14. Inhaling steam
One the simplest and easy ways to deal with congestion in children is to create some steam inside a closed room. A child may not like the idea of inhaling steam coming from a bowl of hot water with a head covered in a towel. This method can even be dangerous for children because mild scalding may occur when the steam is too hot.
Create a steamy room instead by going into the bathroom and turning on the hot water in the shower. Close the door, seal up the gap under it with towels and wait a few minutes. Sit with the child inside the steamy room for about 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes before bed. The child will breathe in the steam, loosening up the mucus and relieving any congestion.
In a steamy room, the steam may not be inhaled as directly as when using the towel and bowl method but this is a safer method to use for children. You are there in the room and you can make sure that your child does not come into contact with the scalding water. While you are sitting in the bathroom, clap on your child’s back or chest to help dislodge mucus (see how to do this in point 15).
It is fine to use this method regularly while a child is battling with congestion. It can even be used a couple of times a day. Without access to any other remedies, this simple remedy may be all that you need to help clear up your child’s stuffy nose.
15. Clapping the chest
There is evidence that lightly clapping the back or the front of the chest can help to dislodge mucus plugs in the chest. The clapping motion you need to use is a bit firmer than what you would use to burp a baby. Generally, a baby or small child requires less clapping at a lighter force than an older child who is very congested and is coughing a lot.
If you have a baby or small child, you may sit with the child in your lap. The child should be leaning slightly forward. It may be difficult to attempt clapping with a wriggly toddler and you may have to put the child on its tummy across your knees.
Clap the child’s back or chest with a cupped hand. Clapping should be quick and rhythmic. It should loosen the mucus so that it can drain. The clapping should not be done directly onto the skin but with a cloth or thin clothing covering it. Your hand makes a cup shape by you bending it at the wrist.
When you clap, the sound you should hear is a ‘popping’ sound. If the sound is more of a ‘slapping’ sound, your hand is probably too not cupped enough. How much force used and how long you clap usually depends on the child. Smaller children require less force and time. Watch your child for any sign of pain or discomfort and you may have to reduce force. On the other hand, if the mucus is not coming up, you may need to apply a little more force.