Mom uses vibrator to clear up baby's chest congestion

One mom's unorthodox attempt to help clear her baby's chest congestion has gone viral and you could knock us over with a feather: She used her vibrator.

Yes, you read that correctly.

An anonymous woman shared a photo with baby education organization Melons and Cuties of her using the sex toy on the infant's back to help clear congestion.

"Our customer shares her remedy for chest congestion!!'' Melons and Cuties wrote on Facebook. "Use on baby’s back while sitting in a steamy bathroom. Brilliant!!!"

The Facebook post also noted that "many hospitals and respiratory therapists use these in the treatment of respiratory issues on the BACK in hospital settings."

A commenter named Jessica Henderson wrote that she had seen this done with specialized vibrators at Cook Children's Medical Care Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

"We were in the NICU at Cook children's Ft. Worth and the respiratory team had vibrators of all sizes for this,'' she wrote. "My husband about lost his mind the first time they used one on our baby. They are perfect for the job!"

A spokesperson for Cook Children's Medical Care Center told TODAY that the hospital does use specialized, small vibrators on babies in the NICU to break up congestion and mucus, but not anything like the sex toy pictured in the Melons and Cuties post. The hospital declined any further comment related to the use of vibrators on babies.

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The photo begs the question of whether using a vibrator is effective and safe.

Ericka Hart, a sexuality educator with a master’s of education in human sexuality from Widener University, had some tips for keeping things sanitary if any mom is going to try this at home.

"It seems like this was used in an extreme situation, and I’m glad she thought outside of the box to help her child,'' Hart told TODAY in an email. "There is likely a sex negative impulse to think that this wouldn’t be the thing to do, but at the end of the day a sex toy can be used for anything — the first vibrators began as back massagers, so they can have multiple uses.

"Sex toys have different cleaning rules depending on the materials. Since this was a vibrating toy with a motor inside, it should be cleaned with soap and water after each use. You can buy toy cleaner, but they are literally soap and water in a cute bottle. If this were a silicone toy without a motor, you can boil them like pasta for 2-3 minutes and set on a drying rack until they cool."

Multiple children's hospitals declined any comment to TODAY about possible medical effectiveness of this method.

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Dr. Matt McDonald, the chief medical officer at Children's Specialized Hospital in New Jersey, declined any comment to TODAY related to the use of vibrators but did offer some basic tips to help a child with congestion.

"If the baby has a cold or mucus in the nose, I would recommend a basic humidifier and cold suctioning,'' he said. "And if you have concerns that your baby or toddler has congestion in the chest, or if the baby is having trouble breathing, I would recommend that you take them to the doctor before you make an intervention."

If baby's congestion has you up at night, here are 15 things to try as well as tips on when to call the doctor.