My 4-year-old son just started to get sick and he has lot of snot in his nose. He doesn't quite understand how to blow his nose yet, but when he tries he gags. Is there anything that I can do for him without having to go to the store (everything is closed)?
If you have a suction device (a blue bulb syringe or similar used on babies to clear secretions), this is relatively easy to do. You can increase the effectiveness of this by instilling a few drops of saline solution (one tsp table salt to two cups warm water) in each nostril with the head tilted back, then suction. Repeat several times per day.
Steam is fine for kids of all ages. The safest is to just put them in a bathroom with the shower running hot, steaming up the room. (keep them away from the hot water.) It will loosen secretions and make them easier to blow or suction out.
Increase fluids, both by drinking more and humidifying the air (a kettle on the stove helps.) This will thin secretions making blowing the nose easier.
Practice nose blowing. Exhale through the nose holding one side closed, then the other. If he gags, he's probably inhaling the mucous. Practice.
Use the very softest tissues you can find. Nothing is worse than blowing your nose when it's raw. You can also protest the nostrils by applying a bit of vaseline or bacitracin to the outside and underside of the nose.
Don't make this a power struggle. If he chooses not to blow his nose, he lives with a stuffy nose.
It seems horrible until you get into a situation like this, but the NoseFrida is a life-saver.
If you happen to have wintergreen oil, rubbing it on his chest will usually decongest. However, it may sting and is hard to get used to as a child. I speak from experience.
In addition, boiling water/showering and breathing in the steam is helpful, but I would not recommend it for just 4 years old, as it may be a safety hazard.