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.