Chest Pain in Toddlers

Your toddler says his chest hurts. Could it be serious? Here’s how to know.
profile picture of Paul Horowitz, MD
ByPaul Horowitz, MD
Pediatrician
Updated
Mar 2017
Hero Image

What is chest pain like for a toddler?

If an adult complains of chest pain, we automatically think, Call 911, but if it’s your toddler doing the complaining, there’s probably a less dramatic cause.

What could be causing my toddler to have chest pain?

Most likely, he’s developed an ache or strain in his chest muscles or skin, rather than having a heart or lung problem. It’s possible your toddler may have bronchitis or (more rarely) pneumonia, both of which are usually accompanied by a cough — if it’s pneumonia, he probably has a high fever too. If he’s wheezing, short of breath or has trouble breathing, he may have asthma. Although unusual in kids under two, it may also be an inflammation of the joints in the chest called costochondritis. Symptoms of this condition include pain and tenderness in the chest and along the border of the breastbone and ribs, which gets worse when he coughs or breathes deeply.

When should I take my toddler to see the doctor with chest pain?

If he has a high fever, is coughing excessively or seems like he’s in a lot of pain, talk to your doctor. And if he’s experiencing any difficulty breathing, get emergency medical help immediately.

What should I do to treat my toddler’s chest pain?

If you suspect he has a virus, make sure he gets plenty of rest and drinks lots of fluids. If it’s a  bruise or strain, you can also try giving him some  acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Related Video

How to Treat a Baby Fever

Lambeth Hochwald
Contributing Writer

Ear Problems in Babies

Anita Chandra-Puri, MD
Pediatrician

This Vapor Bath Bomb Is the Perfect Parenting Hack for a Sick Kid

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
03/07/2019

Teacher’s Science Project Grossly Shows Importance of Washing Hands

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
12/18/2019

Ringworm in Babies

Jennifer L.W. Fink
Registered Nurse

Q&A: Breast Infection?

Erin van Vuuren

What to Do for a Baby Ear Infection

Lisa Milbrand
Contributing Writer

How to Spot Fifth Disease in Babies and Big Kids

Celia Shatzman
Contributing Writer

Q&A: What Is Toxoplasmosis?

Ashley Roman, MD
OB-GYN

Headaches in Babies

Wendy Sue Swanson, MD
Pediatrician

Q&A: What Is Salmonella?

Vicki Papadeas, MD
Pediatrician
Advertisement