It’s never fun for parents when toddlers get sick with chest congestion. Chest congestion happens when toddlers catch an upper respiratory illness. The coughing and difficulty breathing can really make them miserable and cough medicine is not recommended for children under the age of six. What do you do? Home remedies for toddler chest congestion are a safe and easy way to relieve their symptoms like coughing, excess mucus, and/or dry cough. This article gives some helpful tips on how to deal with chest congestion in toddlers.

Home Remedies for Toddler Chest Congestion

1.      Increase Fluid Intake

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. Give your toddler clear liquids throughout the day. This will also help prevent dehydration during illness and possibly shorten the course of the illness.

2.      Create Steam

One of the quickest and easiest home remedies for toddler chest congestion is to create steam in a closed room. Go into your bathroom and turn the shower on hot. Close the door and wait a few minutes. As long as your toddler has congestion, take them into the steamy room for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at bedtime. You can also use this method as needed during the day.

3.      Humidify the Air

Dry air promotes congestion because mucus becomes too thick. Use a hot steam humidifier if you have a safe place to keep it so your toddler won’t get burned. If you are afraid of burns, you can get a cool mist humidifier. Keep it in the common areas during the day and use it in your child’s room at night. For added relief, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil during the day and eucalyptus oil with lavender oil at night to help them rest. Make sure you keep your humidifier clean and free of mold and bacteria.

Choosing a Good Humidifier: There is always the question, “which humidifier should I buy for my toddler?” You will want to find the safest and most effective version that will last through a few years of colds and congestion. Here are the types of humidifiers recommended.

4.      Change Sleep Position

Try propping your toddler up in bed. This will help them breathe better during the night. If you have a 2 year old, chest congestion can be relieved this way, just remember it is not recommended to use pillows in a toddler’s bed due to suffocation risk. The best way to solve this issue is you can use the pillows or rolled towels under the mattress. The only issue that may arise is if your toddler flips around in bed at night and his or her feet end up elevated.

5.      Clapping Their Chest

Experts recommend that you cup your hand and lightly clap on their back to help loosen any mucus plugs in their chest area. You can also lightly clap on the front of the chest. This helps release the mucus and helps them cough it up. Try laying your wiggly toddler across your knees on their tummy. You can also have them sit on your lap and slightly forward.

6.      Try Vapor Rub

Try a little vapor rub on the chest area. Make sure you choose a brand that is made for infants and toddlers. The adult version of vapor rub is only safe for kids over 2 years of age. Young toddlers and babies may experience irritation. There are versions of vapor rub that is okay for babies’ age 3 months to 2 years old. This is because the infant version does not contain menthol and camphor, but they do include a small amount of eucalyptus oil. It is also mixed with a little rosemary and lavender.

How to Use Vapor Rub on Toddlers:

  • Chest, Back, and Neck – Just apply a thin layer with your bare hands to the chest, back and neck area. Never warm vapor rub as it can catch fire. Observe for any skin irritation or allergic reactions.
  • Feet – Rub a small amount on your baby’s feet and place socks over them.


  • Do not use on face or near eyes. Never use near the eyes or on the nose or face.
  • Keep away from rashes or open skin. Vapor rub can burn or make a rash worse.
  • Do not use in the vaporizer. It may overheat and catch fire.
  • Do not give by mouth. Vapor rub can be toxic if taken internally.

7.      Increase Vitamin C

Feed your toddler foods that are high in vitamin C. This will help boost the immune system to fight the illness. Give them lots of oranges or orange juice.

8.      Be Careful About Cold Medicines

Always ask your doctor before using cold and cough medicines for toddlers. It is not recommended that toddlers under the age of four have any cough syrup, cold medicine, or antihistamines without the doctor’s permission. They may not be effective and can have serious complications.

Experience of Other Moms About Home Remedies for Toddler Chest Congestion

“When my 2 year old had chest congestion, they had me cup my hand and pat her on the back. This really helped loosen up all the phlegm and she got better within a week. I also used a humidifier in the room she was in and she seemed to rest better.” 

                                                                                                                --Gina, Mom of 2 year old

“I use a vapor “plug-in” in my toddler’s room to get the good aroma in the air. I get the shower going and close the bathroom door. I take him into his room and give him a light coating of baby vapor rub on his chest. Then I take him into the bathroom for 15 minutes. After the steam room, he gets a light coat of vapor rub on his feet with socks. This works perfect!”                                                                          

                                                                                                          -- Betty, Mom of 3 year old