing their own nose. They are perfectly content keeping their nasal secretions to themselves. Until your child can clear their nasal passages themselves, make sure that you do it for them. See our article nose suctioning for more information.
If your child does not yet blow their own nose, here are some things you can try to encourage the skill. Once your child has the motivation to blow his nose, teach him not to blow it too forcefully – this can cause secretions to enter the sinuses and middle ears and cause an infection.
- Imitation – show them how you blow your nose. Kids love to be like Mom and Dad, sometimes which is all the encouragement they need.
- Rewards – offer them a sticker or a small reward if they try to blow their nose.
- Imagery – Have them pretend to blow out imaginary birthday candles with their nose. You can go all out and sing happy birthday too, if it helps! You can also suggest that they try and play a pretend horn with their nose, or blow up an imaginary balloon using their nose.
- Make it fun – Supply them with tissues with their favorite cartoon characters on the box, and have a nose blowing contest. See who can blow the quietest, the shortest, the longest, and the funniest.
- Regular use of saline and suction – regular users of saline and suction with a bulb syringe find that telling their child that if they do not blow their nose themselves, that saline and suction will need to be used.
- Mention it at your next well child visit – Mentioning the fact that your child can not blow his own nose to the pediatrician will allow you to tell your child that the doctor thought it best if they learn to blow their own nose. Sometimes it helps if the order comes from the doctor instead of you.
- Work on it when they are healthy – Work on the nose blowing skill while they are healthy by having them blow dandelions, blow bubbles in the bath with their nose, and blow tiny pieces of tissue paper across the table with their nose.
- Go for the gross factor - many kids will blow their nose if you give them a hand mirror and let them see the mucus as it comes out of their nose. If you act really grossed out by the discharge, it adds to the fun and encourages them even more.