5 Natural Remedies for Congestion

Whether you’re coping with fall allergies or got hit with your first cold-weather ick, congestion can really knock you off your game. A stuffy nose is annoying during the day, but congestion and post-nasal drip are even more troublesome at night, when they prevent you from getting the rest you need to get better. Below are some natural remedies for soothing that stuffy nose so you can enjoy your day and get some sleep tonight.

The best part about the natural remedies for congestion below is that they are gentle enough for kids to use. Most of them are even safe enough for babies. I’ve been using many of these remedies for my son since he was an infant.

5 Natural Remedies for Congestion

Natural Remedies for Congestion: Neti Pot

1. Neti Pot or Saline Nasal Spray

Flushing and moisturizing those sinuses gives you instant relief, and you’ll be surprised at how long it lasts. Adults and older kids can use a neti pot to clear out congestion naturally. For younger kids (or folks who aren’t quite neti ready yet), a saline nasal spray will do the trick, too. My pediatrician recommended the nasal spray when my son got his first winter cold. He was around two or three months old. This natural remedy is gentle enough for even tiny babies, but of course you’ll want to talk to your pediatrician first if you have any hesitation.

Natural Remedies for Congestion: Humidifier

2. Humidifier

Dry fall and winter air is murder on already irritated sinuses. It’s also rough on your lips, if congestion has you mouth-breathing at night. Run a humidifier to help make breathing easier for yourself or for a congested child. If you do find that you’re mouth breathing at night, keeping some lip balm and a glass of water by the bed can also make you more comfortable.

If you’re feeling really rotten, you can even stick your face over the humidifier, and let that good steam really get into your sinuses.

Natural Remedies for Congestion: Homemade Vapor Rub

3. Homemade Vapor Rub

Want to know a secret about vapor rub? It doesn’t really do anything to clear congestion. Really. It even says so on the Vick’s website. Even the store-bought, chemical-laden vapor rubs only make you feel like you’re breathing more easily. But you don’t need petroleum products and toxic “fragrance” to get those results. Try my homemade vapor rub remedy instead. It’s gentle enough for even tiny, tiny babies. Some kids are sensitive to essential oils, though, so you will want to spot-test this congestion remedy before slathering it on your baby’s chest and back at bedtime.

Natural Remedies for Congestion: Essential Oil

4. Essential Oils

This is another home remedy that can help you or your child feel more comfortable, so you can sleep. And there are a few options for getting essential oil benefits. The vapor rub recipe above is basically a vehicle for essential oils, for example. You can also add a few drops of eucalyptus, menthol, tea tree, lavender, or thieves oil to your humidifier.

If you’re worried about gunking up your humidifier with oil, an old school oil burner is a great option. Normally, these use a tea light candle under a tray of water with a few drops of oil in it. You can also make your own. This teacup version is intriguing! Just don’t leave that sucker on all night. Once the water simmers off, you need to refill or turn off the mug warmer.

Natural Remedies for Congestion: Sleep with Extra Pillows

5. Sleep Sitting Up

OK, you don’t have to sit up all the way. But you can relieve some of your congestion and post-nasal drip by sticking an extra pillow or two under your head at night. This solution is not an option for babies, because pillows in the crib are a suffocation hazard until they’re at least a year, if not older. When my son had that first cold as an infant, we put him down at night in his Rock and Play, and the angle seemed to help him.

Do you have any favorite natural remedies for congestion? Share your tips in the comments!


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Magdalena J.
Past Member 4 years ago

Thank you!

Karen K.
Karen K4 years ago

Yes, humidifier and simply saline are good. Bought an inexpensive hygrometer as well. Airways don't like it when the humidity is