Trying to figure out how to teach a toddler to blow their nose? As far as important life skills go, learning to blow your nose is fairly necessary and yet most parents discover it is also surprisingly difficult.
A snotty toddler is a literal mess with a free flowing nose that we have to wipe all day long. It’s gross, it spreads germs, and it’s frustrating for parents chasing toddlers around the room with tissues.
But what seems so simple, teaching kids to blow their own nose, can be astonishingly challenging.
For babies and young toddlers who can’t yet blow their nose, we have tips for relieving congestion naturally (read them here).
Wondering at what age can a child blow their nose?
Around 2, most toddlers can start to learn to blow their own nose, though it can take a while to really get the hang of it.
Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.
Tips For How To Teach A Toddler To Blow Their Nose
So how do you get a toddler to blow their nose? Here are the best tips and tricks for getting toddlers to blow their nose:
Practice While They’re Not Sick
Most parents, myself included, wait until our toddler is sick to even think about teaching them to blow their nose. Then after our failed attempts, we wait until the next illness to try again.
Finally another mom told me I should practice with my child when he was feeling well, and it was a total light bulb moment for me. It suddenly seemed obvious that trying to learn and practice a new skill while sick was making it much more difficult.
It turns out that blowing your nose requires some coordination that we take for granted, but kids need to learn. Practicing these skills while they’re feeling well instead of sick can really help figure out what they need to do.
The main skills to practice are recognizing inhale and exhale and isolating the mouth and nose. Check the next tips to see how to practice these skills.
Mouth Versus Nose
A common issue parents have when trying to get kids to blow their nose is that they blow air out of the mouth instead.
Practicing breathing through the nose and mouth separately can help kids identify the feeling of each.
This can be so super simple that calling it “practicing” seems silly, like having them close their mouth and breathe through their nose, then holding their nose and breathing through their mouth. Putting their hand on their mouth can help them remember to keep it closed when practicing breathing through the nose. – close mouth, make tissue or feather or cotton ball move
Blowing Versus Sucking
If your child is anything like mine, you hold the tissue and tell them to blow their nose and instead they just sniff in. In my frustration I just repeat “blow out” and again they sniff in and the cycle just continues to repeat until I lose my mind.
It took me way too long to figure out that they don’t understand what I mean. They don’t yet know the difference between blowing and sucking air.
The good news is that this is an easy thing to practice (when they aren’t sick) so that when the next cold strikes they’ll be more prepared.
A fun way to show kids the difference between blowing out and sucking in is to use a mirror. Put their nose right up next to the mirror and have them blow out and see the fog it creates on the mirror. This can help them visualize if they are blowing out or sucking in.
Practicing nose blowing in front of a mirror can also help the child see what it looks like to blow their nose and associate that feeling with the action.
Practice Blowing Nose Activities
Making it a fun game is a great way for kids to learn and practice blowing through their nose.
The simplest way is pretend play. The kids pretend they are sick and practice blowing their nose that way. This repeated action while they are feeling well can help them remember how to do it when they’re sick.
You can also make an actual game out of it. Use something very light like a tissue, cotton ball, or feather and push it across a table by blowing air through their nose. You can even race each other to see who can get theirs to go farther or the fastest.
Does this feel ridiculous? Absolutely, but kids usually find it hilarious and fun and it’s fantastic nose-blowing practice.
Model Nose Blowing
Toddlers love to mimic so make sure you are showing your kid how to blow their nose. Let them see you do it. Make a point to tell them what you’re doing. It feels weird to narrate in detail, but it can help your child understand what’s going on behind the tissue.
Saying something like “I’m blowing my nose, I blow the air out my nose into the tissue.”
Toddlers learn a lot by copying your behavior.
Coach Them Through It
Give some direction, encouragement, and praise for nose blowing attempts.
While learning and practicing nose blowing I find giving gentle reminders are helpful and often necessary.
Remind them to close their mouth to force air through the nose. Touching the end of the nose lightly with the tissue can be another gentle reminder.
A reminder to blow instead of sniff can also help. Blow out like birthday candles or a dragon blowing fire.
Then praise them for their efforts and be sure to tell them how great of a job they did! Keep the whole experience fun and positive to avoid frustrations for everyone!
What Do You Do When Your Toddler Won’t Blow Their Nose?
Sometimes a child refuses to blow nose even after they have learned how. This can be really frustrating for parents as well.
Try to keep it fun and positive, putting pressure on nose blowing can push some toddlers to dig into their opposition.
Consider that they may be reluctant if blowing their nose is uncomfortable.
Remind them not to blow too hard.
A raw nose from frequent wiping is sure to hurt. In that case, using extra soft tissues of Boogie Wipes which are very gentle could help alleviate the problem.
So there’s our best tips for how to teach a toddler to blow their nose. Hopefully it helps avoid some precious, snot crusted faces.
Did we miss anything? Do you have any tricks to get kids to blow their nose? Share your tips in the comments!