Foods for Toddlers With Congestion

Whether caused by the common cold, allergies or something more serious, congestion makes it tough for your toddler to breathe. It takes time for your tyke to get rid of congestion, but you can make her feel better by paying special attention to her diet. Some foods can ease your toddler's discomfort, while others might exacerbate symptoms.

The right foods can help your child feel better. (Image: MIXA next/MIXA/Getty Images)

Warm Liquids

There's a reason chicken soup has the reputation for healing the sick; warm liquids have been shown to ease congestion and other symptoms of colds. Liquids can thin mucus, making it easier for your tot to clear it. If your toddler isn't a fan of chicken, any broth-based soup will do the trick, whether homemade or canned. While adults can benefit from hot tea, warm juice can accomplish the same thing in toddlers. Try low-sugar versions of apple or grape juice; make sure the beverages aren't too hot.

Vitamin C Foods

Studies have suggested vitamin C – found naturally in fruits and veggies such as oranges, strawberries and even broccoli – can help fight off symptoms of colds, including congestion. Feed your child fruits high in vitamin C, including kiwi, grapefruit, papaya and cantaloupe. If your toddler will eat vegetables, try bell peppers or sweet potatoes. When solid foods are too much for your suffering tot, try juices or mix up a fruit smoothie.


According to a 2007 study by the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, honey can alleviate a cough caused by congestion in toddlers. Honey also can soothe sore throats. Add honey to a fruit smoothie or warm juice, or have him take 2 teaspoons of raw honey before bedtime to help relieve night-time coughing. Don't give honey to children younger than 1 year old – the honey could cause infant botulism, a potentially fatal kind of food poisoning.

Foods to Avoid

Some proponents of natural remedies recommend eliminating refined sugar and dairy from your toddler's diet when he's congested. Many people are allergic or intolerant to these foods, which could increase mucus production and compound congestion. Refined sugars show up in a lot of sneaky places, including your tot's favorite breakfast cereal, cookies and crackers. Avoid foods that contain high fructose corn syrup, and skip table sugar. Use nondairy alternatives such as almond or rice milk in place of cow's milk.

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