How to Break Up Chest Congestion in a Toddler

Chest congestion can be tough on toddlers. Parents can help put their tots at ease by reducing uncomfortable symptoms.


Babies and toddlers get as many as 8 to 10 colds a year before turning 2 years old, according to WebMD. Chest congestion is one of the most common side effects of an upper respiratory illness, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for the common cold and most parents are forced to deal with the side effects at home. The good news? Parents can break up chest congestion in toddlers (and clear your baby’s mucus) so their little ones can breathe easy.

What the Experts Say

It’s never fun when your tot gets sick. Hearing your child’s chest ratting as they cough and wheeze can leave parents heartbroken. While you might not be able to completely cure your child’s cold, you can help them feel better. Here’s what some experts have to say about breaking up chest congestion in toddlers.

“Add a vaporizer to your baby’s room. It helps to add the required moisture to the nasal tract of babies which reduces the breathing difficulty associated with chest congestion.”

Bumps n Baby, Home Remedies for Babies, Toddlers and Kids


“Rub your child’s chest with 10% lavender or mallow oil. For coughs, use chest rubs with or without hot, moist compresses.”

Michaela Glockler, A Guide to Child Health


“With any illness, fluid intake needs to be increased. Giving your toddler extra fluids when they have chest congestion can help thin out the mucus in the airways. This helps them breathe better.”

New Kids Center, Home Remedies for Toddler Chest Congestion


“To recuperate your child needs to rest. The immune system is already weak and the body uses all the strength to get better. Lack of rest will only make the healing process slower.”

Bumps N Baby, 22 Home Remedies for Chest Congestion in Babies and Kids


“An upright position can aid your toddler in keeping her chest clear. Prop her up on a couch or chair during the day. Pillows behind the back work well for creating a comfortable upright position. At night, prop up the end of your toddler’s mattress for an elevated sleeping position by tucking rolled towels under the head of the mattress.”

ModernMom, Toddler Chest Congestion Remedies


Serve Up Plenty of Liquids

One of the best things you can do for your congested toddler is to offer him plenty of liquids. Fluids help thin out the mucus in the nose and chest which encourages it to drain out of the body. Of course, it’s not always easy to get tots to drink lots of water. You may also want to try fluids in the form of popsicles, warm soup, or apple juice.

Use a Humidifier at Night

Like liquids, steam also helps loosen mucus in the body and clear up chest congestion. Place a humidifier in your toddler’s room to create a warm mist for a more restful night’s sleep.

If possible, close your toddler’s door and windows to trap in the vapor. If you can’t get ahold of a humidifier, create a makeshift sauna by allowing the shower to run until it steams up the bathroom.

Offer a Spoonful of Honey

Honey is a natural product that contains antioxidants that can soothe sore throats and provide relief from colds and coughs. Offer your toddler ½ teaspoon of honey daily to help lessen symptoms. You should avoid giving honey to children under the age of one, according to, due to the risk of botulinum, a serious condition caused by bacteria known as clostridium botulinum.

Colds, flu, and allergies can all contribute to congestion in toddlers. While chest congestion is usually nothing to worry about, it can make both you and your toddler miserable for several days to weeks. Make the best of a bad situation by offering your little one plenty of fluids, rest, and love.


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Liz Coyle

Liz is a Scottsdale-based writer and mom to a three-year old boy. She is a lover of cooking, travel, and racing hot wheels with her son. As the mom of an only child, Liz has a unique perspective on parenting. She loves to share her experiences of being a high strung, type a mom in an imperfect world.

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