I was a bit confused when asked to test a "Brand New Must-Have Baby Product For Combating Congestion" and this arrived, because they've existed here in France for absolutely donkey's years. I had one when Sophie was a baby eight years ago and they certainly weren't a new product then. You can get different types of nasal aspirators - these ones that you suck with your mouth, ones with a squishy bulb at the end to create a vacuum and suck it all out, even electric ones ! But this type are the most popular and commonly-used ones.
Basically, you have a pointy end that you gently shove up baby's nose (not right up there, just at the bottom of the nostril !), attached to a long tube and a mouthpiece that you put in your mouth and suck until you run out of breath. Baby will cry and squeal and wriggle and go into a really big temper tantrum but it will only last a second and, once they've got an unblocked nose, they will feel a lot better. The worst part about babies having colds is that, unlike adults who breathe through their mouths instead and snore through the night, they don't know how to breathe through their mouths so they have great difficulty feeding properly or sleeping. It's more distressing to watch your baby panicking every 30 seconds while feeding because they start suffocating than making them cry for a few seconds while you solve the problem.
Are you now going euurrghhh that's disgusting ? Well wait until you hear the noise it makes when you're sucking bogies out (think NooNoo slurpy noises on the Teletubbies !) and start seeing snotty bits going up the tube !! But console yourself with the thought that it's better out than in and at least you're making baby feel better (even if, red faced and screaming, he doesn't agree with you at the moment !!).
The all-important bit is the filter - whatever you do, don't forget that or you'll be sucking baby-bogies straight up into your mouth and however much you love your little one, that's one experience you really don't want to share !! In the French models I've tried, you just put a plug of cotton wool in, which you then throw away after use (when it's all slimy and bogeyfied !). This model has a filter which sounds like it should work better than a wad of cotton wool but I'm not sure how it will look after being used repeatedly. Looking on the website, you can buy replacement filters for £1.99.
The packaging tells you to wash all the different pieces in warm soapy water after use. I would also add that you should do this straight after use, because once baby-snot has dried, it sticks like glue and you'll have a great job cleaning it out ! (Also, you'll already be feeling a bit squeamish after doing the job, so you might as well finish off the yucky jobs and do the clean-up operation straight away.) One other piece of advice - keep a wetwipe handy when using the aspirator because, at times, you'll suck out an amazingly large (for a baby) bogie that won't go through the hole. You'll need to wipe the tip of the aspirator to get it off and if you use a tissue or a piece of cotton wool, it gets covered in fluff and you have to clean it all off before you can use it again.
"Nasal aspirators are a perfectly natural and safe way of treating nasal congestion in very young babies, without the need for medical referral. Although they are new to the UK, nasal aspirators are widely used throughout Europe and the USA and are considered to be an integral part of natural baby care in those regions." This is certainly true so we've been roadtesting this device for years and can give it a big thumbs-up !
What is new to me is the sister-product, the Baby Nose-Clear Room Vapour. "The Room Vapour is a natural blend of 100% pure and essential gentle oils, including lemon, tea tree and pine oils. The combination of these oils, along with its anti-bacterial properties ensures the Room Vapour eases breathing, by helping to keep the nasal passages clear. Simply add a few drops to a damp towel, put over a radiator or warm bowl of water and the resulting vapour will release into the air, aiding a restful sleep. Alternatively, this product can be used in conjunction with humidifiers and vaporizers."
I was expecting it to smell of Vicks Vapour Rub but it's not quite the same - it actually reminded me more of the new-generation headlice shampoos, which is presumably the tea tree oil. It's not unpleasant but from repeatedly sniffing the bottle to try to work out what it smells of, I am starting to feel a bit headachey so don't overdo it ! As a mum-of-3, I've opened more than my fair share of childproof medicine bottles but I still had a job getting into this one so don't try to do it discreetly in the dark while baby's asleep in his/her cot !
star rating : 5/5 (it's a standard piece of baby kit in any French home and has been for generations !)
Baby nose-clear is available over the counter at £6.99 from large Tesco, Boots and Mothercare stores and some independent pharmacy outlets.
Baby Nose-Clear Room Vapour is priced at £6.99 and is available at Independent Pharmacies, Waitrose.