Congestion is a common symptom that arises in many illnesses. It usually does not pose a serious health risk but it can be uncomfortable for both children and adults. Some babies might become more irritable because of the congestion, depending on the severity. Although it normally goes away as the illness subsides, you can take several steps to relieve congestion and improve breathing.
Chest congestion is caused by the development of mucus in the airways of the lungs. This mucus becomes more prevalent as the body tries to trap and attack germs and other contaminants. The increased mucus in the respiratory system can make breathing more difficult, causing wheezing sounds in your baby and inducing coughing.
Chest congestion usually occurs when your baby contracts a cold or the flu. In most cases, chest congestion is not bad enough that it poses a threat to your baby's life. You should be able to treat your child's congestion. However, serious congestion can be more difficult for a baby to expel and might increase the child's irritability.
Some simple at-home treatments can improve the condition of your baby's congestion. A humidifier can improve the air moisture, helping to clear congestion from the lungs. You can also lay your baby across your lap face-down and gently tap her back to loosen the mucus and make it easier for your child to cough out.
Keeping your baby well-hydrated will also help him get rid of congestion. The cilia that line the respiratory system are more effective at clearing mucous from the airways when they are moist, so push fluids with your baby. Do not be afraid to contact your baby's doctor if you are concerned about your baby's health -- your doctor should be able to determine from your baby's symptoms whether the congestion and other symptoms are a minor health concern or something requiring medical attention.