When is the Right Time for a Child to Learn to Blow Their Nose?

Video when should a child be able to blow their nose

If there’s one task that parents can’t wait for their children to take over, it’s clearing out the mucus from their adorable little noses. But when can you expect them to be able (and willing) to do it?

The answer isn’t set in stone. While many kids are developmentally ready to learn this skill by the age of 2, others may not master it until they are 7 or 8. The timing will largely depend on your child’s willingness to give it a try.

Signs of Readiness

1. Interest: If your child shows interest in blowing their nose, for example, by imitating you, take the opportunity to encourage and guide them. Hold a tissue to their nose, instruct them to close their mouth, and pretend to blow out birthday candles using their nose. It’s important to emphasize gentle blowing, as forceful nose blowing can cause mucus to travel back into the middle ear or sinuses, increasing the risk of infection.

2. Lack of Interest: If your child shows no interest in learning to blow their nose, it becomes crucial to keep their nasal passages clear, especially if they have a cold. To do this, put a drop of saline solution (available at pharmacies) in each nostril. In most cases, your child will naturally snort or sneeze to clear their nostrils. If not, you can gently suction their nose using a rubber bulb syringe or another nasal aspirator device.

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No matter where your child is on their nose-blowing journey, here are some tried and tested methods shared by parents that can help you teach and encourage this essential skill.

Make Nose Blowing Fun

  • “My son and I have a little game where we talk about different animals that might be hiding up his nose. For example, we try to get the hippos out of his nose. Sometimes, I challenge him by saying I can blow harder than he can. That usually gets him to do it.” — Anonymous

  • “To make it more playful, I used to exaggerate the blowing noise through my nose and turn it into a game. When cold season arrived, and they needed to blow their noses, I would remind them of the fun blowing noises we made.” — Anonymous

  • “Encourage your child to snort like a bull or breathe out forcefully like The Hulk. You can tailor the characters or creatures to match their interests.” — Highwaygal

  • “One day, I took a tissue, held it to my nose, and did a fake ‘achoo!’ for my 3-year-old to see. After that, he played along and actually blew his nose!” — rogers&badge

  • “We used to tell our daughter to ‘scare’ us. If we initially got a feeble blow, we would say it wasn’t scary enough, and she would try again!” — Anonymous

Make Nose Blowing Easier

  • “To help my kids grasp the concept by age 3, I asked them to put their fingers under their noses and pretend to tickle them with air from their nose. When they were sick, I instructed them to do the same thing but with more force, into a tissue. They caught on quickly.” — mom-of-more

  • “Since my son found tissues uncomfortable after a while, we switched to using a handkerchief, old cloth diapers, or even a small bandana. If your child is willing to wipe their nose, that’s a great start.” — rockyroad

  • “When my daughter was 3, she would always say ‘Mommy, I can’t!’ when I asked her to blow her nose. Out of desperation, I told her to ‘snort.’ It worked! She couldn’t ‘blow’ her nose, but she sure could ‘snort!'” — Anonymous

  • “First, I held a tissue in front of my mouth and blew on it to make it move. Then, I did the same thing with my nose. Finally, I asked my son to give it a try. Seeing the tissue move seemed to click in his little head.” — French32

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Practice Makes Perfect

  • “To practice, place a cotton ball on a table and have your child blow it across the table using their nose. Once they have mastered that, ask them to do the same thing into a tissue.” — MotherG

  • “A breathing exercise that worked well for all my kids was teaching them how to take a big breath in with their mouth wide open, then closing their mouth and breathing out through one nostril while plugging the other with their finger. Repeat the process for the other side.” — Moonmom

  • “I taught my son how to blow bubbles in the bathtub with his nose. This helped him understand how to blow air out of his nose and eventually got him to blow his nose into a tissue.” — overtheradar

Provide Nose-Blowing Models

  • “We’ve been teaching our 17-month-old by example. He copies everything we do, so we began by showing him how to blow on dandelions and hot food. Eventually, we got him to blow through his nose.” — cashmommy06

  • “I encourage my child to blow their nose like a horn, just the way Daddy does it.” — Anonymous

  • “While shopping, I stumbled upon a box of tissues decorated with Spiderman, my son’s favorite character. I bought it and explained that Spiderman uses tissues to blow his nose. It worked like magic! If you can’t find your child’s favorite character, you can wrap a tissue box in blank paper and add stickers of their beloved character. You can even turn it into an engaging activity to do together.” — Dramamama2

  • “When I tell my kids that blowing their nose will make them more of a ‘big girl’ or ‘big boy,’ it does the trick. I emphasize how ‘big’ it makes them feel when they do it. Since they always wanted to be like Mom and Dad, this strategy works like a charm!” — Anonymous

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Motivate with a Little Fun

  • “I drew a monster face on a bulb syringe, and if my kids didn’t blow their noses, I’d hum the theme from Jaws and pretend to chase them with it. The chase amused them, and just the thought of the aspiration was enough to send them running for a tissue.” — QueenArthur

  • “If my daughter didn’t blow her nose, I would take the nose aspirator bulb and demonstrate it myself. After experiencing how uncomfortable it was, she started to blow her nose. I would hold the tissue and say, ‘Go!’ If she gave a good blow, we would celebrate.” — Momandmore

Visual Aids for Nose Blowing

  • “My 4-year-old grandson used to sniff up instead of blowing out. So, I held a handheld mirror in front of his face and showed him what happens when he blows out. He loved it! Now he understands the results of blowing out and uses tissues accordingly.” — Denver433

  • “What helped my preschooler was standing in front of a mirror and watching as the mucus came out when she blew her nose. I would cheer her on and say, ‘Look! Here’s the booger! Keep blowing!’ Then, she could wipe it off. Now, she cooperates much better when I ask her to blow her nose.” — Anonymous

  • “As gross as it sounds, every time my 3-year-old daughter blows her nose, I say, ‘Let’s blow your nose and see what comes out.’ She’s always fascinated by inspecting the tissue afterward, and I believe it’s a good opportunity for her to learn about her body in a straightforward manner.” — pillowsH

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Remember, patience is key when teaching your child to blow their nose. Each child is different, and they will learn at their own pace. Celebrate their progress, and soon enough, they’ll master this important skill. For additional information and resources, visit 5 WS.

The 5 Ws and H are questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering or problem solving. 5ws.wiki will best answer all your questions

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