Baby Chest Congestion- Everything You Need to Know!
As a mom, it’s the worst to feel helpless when your baby doesn’t feel well. With technology so readily available, the first thing you’ll likely do is pick up your phone and search for baby chest congestion. So, let’s get started by talking about what baby chest congestion is and what causes it.
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* I am NOT a medical professional. The information I share here is completely based upon my own experiences as a mother. As with any medical decisions you make, you should always consult your physician.
What is baby chest congestion?
Within the respiratory system, there are membranes that create a thick substance called mucus. Chest congestion, in general, is caused by excess mucus in the airways. This excess mucus can cause a rattling sound in the chest as well. Sometimes, you may also notice a wheezing sound as well. When your body is over-secreting mucus, that is what causes the build-up of mucus that causes chest congestion.
Chest congestion in infants can become particularly dangerous when the baby’s ability to breathe becomes labored.
What are the causes of chest congestion?
The common cold is hard to avoid, especially if your kiddos are in childcare outside of your home. It seems like once one kid has something, they are generous and share it with everyone else. The common cold is often the beginning of most chest congestion.
Even though allergies aren’t often diagnosed until after age 2 or 3, kids can show signs of sensitivity to various environmental factors. There isn’t really much you can do to avoid that unless you plan to stay inside all the time.
If your baby already has a compromised immune system, it can be really easy for them to catch whatever is going around. Make sure to avoid people who exhibit any symptoms. Keep your baby comfortable temperature-wise. Try to make sure they get adequate rest as well.
Related Read: How to Survive Infant Colic
Symptoms of Chest Congestion
You will become very aware of your baby’s every move, more than normal if they develop a cough. Having an infant with a terrible cough is gut-wrenching to any parent. They are absolutely pitiful to watch. Keep a close eye on their cough. If it becomes extreme, whether that be labored coughing, or if they seem to be choking, it may be time for a trip to the doctor.
I feel like there are a variety of opinions on this one. My personal opinion with infant wheezing is to take them to the doctor. I feel like babies especially for some reason can quickly have issues with breathing. I would rather pay for a trip to the doctor than an emergency run to the ER. Wheezing sounds like raspy breathing. You’ll notice that their breathing doesn’t sound normal, and you may even notice a rattle in their chest.
Labored breathing in infants is one of the scariest things ever. I made multiple visits to our pediatrician when I experienced it with one of our kids. I feel like there is a REALLY fine line between a kiddo being OK and being a serious situation. Any time I felt uncomfortable, which was like 3 or 4 times, I would call. They would run through a list of serious symptoms that would warrant a visit, and thankfully we didn’t have to make the visit. But, it’s scary and should never be taken lightly.
Lack of appetite
You may notice that your little one doesn’t seem as interested in usual in eating. This is totally normal. Think about it. When you are experiencing chest congestion, it can feel like a lot of work to eat food. Breathing can be a challenge, and eating doesn’t make it any easier. Just don’t be alarmed if they don’t consume as much formula, or drink as much breastmilk. On the other hand, especially if you’re nursing, you may notice that your baby wants to nurse all the time. This could be because the sucking action helps keep the mucus moving, or it could just be because you provide comfort to them when they aren’t feeling well.
Sometimes, your baby may develop a fever when fighting baby chest congestion. If fighting the common cold, they may not develop a fever. If they do develop a fever, monitor it closely and reach out to your pediatrician to see if you need to administer an infant fever reducer, along with the appropriate amount.
Inability to sleep well
Much like you when you’re sick, your baby probably won’t sleep well. The issue lies in the fact they get congested when laying down and it’s super hard for babies to clear out that congestion because they don’t yet know how to make themselves cough to help clear it out. This is trying for you as a parent, but keep in mind to try your best to get some sleep. The last thing you want is to catch what your baby has. All of the tips for helping your baby feel better can apply to you as well.
Types of Infections
A bacterial is an infection that is going to likely require you to take an antibiotic. This medication will help you, or in this case, your baby, fight the infection in order to become well again.
Unfortunately, for a viral infection, there isn’t any specific medication that is going to help your baby becoming better more quickly. This is the type of infection that usually takes time. The best thing you can do to help your baby feel better is to treat the symptoms that are present.
Remedies for Chest Congestion
When I had my first baby and I saw this item listed on the baby registry checklist, I was convinced I wouldn’t need one. Needless to say, thank the Lord for Amazon Prime and free 2-day shipping, because low and behold I needed one. I have used this thing A LOT, and it has been a way for me to help my baby’s breathe and sleep better at night without the constant use of medication. I opted for the slightly more expensive one with more options, such as being able to choose warm or cool steam.
Thankfully, babies usually only have fluids at this young age. If you are doing any type of solids with your baby, you may want to consider stopping those until your baby is beginning to feel better. If you’re able to increase your baby’s fluids, do it!
Pat chest or back
By patting your baby’s chest or back, you’re going to help loosen up the congestion in their little chest. Once the mucus is broken up, it’s going to be much easier for them to clear the congestion out more quickly.
Suction out baby’s nose
If baby nasal congestion becomes an issue, you’ll want to suction out your baby’s nose. Chances are, you’ll reach for the dreaded nose syringe. Although it isn’t fun, it can be effective. The newest tool on the market, however, is something called Nose Frida. Although I haven’t used this product myself, I have friends who SWEAR by this little device. I think you’ll have to get over the visual idea of you literally sucking mucus out of your baby’s nose, but if they feel better, then it’s worth it.
Elevate baby’s head
Keeping the risk of SIDS in mind, if you’re able to safely elevate your baby’s head, this will hopefully help them be able to breathe better. Especially if it’s during the day when you’re able to closely monitor your baby, elevating their little head will help them breathe better and hopefully get some much-needed rest.
If you are nursing your baby, increasing the number of nursing sessions you offer to your baby will certainly be helpful. The reason for this is because when your baby is sucking, that sucking action is helping to keep the fluid inside the nasal passages moving. And, as an added benefit, nursing your baby while sick, whether you or your baby are sick, can help them fight sickness. This is because your breastmilk has antibodies that will help protect your baby if you’re sick, or if just the baby is sick, you’ll pass along antibodies that can potentially help your baby become well again.
Related Post: The BEST Teething Toys for Your Baby
When to call the doctor?
Deciding when to call the doctor is hard. You don’t want to seem like the crazy mom who overreacts to a simple cold, but at the same time your baby is miserable, and you’d do anything to make them feel better. Even if that means calling the doctor and looking like the “crazy, over-reacting mom”. For me, I would call when I felt like there could potentially be an issue with my baby’s breathing. Breathing is obviously REALLY important and any sign of labored breathing in a baby under the age of 1 is a MAJOR concern. Also, keep an eye out for a fever and let that help guide your decision as well. Trust your mom-gut and call if you’re unsure. Always better safe than sorry. If your doctor’s office becomes frustrated with you, it may be time to find a new doctor.
How to prevent infant chest congestion?
Avoid crowded places
One of the best ways to keep your infant healthy is to avoid public places when possible especially during cold and flu season. If you have to be out in public, it’s often recommended to wear your baby or keep them in their car seat. This is because people are often less likely to reach out and touch your baby if you’re right there asking them not to.
Wash your hands often
The best way to stop the spread of germs is to wash your hands thoroughly and often. Use warm water and anti-bacterial soap. Especially be mindful of washing your hands when coughing or using tissues.
Encourage lots of fluids
The best thing you can do for your baby and you is to keep fluid intake high. This is because you don’t want the mucus to remain thick and settled in your baby’s chest or nasal cavity. Keeping more fluids in your system increases your chances of getting rid of the mucus more quickly.
If you aren’t able to wash your hands as frequently as you should hand sanitizer is the next best thing. Flu season is another time when you’ll want to make sure you have hand sanitizer handy. It also isn’t a bad idea to have some anti-bacterial wipes close by for when you do have to go out. Wipe any surface you feel is necessary while you’re out.
Use and dispose of tissues
I feel like I should take up stock in tissues, especially in the winter. We can go through a box a day at times. Tissues are great for little noses, as well as Boogie Wipes. They even have saline in them which is amazing for little noses. (Ok, so maybe I’ve used them too. Shhhh!)
My heart goes out to you, as you’re trying to figure out how to best help your baby. It can be super difficult to watch your baby be uncomfortable and feel like you can’t do anything much for them. I hope this has given you some ideas of things you can try to help ease their pain.
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