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Baby Congestion

Foods That May Help and Foods to Avoid

Updated May 15, 2023

Baby congestion is uncomfortable for your little one and can make life miserable for you both.

Learn which foods may help relieve baby’s congestion and those you should avoid.

Baby congestion

There are few things quite as pitiful as watching your baby struggle with congestion.

It’s horrible to see him snuffling away as he tries to eat and drink – and it can make him very miserable.

It can also lead to interrupted sleep for the both of you – making an unhappy situation even worse!

Fortunately, you may be able to help your little one to a certain extent by reviewing his diet.

There are certain foods that are believed to be mucus-forming and may aggravate congestion – whilst other foods may help relieve it.

If your little one has started solids, try cutting back on those foods identified as ‘problem’ foods in terms of congestion – and increasing those that are believed to help!

Please note: The following food lists are given as a guide only and should not be treated as medical advice. The foods listed are those which we and other parents have noted may cause a worsening of congestion in our little ones.

If congestion is causing severe breathing or feeding problems for your baby, speak to your doctor immediately.

On most occasions, baby congestion is caused by a cold or even hay fever.

But long term congestion with no sign of a cold or infection may indicate a food allergy, so you should discuss this possibility with your child’s doctor (source: Allergist – Children’s Allergies).

Relieve baby congestion – foods to avoid

  • Dairy products (like yogurt, milk, butter, cream, cheese). Do not, however, cut back on the amount of milk you give your baby if he is under 12 months of age, as this should be his primary source of nutrition. Instead, speak to your doctor about the possibility of switching formula to see if there is any improvement.
  • Refined carbohydrates (like white bread, white rice, white pasta).
  • Fried foods.
  • Some people find that cutting back on meat can help reduce the severity of congestion.
  • Refined sugar.
  • Eggs – although not a common culprit, eggs may sometimes trigger congestion.


Relieve baby congestion – helpful foods

  • Foods rich in beta-carotene, which are usually yellow, orange or red. These include red bell pepper, mango, sweet potato, butternut squash, watermelons, tomato and carrots.
  • Other fresh fruits and vegetables, which are high in vitamin C.
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and wheat germ – these are both high in zinc.
  • Garlic, ginger, sage and thyme – these are all believed to work as a decongestant.
  • Whole grain cereals.
  • Spicy food – but only if your baby already likes it (please do not try introducing spices for the first time when your baby is unwell).

Also, be sure to continue giving your baby homemade baby food – artificial preservatives, colours and flavours are also believed to contribute to congestion.

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