How to Treat Bronchitis in Babies Naturally: Massage Exercises

    How to Treat Bronchitis

    You sure wonder how to treat bronchitis in your baby without medications once she gets ill. To figure it out, let’s first understand the nature of the disease in babies.

    Little ones often catch a cold. The main cause for this is the structure of their respiratory organs. The respiratory system is completely formed by 12 years of age.

    Bronchitis, like most colds, is accompanied by an acute cough which helps to remove accumulated mucus from the bronchi. Adults get rid of sputum more rapidly than children do. To accelerate the process of recovery, doctors prescribe a special massage which positively affects the improvement of kids’ health.

    The massage is especially effective during bronchitis, but you can do it when your kid has an ordinary cough as well.

    Types of massage to relief bronchitis

    The following types of massage will help your little one to quickly get rid of accumulated sputum:

    – Drain massage is performed while your baby is on the back and her head is located lower than the body is.

    – Honey massage is performed with the use of some preheated natural honey.

    – Acupressure can be done additionally to the main massage. You should massage the definite zones to enhance the effect of massage.

    – Chest massage promotes breathing normalization.

    – Vacuum massage is performed with the use of medical cans you place on the back and move to the sides.

    – Vibration massage is a rhythmic tapping along the back.

    How to give your baby a correct massage

    Massage will greatly facilitate the baby’s breathing; will help to remove more sputum, to restore lymph circulation in the lungs and blood supply to the bronchi, as well as to prevent possible complications.

    You better start massaging older children during the recovery period – on the 4th-5th day of the illness. If your child is younger than 1 year of age, perform the massage from the very beginning of the disease.


    – If the child has fever or any complications. On the slightest suspicion of complications, you shouldn’t perform massage because it can worsen the situation.

    – Children younger than six months of age.

    – Inflammatory diseases of the larynx and trachea. Sputum will be removed much harder through the larynx when it is cramped with spasm.

    – Progression of cardiovascular or pulmonary insufficiency.

    – If the child doesn’t feel good.

    Getting ready

    – Before you start, wash the child in a hot bath, then warm up her body by rubbing it for two minutes.

    – Tap between the ribs with your fingertips. Stimulation of these zones activates the child’s breathing. Start tapping the ribs moving from the lower part upwards.

    – Place your sick kid on the bed with maximum comfort. To do this, place a pillow under the mattress so that the upper part of the child’s body is raised within 20°. This position facilitates the child’s breathing by lowering the diaphragm. Don’t put your kid on a feather bed or soft pillows. These will obstruct or weaken her breathing.

    – It is also important to ventilate the room well, thereby letting oxygen come in.

    – To avoid stagnant phenomena in the lung tissue, change the baby’s position more often: turn her from side to side, take her in your arms and keep her upright.

    – Position the child in a so-called postural drainage position (Fig.1) several times a day. Put the baby on a roller or a dense pillow on her back so that her chest and head are lower than the legs and the lower half of the body are. In this position, you can do chest massage.

    Fig. 1. Postural drainage

    Postural Drainage


    You can start easy stroking of the baby’s chest and feet within the first days of illness while your baby is covered with a blanket. After the body temperature decreases and the child feels better, position the child in postural drainage position and perform more active massage. The child should not be undressed completely: when massaging the chest, cover her legs and the lower part of the body with a light blanket or a warm nappy.

    First, massage the back performing sawing movements, stroking, rubbing with your finger pads or knuckles of bent fingers, etc. Once the skin turns red, start massaging the baby’s chest. Perform stroking in the direction from the spine along the ribs. After that, spread apart your fingers and perform massage with the finger pads. Use this technique when massaging intercostal spaces.

    Perform back kneading by pressing the skin and bringing your hands together.

    Be sure to position the baby in a postural drainage position and perform vibration. Light beating with the back of your fingers (Fig. 2) is effective as well. As a variant of this technique, you can perform slapping with a palm. If you do everything correctly, you will hear a characteristic booming sound, which is obtained by squeezing the air gap between the baby’s skin and your palm.

    Perform patting techniques rhythmically and quickly, trying not to cause unpleasant feelings in your child; and alter stimulating techniques with stroking.

    Fig. 2. Tapping with the backs of your fingers

    Bronchitis Treatment

    Massage the front surface of the chest as carefully as the back. Perform stroking in the direction from the center of the chest to the supraclavicular pits, and from the middle of the chest to the sides and downwards to the axillary basins. Then perform rubbing with your fingers apart along the intercostal spaces (Fig. 3), without touching the sternal region.

    Gently massage the upper half of the thorax and the area of the clavicle with the pads of two fingers. Also perform tapping with your fingers as if you are typing on a keyboard. Vibration with a palm performed along the lower ribs is very good. But don’t forget to alternate stimulating techniques with stroking.

    Fig. 3. Rubbing with your fingers apart

    Bronchitis Cure

    When your child is ill any respiratory disease, you can massage her up to 10 times a day. The worse the baby feels, the more often and the shorter the sessions (2-6 minutes).

    Therapeutic exercises

    Breathing exercises are performed by pressing rhythmically on the baby’s chest. Perform them while placing the baby in a variety of positions, you do not even need to take her out of the crib.

    1. Starting position: the child is in a supine position. Put your palms on the front and lateral surfaces of the chest. Listen to the rhythm of the child’s breathing and gently press down on the ribs as she exhales. Repeat the exercise several times.

    2. Starting position: the child is in a prone position. Listen to the rhythm of her breathing. Every time the child exhales, rhythmically press with your both hands on the back and lateral surfaces of the chest.

    3. Starting position: the child is on the right side. At the end of each exhalation rhythmically press on the back and side of the chest. Turn the baby over and repeat the exercise on the left side.

    4. Starting position: the child is sitting on your laps face to you. Each time the child exhales, rhythmically press on her back, gradually moving the palm from the neck to the waist.

    5. Starting position: the child is in a supine position feet to you. When the baby inhales, spread her arms apart; when she exhales, press them crosswise to the chest. Make sure that when crossed, the arms are on the top of each other alternately.

    6. Starting position: the child is in a supine position. When she inhales, spread the arms apart first, then lift them up. When the child exhales, lower them down, bend and press to the chest.

    7. Starting position: the child is on a side. When she inhales, raise her slightly bent at the elbow joint arm up. Then, on exhalation, lower it down pressing to the side of the chest.

    8. Starting position: the child is in a supine position her feet to you, her arms are stretched along the body. When the kid inhales, spread them to the sides sliding along the surface of the crib and lift them up. Then, when the baby exhales, lower the arms down.

    9. Starting position: the child is in a supine position her feet to you. When she exhales, simultaneously bend the legs pressing the knees to the stomach, and when she inhales unbend them completely.

    10. Turn the baby from back to a side, to the stomach and backward.

    As the baby recovers and she feels better, increase the duration of sessions up to 10-25 minutes and perform them 2-3 times a day. In addition to the exercises described above, start performing the massage exercises usual for the kid’s age on a daily basis. Moreover, gradually increase the load on the body with the help of massage and increase of the number of exercises and their performance time. However, when choosing the exercises, consider the general health state of the child, the features of the disease and the degree of its development. In the latter case, you must consult your pediatrician.

    Therapeutic exercises and massage month by month

    Here’s an approximate list of therapeutic exercises and massage, recommended to do during an acute period of respiratory diseases after the temperature has lowered.

    Within the period of acute respiratory diseases, it is contraindicated that you place the baby on the stomach and therefore, all the exercises performed with the baby in this position are prohibited as well. This is due to the fact that when lying on the stomach babies have difficulties breathing since the mobility of the chest is blocked. You can use this position once the child recovers to restore her respiratory functions.

    Approximate list of massage exercises for babies aged 1-4 months

    1. Stroking hands.
    2. Stroking legs.
    3. Stroking feet.
    4. Baby is on a side. Reflex extension of her back.
    6. Stroking chest.
    7. Light pressure on the front and lateral surfaces of the chest.
    8. Stroking tummy.

    Approximate list of exercises for babies aged 5-9 months

    1. Stroking hands.
    2. Spreading arms apart and crossing them on the chest.
    3. Stroking legs.
    4. Stroking and rubbing feet gently.
    5. Reflex exercises for the feet.
    6. Bending legs simultaneously.
    7. Baby is in a prone position, turn her to a side and back.
    8. Massage of the tummy (all exercises).
    9. Stroking and tapping the front surface of the breast.
    10. Light pressure on the front and lateral surfaces of the chest (when the baby exhales).

    Approximate list of exercises for babies aged 10-12 months

    1. Stroking the front surface of the chest and vibrating massage.
    2. Rhythmic pressure on the front and lateral surfaces of the chest (when the baby exhales).
    3. Spreading arms apart and crossing them on the chest.
    4. Stroking legs.
    5. Simultaneous extension and bending of the legs.
    6. Turn on the side.
    7. Massage of the abdomen (all exercises).
    8. Back massage, baby is sitting on your laps (stroking, rubbing, and light patting).
    9. Stroking the front surface of the chest.
    10. Circular motions with the hands.

    Of course, you are free to perform all these massage exercises at home by yourself. But these are the exercises for sick children so you first should consult the doctor. May your child be healthier and happier!

    What do you do when your child is ill bronchitis or an ordinary cough? Share your experience with other parents in the comment section.


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