Unusual Baby Breathing: Why Your Infant Is Breathing Noisily When Asleep?

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Your baby’s breathing pattern could give you sleepless nights. You might discover that your little one truly stops breathing for a good 10 seconds and resumes to take deeper breaths. Sometimes, he even makes snuffly sounds while sleeping, which makes you think whether he is having trouble breathing.

So, how to find out whether your baby is doing fine and there is nothing to worry about?

Baby Breathing

It is normal for infants, especially newborns to take a pause of 5-10 seconds in between breaths. Some babies breathe unnaturally faster or slower before returning to their usual breathing rate. It could be accompanied by grunts or noisy breaths.

Infant Sleep Apnea

Their breaths could alter between fast and deep breathing to shallow breaths, which is referred to as periodic breathing. However, if your baby pauses for more than 10 seconds, it is a cause of concern. Long pauses in breaths area sign of infant sleep apnea, which is a breathing disorder related to sleep.

Sleep apnea is followed by other symptoms like gasping for breath after a long pause and change in the color of their skin to slight blue during sleep. The condition has been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Obesity, Insomnia, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD)1 and is seen more commonly in premature babies.

Consult your doctor immediately if you feel your baby has developed symptoms of sleep apnea.

Noisy Breathing

Your baby may also breathe noisily in sleep, more like how adults snore. Babies usually prefer to breathe through their nose—they only breathe through mouth if they have congestion due to cold and the nasal passage is completely blocked by the mucous.

Sometimes, little mucous in their tiny nose and small nasal cavity can make it difficult to breathe, resulting in noisy and loud breathing. You can clear your baby’s nostrils in such case.

Is My Baby Breathing Normal?

Knowing their breathing patterns, you can check whether your baby is breathing like how most babies usually do. Put your ear near their nose and mouth and listen to their breath. Watch their chest movement closely, whether it is going up and down as they breathe.

Noisy breathing is common in infants, yet, if it persists for a prolonged period, inform the pediatrician when you visit them for routine checkups. They will check your baby’s breathing pattern and assure you that everything is normal. Alternatively, they will suggest the right treatment.

How To Know If They Have Trouble Breathing?

Check whether your baby is struggling to breathe—flaring nostrils, harsh jarring cough, retractions in the chest movement while breathing, grunting and snuffling after each breathe are the signs to look out for. If their breathing pauses for more than 10 seconds, inform your doctor right away.

If you notice your baby’s lips, forehead or nose tinting blue, take them to the doctor immediately as it could mean their body is not receiving sufficient oxygen.

You will be more aware of your baby’s breathing pattern over time and will be able to figure out what is normal and when to contact your doctor. As a new parent, you might wake up in every few hours to check on your baby’s breathing. Eventually, as they will grow the need for that will reduce.

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Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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