Chest Congestion in Babies: 15 Safe Home Remedies


Baby Chest Congestion: Treatment and How to Avoid

Chest congestion in infants and toddlers can be very distressing for parents as children cannot be given cough syrups before the age of 6. So, how to relieve babies and toddlers from chest congestion naturally?
Though we cannot replace the medical consultation, the home remedies help in some relief to your child from congestion. Here we have made a list of natural and safe home cures for treating Chest Congestion in children. Note that, all these remedies have been categorized according to child’s age.

Safe Home Remedies to Treat Chest Congestion in Babies and Toddlers

To decongest the congested chest of your child, whether he is suffering from the wet cough or a dry cough, here is some mucus (phlegm) clearing remedies:
• For children of all ages
• For babies less than 6 months of age
• For babies equal to 6 or greater than 12 months of age

A.] Chest Congestion Remedies: For Kids of All Ages

1. Vaporizer

Methods to follow:
A vaporizer (warm mist) can melt the dried mucus inside respiratory tracts. It can also help in thinning down the thick mucus. However, vaporizer must not be used if your baby has dry coughs. In that case, use a cool-mist humidifier.
You can switch on vaporizer nearby your child’s head for up to 10- 20 minutes. Use it when your baby is asleep this way, he won’t feel uneasy with it. Keep the vaporizer out of children’s reach.
The essential oils that can be used with a vaporizer for clearing congested chest are:
 Peppermint Oil
 Lavender Oil and;
 Rosemary Oil.
Regularly change and fill in the vaporizer with filtered water, as molds can grow on their water tanks, overnight.
You can buy Newnik Vaporizer, but don’t place child’s face on it. Use the vaporizer on the face, for your own beauty care regimes.

Steam in Bathroom for Young Babies
Your child could also take a steam the natural way. If you have got a solar water heater or a geyser installed in your bathroom then close the bathroom, turn on the hot shower.
Place a bucket below your shower and drop peppermint, lavender, or rosemary oil into it. Make your baby rest his head on your shoulder, cover the top of his head with a towel and make him take steam naturally for about 10 minutes.

2. Humidifier

Methods to follow:
Humidifier (cool mist) can lubricate the mucus stuck inside the nose and chest.
Difference between vaporizer and humidifier is, vaporizer generates the hot steam and humidifiers generate the cool mist. You can use vaporizer for few minutes and result is instant whereas the humidifier is for overnight and work slowly. Even if you use a vaporizer, a humidifier is still recommended as it will work for longer effect. The baby will inhale the humid air containing essential oil particles throughout the night.
Read more about Humidifiers Benefits for Babies here
It is said that dry air, chimney (cooking) smoke, vehicular emission and other such things, can damage the cilia situated at our air passageways. When cilia get tampered, the mucus stays in our lungs and from there it can cause the common cold, chest congestion, and respiratory diseases too.
Hence humidifier can be used on a daily basis at home. On doing so, regularly change and fill in the humidifier with filtered water, as molds can grow on their water tanks, overnight.
Besides using peppermint, lavender and rosemary oil, here are another three safe essential oils to use with vaporizer and humidifiers. They are:
 Chamomile Oil
 Basil Oil and;
 Tea tree Oil

NOTE: Children suffering from Asthma should not be exposed to the cool mists of humidifiers.

Tips to Remember:
Always use distilled/ filtered water, instead of tap water when using vaporizers or humidifiers. This way mold will not grow quickly overnight and easy cleaning of their water tanks would be possible.

3. Slope Hill Sleeping Position

Methods to follow:
You should make your baby sleep in a slanting position. Arrange the pillows, cushions, and bolsters, between the mattress in such a way that you form a little slope inside his crib. Make your baby sleep as if he is sleeping on a beach chair. (With Angle of 25-30 Degrees)

This step will encourage, mucus clearance through the nose.
Such a position will also provide proper support to both his neck and spine. Unlike the ‘head elevating’ position, where instead of one pillow a baby is made to sleep on two piled up pillows.

Tips to remember:
If you don’t have vaporizers at home, you can drop few drops of, any of the essential oils like eucalyptus, chamomile and lavender oil on his pillow.

4.Body Massage

baby massage for chest congestion

Methods to follow
Body massages are therapeutic for the body, as all our body parts are interconnected with each other via several nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. On merely massaging the toe fingers you can control the mucus production made by sinus, situated at the bridge (center) of your forehead.
You should light-handedly massage your child’s chest, neck, back, and his feet’s soles with our chest decongesting body massage oil mixture:

Mustard with Garlic and Carom Seeds Massage Oil

 For making this, heat the mustard oil first. Then add crushed and chopped garlic and carom seeds into it.
 Keep on heating the oil in medium flame until the garlic pieces get brown in color. Turn off the burner, let the hot oil cool down a bit.
 Then massage your baby with it, same as stated above.

Tips to remember:
Before applying the oil, better check its temperature with the knuckles of your finger. You should apply moderately warm temperature oil on him, not hot oil.

5. Natural Vapor Rubs

Methods to follow:
Usually, vapor rubs are used during the common cold, but it also must be used during chest congestion, whether or not you’re his congestion is accompanied by common cold.

We are suggesting you, homemade natural vapor rubs, as the commercially manufactured vapor rubs, are not suitable for children less than 6 years of age.

The air that we breathe in, through nose enters our lungs. And your child’s lungs can get cleared, only when he would take in the smell of our mucus clearing vapor rub.

Natural DIY Vapor Rub

For making this, you will need Coconut Oil and Eucalyptus Oil. In a bowl, mix the two oils, in equal proportion. Apply it on your child’s chest, back, neck and feet’s sole before his bedtime.
Tips to remember:
After applying this DIY natural vapor rub on his feet’s sole, make him wear the cotton cloth socks. This way, the oils won’t get evaporated in the air quickly.

6. Nose Clearing Massage

Methods to follow
Like we said, the nose is closely connected with lungs. This is why nose massaging is also necessary, but there is a certain way of massaging nose. Hence we decided to write about those certain ways, separately:
 Start the massage by first rubbing the vapor rub in a circular motion on the sides of his nose. The side of the nose (i.e. ala, wings of the nose) means the part where nose pins are usually worn.
 Then try lifting up the nose from both its sides with your fingers.
 Move up, towards your nasal (nose) bone, part of the nose present between your eyes. Again try to lift up your child’s nose from there, push it up. But take care of your child’s eyes while doing this.
 Then move up, towards the eyebrows of your child. Massage the part where his eyebrows line starts. Don’t massage his eyebrows but the part just above it.
 At last, massage his two little ear lobes that also have an influence on sinus production.

Tips to Remember
Mucus production is done naturally by our body, but mucus is produced the most by the sinuses present at our nose’s region. Hence it would be a good idea to massage your baby’s nose daily. So that mucus doesn’t clog his nose and lungs too.

7. Poultices/Potli for Chest Congestion


For clearing mucus from child’s chest, poultices (called as Potli in India) are also used. This is nothing but food items like seeds/ garlic kept in a piece of cloth and tied to keep it together.
For Infants use, we recommend a poultice made with one ingredient only, as your baby might not be able to bear the smell of more of such strong smelling ingredients.
I. Onion Poultice
For toddlers use:
I. Carom Seeds and Garlic Poultice and;

For making Onion Poultice: onions

 Peel and cut the onion in to pieces. Then add in a pan filled with water.
 Boil the same for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid and spread the onion on a paper towel (or kitchen/dish towel), pat it dry to take out the extra water.
 Now take a clean cotton cloth (or kitchen/dish towel) and pour the boiled onion over it.
 Make its poultice by getting hold of all the four corners of the towel. Thereby giving it a shape of an electric bulb, shape of a ball, in simple language.
boiled onions

In order to make Carom Seed’s Poultice:
 Roast carom seeds and crushed garlic together. Roast it until garlic gets brown in color.
 Then take a cotton cloth (or kitchen/dish towel) and pour all the mixture into it.
 Make its poultice by grabbing the all the four corners of the paper towel together, thereby giving it the shape of an electric bulb. In other words, make a little ball out of it. Then dab it on your child’s chest at night.
ajwain garlic potli

How to use Poultices?
Above we told you about how to make poultices for chest congestion. This is to tell you how to use poultices on children’s chest.
 Don’t immediately use the hot poultice on your baby’s chest. Let the stuffing inside cool down for at least 5-10 minutes.
 When it is of room temperature, dip the same poultice in a bowl of warm water. Squeeze excess water.
 Before using it, apply petroleum jelly or olive oil on your baby’s chest. This is to avoid getting hot burns.
 You can even use it dry without dipping it in water.
 Dab / Press the poultice all over his chest. Keep on moving it on his chest, for about 10-20 minutes. Then let him sleep.

Tips to remember:
You might want to skip using poultice if he has a fever as usage of poultice involves dabbing. I.e. slight pressing of the poultice against the body. Dabbing is also a form of massaging only and he might feel more uneasy with it.
In such a case, you should apply something which simply involves wiping, not dabbing. Remember wiping doesn’t mean rubbing. Wiping is done with a light hand, just like a painter sophistically, paints a canvas with his paint brush.
As a substitute of poultices, you can prepare a bay leaf- water mixture. By boiling some dried bay leaves on water. Take a cotton clean cloth, dip it into the mixture, wring. Then lightly wipe his chest, neck, back and feet.
You could also use apple cider vinegar on him, using cotton balls.
When such liquid solutions will evaporate in air, he will feel cool. This might somehow help in reducing his body temperature.

8. Hydrate

Methods to follow:
With water, you can thin down the thick mucus collected in the lungs. Babies can be kept hydrated with breast-milk, as breast milk contains about 80-90 percent of water.
Whereas, toddlers can be kept hydrated with herbal juices, teas, and soups etc.

Tips to remember:
Don’t try to give water to babies under 6 month as water is strictly a complete no-no for them.
Salt water gargles should be done only when advised by your child’s doctor. Moral, don’t try to be his doctor on your own.

B.] Chest Congestion of Breastfed Babies (Under 6 months old)

Along with practicing the 8 home remedies above, you cure your infant’s chest congestion by:

9. Frequent Breastfeeding

breastfeeding a new born

Since no food can be given to babies less than 6 months old, babies only medium of nutrient is his mother’s breastmilk only. Breastmilk besides being nutritive also contains antibodies that protect baby’s immune system by fighting germs. Hence you carry out his regular feeding sessions, anyhow.

Tips to remember:
During chest congestion, many babies refuse to feed, but you will have to make an effort for breastfeeding him. You could also try using breast pumps for this.

10. Chest Shoulder Sleeping Session

Methods to follow:
You should let your baby sleep on your shoulder to clear his blocked nose. While he sleeps keep on gently patting his back, at little intervals.

Tips to remember:
Doing this inside a room with vaporizer or humidifier installed would be more effective.

C.] Chest Congestion for babies more than 7 months old

Since toddlers are at a risk of choking. Hence we haven’t included any such ingredient in our remedies with which, your child could potentially choke. Hence along with breastfeeding, you could give him:

11. Mix Veg Soup:

Methods to follow:
Vegetable soup broth is also capable of healing chest congestion in older babies and toddlers. For making vegetable soup you can include mucus clearing, veggies like:
 Carrot
 Tomato
 Ginger
 Garlic
 Onion
 Potato
 Green Beans
 Peas and;
 Bottle Gourd, etc.
As per your choice, you can season the same soup can be seasoned with chest congestion healing spices and herbs like:
 Black Pepper Powder
 Bay Leaf
 Fennel Powder
 Cayenne Pepper Powder
 Dried Thyme Powder

Tips to Remember:
 Don’t forget to add salt for taste and clarified butter (ghee) or unsalted butter to it.
 After all the vegetable gets soft and cooked, you can strain it. But if your child has properly learned to chew things, then don’t. Still, if you are unsure, you can add grated vegetables like carrot, potato, and bottle gourd in the soup. This is to avoid choking hazard.
 Give them this vegetable soup, 1-2 hours before dinner.

12. Chicken Soup:

chicken soup

Methods to Remember:
Use fresh chicken with bones to cure your child’s chest congestion. Along with this, you should prefer adding the vegetables and spices above, as per your baby’s liking. When chicken meat would seem to fall off from its bone, this would indicate that the chicken is cooked properly.

Tips to Remember:
 You can strain the same chicken soup, for getting pure chicken broth. And if your child can properly chew things, then don’t.
 Another important tip, read the important tips written above.

13. Lady Finger/Okra:


Methods to follow:
For healing chest congestion, Okra (Lady Finger) is relied upon due to its probiotic mucilage content. The slimy part of Okras is known to be its mucilage.

For making its drink:
 First thinly cut the lady finger into thin slices.
 Then drop its slices into boiling water. This also means you should first boil the water and then add okra slices into it.
 Brew it for up to 5-10 minutes. Since they are soft vegetables, they will get quickly cooked. Let the okra steep for up to 10 minutes. Means let it remain inside the water for 15 minutes.
 After this strain the mixture and spoon feed this mixture to your baby, in between small gaps of time. Approximately, after 30-60 minutes.

Tips to remember:
Add little of black pepper powder, for boosting its goodness. Black pepper powder is also said to be congestion clearing.

14. Fenugreek Seeds /Methi Tea:

fenugreek seeds

Methods to follow:
The mucilage content, about which we talked about above, is present in fenugreek too. Fenugreek Tea for chest congestion can be made very easily. Boil fenugreek seeds in water for 15-20 minutes. Then, let the seeds steep for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture and give it to your baby, little by little in a gap of 30-60 minutes.

Tips to remember:
For reducing its bitterness, you could add lemon juice in the tea.

15. Pineapple Cough Syrup

homemade cold syrup

Methods to follow:
Pineapple is one surprising cough suppressant as it is rich in Bromelain, which fights bacteria and dissolves the extra mucus in lungs. For making this sweet tangy tasting, homemade cough syrup you will need:
 Fresh Pineapple pieces (Don’t buy the canned ones)
 Lemon Juice
 Ginger Juice
 Black Pepper Powder
Firstly blend the pineapple to make its juice. Strain it. Then mix lemon and ginger juice into it. After this add black pepper powder and mix the concoction well. Give it to your child, three times a day- one spoon in the morning, one in afternoon and other one at night before sleeping.

Tips to remember:
 Make a fresh stock of syrup, every day in the morning. Store the rest of it inside the fridge.
 Before giving him the second dose of syrup, take it out of the fridge 30 minutes earlier. So that the syrup reaches its room’s temperature.

Other Things to Care of:

 Wash your hands properly, at regular intervals. I.e. before and after medicating your child with our home remedies.
 After washing your hands, dry it with a paper towel, instead of using any regular hand towel. That’s because after being used germs can continue living on cloth towels. Also with paper towels, your hands will dry faster.
 Sanitize your child’s hands too. As many children unknowingly insert their hands or fingers, inside one’s mouth. Some even have a habit of rubbing their eyes with it.
 For toddlers, teach them to cough and sneeze on handkerchiefs.
 Until they get fully recovered, better keep their stuffed toys away from them. Soon as they get well, wash and give it back to them.

Tips for avoiding Chest Congestion in future

 You should always get alerted when they first get cold. This nasal congestion can take the form of chest congestion. And chest congestion if left untreated can cause bronchiolitis or pneumonia to your child.
 Since tiny nose of babies and kids have small nose passages too. You should keep on clearing your baby’s nose as he doesn’t know how to blow it. Also along with regular body massage, nose massage is also necessary. Even a little mucus can give him common cold or flu.
 But body massage should be done when he has fever or breathing problems. Breathing problems as in rapid breathing, flaring up of nose’ ala and deep slow breathing, etc.
 Use humidifier in baby’s bedroom every night. It helps keeping respiratory system health.

Causes of Chest Congestion in Growing Children

On an average, it is estimated that growing children until they turn 4 years old, can catch a common cold for about a dozen times. The common cold is one of the main reasons behind chest congestion. Secondly, low immunity in children can invite over several uncommon and common ailments among babies and toddlers. Hence vaccination of babies and providing nutritious food to toddlers is important.
In chest congestion, the mucus accumulated in your child’s lungs finds its way out, by making him cough. Hence along with continuous coughing, if your baby has a runny nose, breathing difficulties, mild fever, if he refuse getting breast fed. You should know these are the common signs and symptoms of chest congestion in babies and kids. Still, along with practicing our safe home remedies, we would say that, you should visit your pediatrician child’s doctor.


About Author


An IT professional, a mom of two, Sapana had belly-only pregnancies in her life & has lost 15Kg weight twice. Along with fitness, Sapana is an expert in Indian names & has helped scores of Indian parents to shortlist suitable baby names by virtue of her years of expertise in Sanskrit origin names & logical approach towards cultures & trends during the name research. Drop a comment to get help from her.


  1. Pingback: Can I Breastfeed My Baby If I Have Fever or Cold? | GoMama 24/7

  2. Avatar

    My baby is 07 months old and he is suffering from chest congestion. Even he can’t sleep properly. I am sacred to give any medicines. What will be the best home remedy for him. Please help

    • Sapana

      Hi Reena

      Please try the slope Hill Sleeping Position to make baby sleep. More he will rest, quicker will be recovery.
      Also use the vaporizer and humidifier with essential oils as given in the post.
      Read this post also: Cold and Cough remedies
      Note: Make sure you try only those remedies according to age given.

    • Sapana

      Hi Ramya,

      Turmeric is safe for babies but I personally think you should avoid it before baby turns 7 months old. the reason is, your baby will be ready for your spices by that age after trying a few first foods. also in case of milk, avoid Cow’s milk before baby turns 1 yr old. So you will have to use breast milk or formula milk for the turmeric+milk remedy. Hope this helps.

  3. Avatar

    Eucalyptus Oil in Humidifier is very good remedy. The Humidifiers are necessary for babies anyways. I liked you remedies. Good Work Sapana.

  4. Avatar

    My kid is 06-months old and he is suffering from chest congestion. Can you tell me how often should I massage my baby with Mustard oil with Garlic to get fast relief.

    • Sapana

      Hi Harleen,
      You should first take a patch test of this oil on your baby’s skin. If no bad reaction, start only once in a day. i.e. before bathing, Because you should not leave the oil on skin for long.

  5. Avatar
    Snigdha Deshpande on

    Very good idea of natural vaporub, Its better to use natural ingredients on babies. Chemical contents of vaporubs are harful for baby and adults too

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.