How Do You Decongest a Baby?

Medically Reviewed on 12/22/2022

When should I worry about my baby's congestion?

Nose and chest congestion are a common occurrence in babies.
You can decongest your baby with rest, positioning, hydration, a warm bath, and other home remedies.

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.

12 ways to get rid of stuffy nose in a baby

You can decongest your baby in the following ways:

  1. Rest: Adequate rest in warm surroundings will help your baby recover from the bought of the viral flu. Make sure your baby is well covered but not too warm. Over-clothing can cause fever in babies.
  2. Position: Nasal congestion is often worse at night and sleeping while lying down may worsen it even more. Holding your baby upright to your chest may relieve the stuffiness due to gravity. It will also help the baby sleep.
  3. Hydration: Fluids help relieve a parched throat and loosen mucus. Give your baby sips of water throughout the day and making sure they are feeding 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.
  4. Chicken soup: Studies have reported that chicken soup contains ingredients that help thin mucus and relieve congestion. Soups and broths not only keep your child hydrated, but they also replenish nutrients. Soup will not only provide nourishment, but the warmth of the dish will also be soothing, especially if your child has the flu, cold, or cough. Only attempt this in babies over the age of 9 months old.
  5. 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.
  6. Steam inhalation: Steam inhalation will soothe the throat, loosen clogged mucus, moisturize the dry nasal passages, and make breathing easier for the child. You can run a hot shower, let the steam build up, then take your baby in your lap and sit inside for 15 minutes.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Nasal saline drops: These are available over the counter. You can put one to two drops in the baby’s nostrils twice a day. This will lessen nasal stuffiness by loosening the nasal secretions.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Use cotton swabs or tissues: Always keep cotton swabs (especially wet) or tissues handy to wipe away sticky mucus that blocks your baby’s nostrils.

Relieving chest congestion may be trickier. If the baby has a heavily congested chest, the baby may spike a fever, vomit, cough, or may struggle with breathing. If you see that your child is not getting better and their breathing difficulty is worsening, seek urgent medical help.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/22/2022
"Colds and the Flu." Jan. 15, 2019. <>.

"Sinus Pain or Congestion." <>.

"What to Do For Your Baby's Stuffy Nose." Jan. 22, 2019. <>.