Snot and Eye Junk
What's normal When babies get mucusy, a standard-issue cold is usually to blame -- they average about six a year. However, a constant runny nose might signal allergies to smoke, dust, mold, a pet, or even formula, which can sometimes be treated with medication. Whatever the cause, it makes breathing and eating tough. (Until 6 months, babies breathe almost entirely through their nose.)
What to do Your little guy doesn't know how to blow his nose, so you'll have to extract the boogers. First, squirt a drop of saline solution into each nostril to loosen the mucus.
Then take a bulb syringe -- that small rubber gizmo that probably came with nail clippers -- and squeeze the bulb to let the air out. Insert the tip into your baby's nostril, and slowly release the compressed bulb (watch a tutorial at americanbaby.com/cold-video).
As the bulb expands, it will suck the mucus out. Repeat until the nostril is all or mostly clear and then move on to the other side. Warning: Babies aren't big on this method. Enlist help.
When to call the doc Normal mucus is clear, but green or yellow mucus can sometimes (though not always) be a sign of trouble. In addition to that, watch for other signs of illness, such as blood in the mucus, listlessness, crankiness, or a fever over 100.3° F in an infant younger than 3 months. For older tots, behavior is more important than the number on the thermometer. If your baby has a temp of 102°F but is active, nursing, and wetting his diapers at a normal rate, you don't necessarily need to alert your ped. If he has a temp of 101°F but is irritable, it's worth a call. Also, keep an eye on your sweetie's breathing, which can become labored. "If his belly starts to go up and down very fast, and you can see the muscles straining between the ribs, he is working too hard to breathe," says Dr. Landau. Call the doc right away.
What's normal When white goop or yellow crusties obscure one of your baby's peepers, it may just mean her eye is doing its job. Any irritant -- an errant eyelash, a scratch -- will make the eye produce extra mucus to soothe it or wash out the source of the bother. If the goop goes away on its own in a day or two, no need to worry.
What to do To clear up crustiness, gently wipe it away with a damp, warm cloth. Try eliminating potential allergens like irritating shampoos or a tummy-time blanket that sheds. Avoid cigarette smoke, which can bother Baby's eyes -- and far worse.
When to call the doc If the gunk doesn't go away on its own or if your baby's eyes are bloodshot, she may have conjunctivitis (pink eye), which you can treat with prescription eye drops. If the goop doesn't subside even after you've treated it for several days, "often the eye discharge is caused by a blocked tear duct," Dr. Seru says. "It's not infectious and resolves on its own by age 1 in 98 percent of babies."