26 answers

6 Month Old Is Always Congested

My 6 mo. old daughter has been congested to some degree since birth. It is mainly in her throat/chest, NOT her nose/sinuses. Initially I related it to her acid reflux...thinking that the acid was irritating her throat...and it got better to some degree when she started the medication for reflux. Then she started Day Care (yuck!) a month ago and got her first real cold...then an ear infection. She seemed to be doing better, but never got rid of the congestion. Now, 2 days after stopping the antibiotic for the ear infection, she has this croupy cough and the chest congestion is worse. I took her to the pediatrician yesterday, and they were unconcerned (as usual) making me feel like a crazy 1st time mom. She is generally happy and doesn't have a fever. I suggested to the pediatrician that she may have allergies, and again was made to feel like I didn't know what I was talking about. They just told me to get a humidifier. I hate humidifiers because they are a pain to clean and they are a breeding ground for germs. I have an air purifier and a vicks vaporizer in her room now, but she is still congested. I also bring her in the bathroom with the hot shower running for the steam. Does anyone else have this problem? Am I overreacting by wanting some answers from the pediatrician (other than "some babies are always congested"). I expected she would get sick once she started day care, but this has been going on for over a month.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Chiropractor!! I know it sounds silly but my little girl is almost 2 1/2 and I had this exact problem. I was exhausted with doctors appointments and feeling like i was crazy. I finally asked around at my daycare and another mom took her daughter to the chiropractor for congestion and it helped. I was skeptical...but tried it. My daughter had three sessions and I am happy to say has not coughed since, going on two weeks with no cough. It is silly to say about a child this young but a chiropractor worked.

Just a side note about humidifiers. Cool humidifiers will help reduce swelling in any areas like the throat, lungs, nose etc. Warm ones will increase the inflamation. You would still have the cleaning stinky problem but it would reduce any immflamition caused by alleriges or whatever.

My grandson was the same way. We switched his formula and that helped. Think he was having a alergic reaction to the other formula.

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First of all don't feel stupid. She is your child and checking up on her is what you pay the doctor for. My son has had ton of breathing problems since birth and has been in and out of the hospitals. If it seemed to help with her acid reflux medicines maybe she needs something a bit stronger? We had to try three different ones for my youngest until we got his acid reflux under control.

I agree that having a baby in a daycare setting unfortunately they may be sick all the time. My first was in daycare until for awhile and always seemed to have something he caught from the other kids until we had a sitter who just came to the house to watch him.

My youngest has some very bad breathing issues, but I know the first thing that began working for us was using a nebulizer. Also a humidifier is a pian, but helps because if used properly helps their little lungs.

If you feel something isn't right, maybe check with another doctor. You are her mom and you just want to protect her.

Best of luck!

Hi J.,
I feel your pain. My one daughter was sick with respitory infections from the time she was born until she was about 5. We even went through a bout of penumonia when she was 4. The cool mist humidifier is really the best idea and worth the cleaning time spent. She had to have her tonsils and adnoids out when she was 5 because she also kept getting strep throat and other infections of her throat. She hasn't really been sick sinse then.
I have allergies myself, and it may be possible that she has allergies. She may have a sinus problems that you cannot see. It may be draining directly down her throat and it's passing into her lungs and causing the congestion.
You may want to ask a pediatrician about the nebulizer, it also is a really great tool and has worked for my son when he was sick.
Good luck with your little girl, I hope that you are able to get her well.

My oldest daughter, now 2.5 was congested for the first couple months after being born. We ended up getting a humidifier. We figured out her problem was allergies from dust mostly. My little one a couple moths back started acting the same way until I switched our laundry detergent over to non-toxic and now she's fine. The humidifiers get nasty, yes but only after a awhile of not being cleaned. Easiest thing there is fit it into everyday tasks of cleaning. I clean mine once a week, but I only need to use it now 1 or twice a week.
You are not overreacting. Sometimes I think doctors see first time moms as hypocondriacts because you are a first time mom. Follow what you feel you should do. If your doctors are making you feel belittled in any way, look around for a new doctor. They are there to help your child, that's what they get paid for not to dismiss any suggested problems you might have. A second opinion never hurts anyway and better safe than sorry. Just because you are not a doctor doesn't mean you don't know what you are talking about.

Good Luck to you n daughter!

Does she cough alot? Not to make you worry, but maybe go to an asthma clinic. They will generally check her for allergies and athma. All three of my children (8,5, 19 months) have a mild case of asthma. In mild cases, sometimes it sounds like a cough or rattly congestion. My first had more classic symptoms. So, you would think that I would have recognized it in my second. But, he had more of a chronic cough. Between the two of them, you would think that I would have recognized it with my third. But, she had a rattly congestion sound. The key difference, that I have noticed, is that you will hear the rattle more on the exhale rather than the inhale.

I would say that there is something going on here. There is always a possibilty that she is just getting colds, which can take about 2 weeks to clear. But if it has been going on for longer than she should be seen by someone else.
My 3rd child suffered through the same thing since almost birth. And his pediatrician kept blowing me off. He seemed to out grow some of the problems though. But I am just now taking him to a specialist.
My 4th child, who is 8 1/2 months old, started this about 4 months old. We now see a different doctor and she put him on singulair and he is on a nebulizer using albuteral and pulmacort. I am not sure as to what the official diagnoses is because it is very difficult to diagnose babies and very young children with both asthma and allergies. They try to say that babies can't have allergies yet, but they can if asthma or moderate to severe allergies runs in the family.
But my suggestion is to you, take her to an asthma and allergy doctor. You have to be the one to fight for your child, no one else will!! I personally know of several times where there have been issues/problems that pediatricians simply overlooked.

By the way, the humidifier is good when a child is sick. But it does NOTHING for the baby and my 7 year old who has asthma.

I have an 18 month old son who was congested since birth also. He had constant ear infections and sinus infections and we had tubes put in his ears at 1 year old. That didn't even seem to help the congestion, he continued to get ear infections despite the tubes. We always had the humidifer running -- didn't make a difference. The doctors weren't concerned about allergies, he was breastfeed, and supplemented with formula then switched to whole milk at a year. However, several other moms asked if I had ever tried switiching him to rice milk. I hadn't but thought I'd give it a try when the congestion just would not stop. He has been on rice milk for 3 months and within 3 weeks of switching, his congestion was gone! My husband and I couldn't believe it! We have not had to visit the doctor since that time, with the exception of a well-baby visit. So, I do believe there was some type of allergy that was causing all of the congestion. Now, we still give him cheese and yogurt every now and then, which doesn't seem to cause a problem. But, all the milk that he drinks throughout the day is rice milk (enriched with calicum and vitamins). So, based on my experience, it might be worth talking to the doctors about possible milk allergies.

Best of luck, I'm sure things will turn around!

Chiropractor!! I know it sounds silly but my little girl is almost 2 1/2 and I had this exact problem. I was exhausted with doctors appointments and feeling like i was crazy. I finally asked around at my daycare and another mom took her daughter to the chiropractor for congestion and it helped. I was skeptical...but tried it. My daughter had three sessions and I am happy to say has not coughed since, going on two weeks with no cough. It is silly to say about a child this young but a chiropractor worked.

My daughter, now 2, had that congested sound in her throat area until she was almost a year old. Other than one bout of a bad cold in that first year, she really wasn't sick but she always sounded to me like she was so congested. It turned out she outgrew it as she got older. At 2, now in daycare, she gets more colds and had RSV this past winter (as well as pneumonia and flu), so was on nebulizer treatments for that. However, if your baby's lungs are clear and nose is clear, could be the reflux, but don't hesitate to think about getting a second opinion.

I know it may be a bigger financial stretch, but if you are able to do it, it may be worth taking your baby out of day care and having someone come into the house. My friends whose kids were in day care always seemed to have the same frustrations and issues you are having...non-stop colds. Also, just food for thought...when my daughter was in pre-school, I found that if I had her wash her hands before down on her getting sick. My kids were not sick too often, all in all, in those years. Also, this may be a little premature with your 6 month old, but whenever I had a playdate over in those early years, or another mom with an infant/toddler, I would wash ALL the toys that the other child touched. So many of the toys wash well in the dishwasher and/or washing machine (though not the ones that are hallow and have holes where water can go in). I know someone who used to fill the bathtub and put some bleach in, and wash the plastic toys that way. Whatever I couldn't put in the washing machine or dishwasher, I would scrub by hand, sometimes with a little bleach. This may sound extreme, but my kids rarely were sick! Good luck!

First things first, If your child's doctor is making you feel like a crazy first time mother and you are not satisfied with him/her, GET A NEW DOCTOR. And their answere of "some babies are always congested" is not correct. An answere needs to be found why her condition continues. Ask other mothers about their babies doctors and go from there for a new one.
good luck

Hi J.,

I would go with your gut. If something tells you that something might be wrong - go with it and make an appoint for a 2nd opinion with another ped or make an appt directly with an allergist to get her tested. You know your baby better than anyone.


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Buy a cool mist vaporvisor not a hot one and get rid of the vick's vaporvisor (it makes them more conjested) and I think that will help.

Hi J.

This sounds almost exactly like my daughter. She doesn't have reflux though and has been congested almost since birth. I figured it was because her little brother brought all the germs home to her before she started daycare. She is rarely unpleasant and rarely has a fever. When she does develop a fever and other cold symptoms such as a runny nose she gets worse. I keep her crib elevated by putting a pillow under the mattress, we use vicks vapo rub and the vapor plug -in. I do use a humidifier when she gets bad. We do the shower routine as well. The doctors were not concerned about it until she got a cold and then started wheezing and having a really hard time breathing. Now, we have a nebulizer that we start using at the first sign of a cold because they think she is sensitive to viruses. She actually seems to be growing out of it a bit as she is getting older ( KNOCK ON WOOD). It just seems like I am actually hearing less coughing lately and she just turned a year last month. Just be watchful for any worsening symptoms, otherwise the only thing you can do is what you are already doing. If you do see any other symptoms call the doctor and make them see her right away, sometimes seeing is believing...
Good Luck to you.

Hi J.. I maybe have more of a comment than suggestion. But I worked at a daycare and I know from working there that (unfortunately) it only takes one sick kid to pass a cold around to all the kids. I am certainly not suggesting not going to daycare. I thought it was a great learning opportunity for all the kids who were there. I just know from being there, sickness was always there and always being passed around. Even for myself (I always seemed to be fighting something when I worked there.) So, I guess as much as you can do to boost your little girl's immune system would be the best. And keep bugging the doctor if it's worrying you!

Just a side note about humidifiers. Cool humidifiers will help reduce swelling in any areas like the throat, lungs, nose etc. Warm ones will increase the inflamation. You would still have the cleaning stinky problem but it would reduce any immflamition caused by alleriges or whatever.

My first thought is to recommend that you see a different ped for a second opinion and perhaps even consider switching peds. If your concerns aren't being addressed or if you are made to feel badly for taking your child to be checked then that ped doesn't deserve your money.

I also want to let you know that I agree that the humidifiers are a pain to clean, but I've found they really do work to relieve various symptoms. I found little cartridges that you drop in the water to help keep the water clean. I've used them and now feel more secure about the germ thing. If you want to try them I've found them next to the replacement filters and cleaners in the grocery store and I think also at Walmart. I hope your daughter feels better.

My daughter was the same way and the pediatrician blew it off like it was nothing. She was congested from about 1 week old until I changed doctors. I switched doctors and the new doctor told me it could be from dust in the home (on stuffed animals, knicknacks, curtains and at the time we lived across the street from a main amtrak route). He suggested getting a hepa filter and putting it in her room to see if it made a difference. Yes, it did, so we put one in our living room as well and she stopped being congested.

I am in no way saying that is the diagnosis but it can't hurt to try. I personally would go to a different doctor and see what they have to say. Don't take nothing is wrong for an answer.

Best of luck

Hi J.,

Don't sell yourself short because you work in geriatrics. It seems like babies and older people have a lot in common. Listen to your gut feelings about your baby.

At daycare, do they hold your baby at an angle when she takes her bottle or do they place her on her back in a crib and let her hold the bottle herself? If a baby is not at a nursing angle when they drink their formula, the fluid can back up into the eustatian tube and cause congestion and infection. Most ear infections should not be treated with antibiotics. They will get better without them. Overuse of antibiotics makes them less effective when you really need them.

If your doctor makes you feel like an idiot, find another doctor. Remember that doctors are not gods, though they'd like you to think they are. They don't have all the answers. If you think your baby has allergies, here are some things to check:
1. Do you use bumper pads in your crib? If you do, what are they made of? Try removing the pads and see if that helps.
2. What are you using to wash her bed clothes? How often do you change the sheets, pads, etc. Dust mites can cause congestion as well as the chemicals in the detergent.
3. My children had to sleep with the head of the crib mattress raised slightly to allow drainage. This may help.
4. What are the floors covered with? What kind of window treatments do you use in her room? Bare floors are better than carpets in the bedroom. Wet mopping to get up dust helps eliminate mites and other allergins.
5. How much time does your daughter spend around the dogs? Animal dander is sometimes a problem for sensitive babies.
6. Check out the accommodations made for your child at daycare. Does she share sleeping/playing equipment with other children? If she does, are the sheets changed between uses? How often are the people disinfecting the play equipment?
7. Do you use scented candles or room fresheners in your home? If you do, remember that these are not good for sensitive people, big or little.
8. Some of the spray fabric fresheners make me sick. Also, some of the room sprays to eliminate germs and odors are offensive and cause congestion.

I hope this helps your baby. My children were so sick their first 6 years of life. They had inhalent allergies as well as allergies to pet dander (dogs and cats) and some food. Their biggest allergy was to tobacco smoke. They each went through desensitization shots for years. Hope none of this applies to your little girl.

Sincerely, M.

My grandson was the same way. We switched his formula and that helped. Think he was having a alergic reaction to the other formula.

I have a 9 mo old that has been sick since she was 5 weeks old. The doctors are always dismissing it. I also have a 4yr old that is in preschool that brings everything home. So we were sick constantly this winter. She had RSV in Feb. and became hospitalized and I swear she has never recovered and is always congested. I do know that it does take time for all that to clear up. I know what you mean when the doctors treat you like you know nothing. I do think though a cool mist humidifier is fine if you clean it with every change. I really like the ones with the cartrige filters, the are made by Reli On. They are much easier to clean than the fiber ones. Also saline helps to flush things away, even if your not going to suction the secretions. It might dry things out too. I think the experts are full of bologna when they say babies cant have allergies. Good luck I am hoping summer clears the colds up.

Go with your instinct. My oldest son was always sick with ear and sinus infections and when I asked about allergies my former pediatrician tried to tell me he was to young. When he was around three I switched to a family doctor and let him know of the problems that he had and he was sent for allergy testing and in fact has numerous allergies. All the times I was told he had a sinus infection could have been avoided if he had been treated for the underlying problem. It doesn't mean your child has allergies but ask to see an allergist and if your doctor doesn't want you to and still treats you as an over protective parent then you need to find a doctor for your child that you are comfortable with and that will listen to you about your child. You know your child better than anyone else will. Good luck.

Hi J.,
I think you need to switch pediatricians! There may be a little of that "crazy mom" thing in all of us but if you truly feel your drs are dismissing your concerns--that's a good reason to switch.
My son gets super-crusty crud in his nostrils all the time and when I run the cool mist humidifier it is markedly better by morning. PLEASE re-consider using one. I've run one for my son (mainly for the white noise) since he was a few months old and I think it really helps to keep their nasal passages, throat & ears healthy. My son is 5 and he has had 2 ear infections in his life. They're really not that hard to care for, just rinse them out before filling, change filters when necessary and follow the care guide that comes with it. I think it will really help. I agree about stopping the Vicks one.
Good luck you you and your little one!

My son also had the same problem. He has acid reflux also and they ended up having to change his reflux medication adn it helped 100%. He is now on prevacid and it's amazing. Talk to your pediatrician about switching meds. It could be that the one that your baby is on is just not right for her.

Hey J.,

My daughter was congested and coughed alot for 11 months. My doctor blamed it on daycare but I had had enough. I changed doctors and she was diagnosed with asthma. Using a nebulizer for 6 months made her all better. She doesnt wheeze at night, cough constantly, and sound terrible. It may help you to make an appt. with a pediatric allergist. They deal with kids with asthma. My daughter is almost 3 now and totally symptom free. Good luck to you.


When my son started day care, it took his body about a good 4-6 months to adjust. It seemed like he was always either congested or had an ear infection during that time. Then, all of a sudden, the ear infections stopped - then the congestion went away. Now he gets the occasional cold, but is otherwise very healthy. Our pediatricians were mostly concerned about the ear infections - one more & they were going to send us to an ear-nose-throat specialist. They didn't get too worried about the congestion because he wasn't wheezing. My son's day care recommends that the kids wash their hands when they get there & that we wash them when they leave. They are big on handwashing, but his body still needed to adjust to being in contact with new germs. I hope she gets better!!

Hi J.

Trust your MOM-sense!! My son had reflux and it was undiagnosed. I knew something was wrong with my baby and went to doctor after doctor (I changed pediatricians 4 times)and finally when my son was 6 weeks old he got diagnosed with reflux. The doctor told me that another week and my son would have needed to have surgery to repair his espohogus. My point is... I had many doctors looking at me like I was nuts. I even started to think they were right at one point. But in the end I was right and it's a good thing I stuck with my gut.

That said, even after my son was on the reflux medicine he was always congested all the time. I constantly took him to the doctor and heard the same thing as you. "It's either a cold or from the reflux...if it gets worse or his symptoms change give us a call"

He is now 16 months old and a happy, healthy toddler.

**I always added rice cereal to his bottle (just a bit) even after he started the reflux medicine. Once he started solid foods (baby food) the reflux cleared up...I think it went away around 9 months. He still has problems with peaches and peas for some reason but you'll figure it out.

Good luck!

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