How Do You Decongest a Baby?

Reviewed on 12/31/2020

Decongest a baby

Nose and chest congestion are a common occurrence in babies.
Nose and chest congestion is a common occurrence in babies.

Nose and chest congestion is a common occurrence in babies. They especially occur when seasons change or during the winter months. Most cases of nasal congestion are harmless, but in a few cases where the chest is congested and the baby is not taking feeds, is dull, or has a high fever, it is prudent to seek medical consultation.

For children aged younger than 6 months, it is better to seek an opinion of a child specialist for the congestion, especially if it is recurrent. Do not self-medicate a very small child.

You can decongest your baby in the following ways:

  • Rest: An adequate rest in warm surroundings helps the baby recover from the bought of the viral flu. Make sure the baby is well covered but not too warm. Over-clothing can cause fever in babies.
  • Position: Holding your baby upright to your chest may relieve the stuffiness due to gravity. It will also help the baby sleep.
  • Hydration: Make sure the baby is taking feed well. A breastfed child must be fed as usual. If the baby is aged above 6 months, you may give pre-boiled warm water from time to time in addition to bland mashed food, broths, and juices.
  • Warm bath: You can bathe your baby in warm water. This helps distract the baby’s discomfort, and the moist environment will loosen their nasal and chest secretions. You can also run a hot shower and sit in the steamy bathroom with your baby in your lap for 10 minutes a day. Warm moist air relieves nasal, sinus, and chest congestion.
  • Cold mist humidifier: Having a cold mist humidifier in the baby’s room as the baby sleep helps loosen mucus and even soothe the baby’s throat. Make sure the humidifier is regularly cleaned and water is changed from time to time.
  • Avoid irritants: Avoid smoking near your baby, do not use scented candles in the house, keep the pets away from the baby’s room, and vacuum frequently to keep the air around the baby free of nasal irritants.
  • Nasal saline drops: These are available over the counter. You may instill one to two drops in the baby’s nostrils twice a day. This will lessen nasal stuffiness by loosening the nasal secretions.
  • Nasal bulb: You can use a nasal bulb to clear the clogged nose. It is available at pharmacies and has a rubber bulb and plastic tube. Press the bulb and gently stick the tip of the bulb into the child’s nostril. Now slowly release the bulb, and it will pull out clogged mucus. Repeat on the other nostril. Make sure you do not hurt the soft lining of the baby’s nose.
  • Massage: Gently massage their nasal bridge, forehead, temples, and cheekbones. Do not use VapoRub, as it may clog the nasal passages further. For chest congestion relief, you can gently clap your child's back or chest with your cupped hand. Do it quickly and rhythmically. This loosens the mucus, allowing it to drain. Do not clap directly on the skin; cover the area with thin clothing or cloth. Bend your hand at the wrist such that it forms a cup. When you clap, you should hear a hollow “popping” sound.

Relieving chest congestion may be trickier. If the baby has a heavily congested chest, the baby may spike a fever, vomit, and cough or may struggle with breathing. Don't give cough and cold medicines to kids aged below 6 years. Take the child to the doctor.

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