Wheezing in Toddlers – Causes, Symptoms And Home Remedies by Dr. Srikanta J T

7 min read

Written by Dr. Srikanta J T

Dr. Srikanta J T

wheezing in Toddlers

Toddlers routinely fall sick. Their immune system is developing, they are at a stage where they can catch infections and face different health conditions as they grow up. Wheezing in toddlers is one such condition that can be worrisome for parents. It can be quite difficult for you to see your little one struggling to breathe.

Wheezing can happen due to different causes. Fortunately, timely medical intervention can bring the condition under control. In this article, we take you through the various causes of wheezing in your toddler, how your doctor will treat your child and some effective home remedies that will help make your toddler feel comfortable during this difficult time. pregnancy pillow

In This Article

What is Wheezing?

Wheezing is a condition in which a child finds it difficult to breathe. This condition is usually accompanied by a high-pitched whistling sound. If your child is suffering from severe cold and cough, then it can block the smaller airways causing wheezing. But most of the time, there is nothing to panic about. Wheezing is quite common in babies and toddlers.

Causes of Wheezing in Toddlers

Causes Of Wheezing In Toddlers

Wheezing in toddlers can happen due to many reasons. Understanding the causes helps parents deal with the condition in a better way. Here are the causes of wheezing.

1. Anatomic Factors

Anatomic factors such as cartilage that is quite weak inside the larynx or windpipe can often cause wheezing in children. This type of wheezing can be cleared easily with proper medications.

2. Pneumonia

When your little toddler gets exposed to some kind of micro-organisms, they easily contract an infection in the lungs that can lead to pneumonia. Wheezing, congestion, severe coughing, and appetite loss are all common indications of pneumonia.

3. Swallowing an Object

Toddlers often swallow some tiny toy or object that can get stuck inside the throat and lead to obstruction and choking. This can cause the child to cough continuously and wheeze and is a case that requires immediate medical attention.

[Read : What To Do If Your Child Swallows A Coin?]

4. Croup

This is a condition where the larynx or trachea is inflamed, making your toddler cough very harshly. It normally affects children under five years and can also cause wheezing.

5. Allergies

This is a very common trigger for most wheezing attacks. One of the most common allergies that small kids develop is an allergy to milk and milk products, nuts, wheat, etc. and can trigger wheezing.

6. Bronchitis

Bronchitis is an infection in the chest that obstructs oxygen flow triggering wheezing in toddlers. There are two types of Bronchitis, namely bronchiolitis obliterans and viral. The latter is more prevalent in toddlers and babies.

While a mild infection can get cleared by itself, a more serious attack requires immediate medical attention. Ensure that your baby is well hydrated and keep a humidifier with moist air in his room to provide relief.

Types of Wheezing in Toddlers

Types of Wheezing in Toddlers

Basically, there are two types of wheezing in toddlers. They are:

1. Persistent Wheezing

This type of wheezing continues for a long period. The most common causes for this type of wheezing include  genetic issues and allergy-related factors.

2. Transient Wheezing

As the name suggests, this type of wheezing is temporary and happens when your child is suffering from some kind of inflammation. Transient wheezing subsides once the inflammation comes down.

All Wheezing is Usually Not Asthma

Wheezing accompanied by cough is common when toddlers have severe colds and chest infections. But this usually does not mean they have asthma. As toddlers tend to get a lot of colds and have narrower airways, it is often difficult to tell whether toddlers have asthma. Not all toddlers who have wheezing attacks will develop asthma and not all toddlers who have asthma wheeze.

Most pediatricians do not diagnose asthma in babies below 12 months of age as the muscles around the airways in the lungs have matured. Sometimes, in order to see how the symptoms respond to the treatment, a lot of doctors prescribe asthma medicine.

Symptoms of Wheezing in Toddlers

Some of the common symptoms of wheezing in toddlers are:

  • Labored breathing especially while exhaling.
  • Whistling sound while exhaling.
  • Pain or tightening of the chest.
  • Frequent intermittent coughing.

Treatment For Wheezing in Toddlers

Treating wheezing on time in toddlers is vital to ensure that the condition gets worsened and they do not experience more discomfort. Here is what your doctor will prescribe for the wheezing issue your toddler is facing.

  • Course of antibiotics
  • Nasal sprays
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Antihistamine medications
  • Bronchodilators
  • Corticosteroids

[Read : Are Nasal Sprays Safe For Kids?]

10 Effective Home Remedies to Deal With Wheezing in Toddlers

While medications do their duty in reducing wheezing in your little one, you can also take to some home remedies. Here we list 10 proven home remedies that you can safely use for your toddler.

1. Steam Inhalation

This is a wonderful home remedy that works wonders for wheezing. All you need to do is take your little one to a bathroom filled with steam and close the doors tight. Just sit there for a couple of minutes with your toddler in your lap. By doing so you can bring the wheezing symptoms down to a huge extent. It is ideal to soothe the chest and remove any obstructions in the airway.

2. Breast Feeding

This is found to be an effective remedy for wheezing. It has been proven that kids who are breastfed for longer periods say one or two years are less prone to wheezing compared to children who were breastfed for shorter periods.

3. Hydration

Keeping your baby well-hydrated is extremely important to treat wheezing symptoms. Hydration helps to flush out any kind of infection and germs that are the main causes of wheezing attacks. Fluids including breast milk, water, cow’s milk all aid in thinning of the mucus secretions that automatically help to make breathing easy for your toddler. So, ensure that your child is given plenty of fluids, especially warm and filtered water.

4. Nebulizer


For toddlers who have recurrent wheezing, nebulizers are a good option. These nebulizers play an important role in soothing down the muscles that surround the obstructed airway of your child. The good news is that they are much better than medications as they are totally free of any kind of adverse effects, and the results are instantaneous too.

5. Elevation

Putting your baby to sleep upright in an elevated position is found to provide relief from congestion to an extent. Positioning a high pillow in order to ensure that the little one’s head remains in an elevated position while sleeping does the trick.

6. Turmeric

Another effective home remedy to deal with wheezing issues in toddlers is the use of turmeric due to its anti-inflammatory properties. You can make a paste with turmeric powder, ghee, and black pepper powder and massage it on your child’s chest for quick relief from wheezing.

7. Mustard Oil

Simply heat some mustard oil with camphor and rub it on your toddler’s back and chest. You can do this several times a day to get effective results.

8. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil is one of the best home remedies for wheezing. It is excellent to treat asthma, chest tightening, sinus congestion, insect bites, etc. All you need is to put some drops of pure eucalyptus oil on a handkerchief or pillow cover of your toddler and place their head near it. This will not only provide relief from wheezing but also ensure a good night’s sleep for your toddler.

[Read : Eucalyptus Oil For Babies Is It Safe To Use?]

9. Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is an effective home remedy for wheezing. All you need is to add half a teaspoon of asafoetida and a sufficient amount of camphor to100 ml of sesame oil. Store this mixture in a bottle and rub it on your toddler’s chest and upper back whenever you feel they are showing symptoms of wheezing.

10. Hot Soups

If your toddler is suffering from wheezing, then feeding them hot soups helps in controlling the symptoms and providing relief.

Wheezing in toddlers can be a troublesome issue. Thankfully, we have medications and home remedies at hand. Always consult your doctor when you see the first symptoms of wheezing in your little one.

Did your toddler suffer from wheezing? How did you treat it? Do you have any more home remedies to deal with wheezing? Do share it in the comments section below.


1. How Long Does Wheezing Last in Toddlers?

Mostly wheezing and rapid breathing improve by second or third day. However, mild wheezing sound can last up to a week.

2. Can Honey Cure Wheezing?

Honey may help in wheezing by reducing inflammation in the bronchial tubes or airways present inside the lungs. It can also help in breaking up the mucus which causes difficulty in breathing.

3. Does Wheezing go Away Naturally?

Wheezing may go away naturally but most of the times it may require medical attention for it to cure.

Read Also: Use of a Nebulizer and Its Side Effects by Dr. Srikanta J T

Dr. Srikanta J T, MBBS, Diploma in Child Health (DCH), Diplomate of National Board(DNB), Fellowship in Pediatric Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine(NUH, Singapore), Training in Interventional Pulmonology
Consultant - Paediatric Interventional Pulmonology, Allergy and Sleep Medicine, ASTER CMI Hospital
10 years of experience

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