20 answers

Chest Congestion

our 1 month and 2 week old son, has a gurgling type of congestion in his chest. it seems it is most obvious in the morning. i don't think it in his sinues or his throat. he drinks formula and has a problem keeping it in his belly. any suggestions?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

What type of formula are you using? He may be allergic to the ingredients.
S. Fox, L.Ac., M.S.
Balance Restored - Center for Integrative Medicine
600 Miller Avenue
Mill Valley, CA 94941

What kind of formula is he on? I would not give him soy formula, and if he was allergic to milk, try a goat's milk formula or hypoallergenic formula - this sounds related to his diet -

good luck!

More Answers

Hi K.,
My first piece if advice is to get your son to a doctor immediately (yes, that means the ER). I'm not saying that your situation is definitely an emergency, but there are several things that could cause the gurgling you're describing, some of which could lead to chest infections (v. important to treat immediately). Do not take a chance. I think it's probably a bit early for RSV season, but not by much, so who knows. RSV needs to be taken very seriously. However, to me this sounds more like reflux from the little I have to go on here. You may need to switch from the formula you are using to one with the proteins broken down, such as Alimentum. Our son had vicious reflux, and we worked w/ a great ped GI at UCSF. I had originally been breastfeeding, but the doc had me switch to Alimentum formula. (We had tried soy-based formula already, and the problems did not improve in the slightest -- plus soy allergies are relatively common.) At night, after you feed your baby and put him back down (even if you hold him upright for a half-hour+), he could be experiencing reflux, spitting up, and aspirating on it (getting some of the spit-up into his airway and lungs). Foreign substances in the lungs are an extremely serious problem. That is why I think you need to get to the ER *today*. There are other possible causes, too, but why take a chance? I'm not one of those parents who calls the doc at the slightest sign of a sniffle. Potential chest congestion, though, is a completely different issue. Please get your son to the ER and then to the pediatrician on Monday. As for adding rice cereal (or any cereals) to your son's bottle, please do not. I received the same advice from a couple of moms I know, but my son's pediatrician and both of the pediatric GI's he saw (the first one was with CPMC but got a serious illness and stopped practicing, and the second one is at UCSF and has a reputation for being the best in the Bay Area) told us not to thicken his bottle with rice cereal or anything else. All three were quite adamant about this. If your son has reflux, feel free to email me if you want to know more about what worked in our situation. For now, just make sure that your baby's lungs are okay.

Hi K.,

I would look up a good chiropractor for him. I know this may sound unconventional but it works I PROMISE!!! Take care and God bless!

My first guess is a dust allergy. My poor guy would cough in the morning and be congested all day, especially after nap times. Finally something clicked and I washed all his linens and stuffed animals, dusted shelves, etc. We were lucky and had one of those 'pull the dust out of the air' machines. Since we've done all that, all the congestion is gone.
Good luck!

could be reflux...talk to ypur pediatrician...ours rec. using Enfamil A.R.--which is thickened w/ rice cereal, using a wedge under the matress, keeping feeding smaller, but more frequent...

Hi K.,

Based on what you described, it sounds like he has reflux. That means that the formula doesn't stay in the stomach and backs back up into the esophagus. The problem is when it can go back down into his lungs. THere are many other possibilities (congenital abnormalities, formula intolerance, not burping enough, etc.)

I would definitely get this checked out.

There were some good suggestions posted. You can put a phone book under his mattress, or hold him upright on your chest for a while after he eats. That lets gravity do the work and he might keep the food down better. When you feed him, also burp him very frequently (some kids need burping every 1/2 to 1 ounce if they gulp in too much air). If there is too much air in the belly, then when they try to burp it out, the formula comes out instead.

Good luck!

Hi K.,

I am just wondering if your baby might possibly have some acid reflux. My daughter has it and it seems to be most common when she is laying down or at bedtime (early morning hours.

I would talk to your Pediatrician about this.

Good luck to you!


Hi K.,

Does he cough or spit it all up after eating? I don't have too much info to go on, but I think you should call your pediatrician and ask them. Gurgling doesn't sound good- and it could be an infection or possibly the baby aspirated the formula which could cause a serious chest infection. Call the doctor asap to be on the safe side. Good luck to you!


Are you sure it is in his chest? my 5 month old has had this gurgling that i swore up and down was in his chest, but it is actually in his sinuses/throat
there is a big difference between chest congestion and throat congestion and only a dr who listens to his lungs would be able to tell the difference
most likely it is reflux or an allergy...i live in fresno where the air is TERRIBLE and I am sure that doesnt help out with my sons congestion...

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