Baby Breathing Patterns: When You Need To Be Alert

Baby Breathing Patterns

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Babies make noises while sleeping. Some of these noises are benign and rather cute, but others may ring alarm bells. It may not be possible for you to keep checking your baby’s breathing. Resolving to do so will tire you.

Therefore, to help you understand your baby’s breathing pattern, MomJunction has put some information together. Read this post to learn all about baby breathing patterns, problems, and some other valuable tips.

Baby Breathing Patterns

Newborn babies breathe in cycles, and your baby can have a deep, active, noisy, or even a stuffy sleep, all in one night. If the breathing pattern is regular and does not irritate the baby or cause him discomfort, then you can relax . One breathing cycle goes from fast and deep breathing to slow and shallow breathing, which is entirely reasonable. This breathing phenomenon is called periodic breathing, which is quite common among newborns. Pauses of up to five seconds while breathing shouldn’t alarm you.

While different breathing patterns could mean different things, SIDS is one of the factors worth looking-out for. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is common in babies up to four months. Babies could have trouble waking up due to breathing. As this is controlled by an immature arousal center in the brain, they can’t wake up by themselves. Babies sleeping on their stomachs are more vulnerable to SIDS because of the position, which decreases the in-take of oxygen, and limits the supply. Keeping a watch over the baby until he is one year old, is the best way to beat SIDS.

[ Read: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome ]

The infrequent breathing pattern will soon normalize as your baby grows. If you wish to ensure that your baby has a normal breathing pattern, follow the below-mentioned tips:

  1. Listen to the sounds that your baby makes while sleeping by placing your ear near his mouth or nose. If there are any irregularities in his breathing, you can detect them.
  1. Observe your baby’s chest for a week and note any irregularities in the way his chest heaves up and down. If the pattern changes, consult a pediatrician.
  1. Consider putting your cheek next to the baby’s nose and mouth to feel the moisture and heat while your baby breaths. In this way, you can detect if there is any change in the same while your baby sleeps at night.

Symptoms To Watch For

Newborns typically have irregular breathing patterns, which are quite different to adult breathing patterns, there are some specific abnormalities you should consider:

1. Whistling Noise:

If your baby is making a whistling noise while he sleeps, his nostrils may be blocked with mucus or milk. Such blockage can interfere with a baby’s normal pattern of breathing until the pediatrician uses suction to cure the problem.

2. A Hoarse Cough:

It occurs due a blockage in the voice box or larynx. A presence of excess mucus deposits in the windpipe can lead to all sorts of blockages, which can not only affect your baby’s breathing pattern but also lead to complications.

[ Read: Remedies For Cough In Babies ]

3. High Pitched Squeaky Sound:

It is also known as stridor or laryngomalacia, and the condition is common among infants, sometimes even newborns. An accumulation of excessive tissue around the baby’s larynx can trigger the sound, and the condition can worsen.

4. A Deep Cough:

When a large section of the bronchi is blocked, it can lead to a deep cough while sleeping.

5. Labored And Fast Breathing:

The condition occurs due to mucus in the lungs, which leads to difficulty in breathing. It can result from issues such as pneumonia, or infection in the lungs.

6. Wheezing Sound:

This occurs due to a blockage in the bronchioles that lead to the production of wheezing sounds when the baby tries to breathe while asleep. This situation, if left untreated, can lead to bronchiolar asthma as your baby grows up.

[ Read: Wheezing In Babies ]

When To Consult A Doctor

Although newborns sometimes make noises and grunt while breathing, you should not take it for granted and completely ignore if there is any change from the normal sleeping pattern. If your baby exhibits any untoward signs, consult your doctor. Some common signs that need immediate medical attention, include:

  • If your baby is breathing at more than 60 breaths per minute.
  • Continuous grunts and noises at the end of each breath.
  • Any symptom of an increased effort for breathing, such as flared nostrils.
  • High pitched sounds or barking coughs while sleeping.
  • Deeper than usual retractions in the chest muscles while your baby breaths.
  • Pauses in breathing that are longer than the average five seconds.
  • The appearance of a blue, triangle shaped pattern on the forehead of the baby, indicating the condition when the blood is not getting sufficient levels of oxygen.


Here are some tips for you to help your baby breath well, while he sleeps.

  • Keep a record of your baby’s breathing pattern, so that it’s easier for you to track any changes in it.
  • Time your baby’s breaths per minute. The information will help your pediatrician.

Grunting and making infrequent noises are common to most babies. If the frequency of the problems increases, visit the pediatrician immediately.

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