Among all the squeaks, grunts, snorts and wails, you probably have a tune for everything your baby attempts to communicate with you. At your baby’s young age, however, every sound, new or old, seems to be of concern. And for most parents figuring out what the real cause is of monumental importance.

Your newborn’s breathing tends to be noisier than what you are commonly used to. Breathing as most of us know, has to be silent and smooth flowing. Since your newborn sleeps pretty much around the clock, you notice breathing during sleep to be noisy as well. You usually associate snoring with an overworked or drunken adult, then why is your little one echoing throughout the house when she sleeps?

What is considered normal?

It might be reassuring to know that most of the sounds your baby makes are considered normal at this phase. (Yes, and that includes crying!) The primary reason your baby snores when asleep or sometimes even when awake, is mainly because their small airways are still adjusting to breathing outside the womb.

Your baby will be breathing at a much faster rate than you are. This is approximately 40 – 60 breaths per minute. A baby’s airways are much smaller and still developing even after birth. These small airways have yet to get accustomed to removing mucus and fluids build up in the airway passages. The reflexes that clear these up are still in the developing phase.

Another thing to consider is, when your baby is laying down the secretions tend to stay in the upper airway. Therefore as your baby takes in air, it flows through all these secretions making the breath sounds more noisy.

Most of the noises your baby is making when awake or while sleeping, are usually inconsistent. They come and go as the day progresses. More saliva or mucus build up increases the noise. You will also observe that the noises are more frequent after long crying spells.

Feeding: A Noisy Affair

While feeding your baby, you would expect the noisy breathing to subside. It is known that milk softens mucus, however, you may notice that your baby grunts or even snorts while feeding. This is because babies are primarily nose breathers. This means that even while feeding they are able to take in air into their lungs.

However, this air is passing through the milk ingested and possibly saliva and mucus at the back of your baby’s throat. Keeping in mind the fact that these airways are tiny, all these sounds while feeding is considered normal. Unless your baby is not taking in milk or is taking frequent breaks during a feeding session to breath, there is no need to be concerned.

My Doc said something about Laryngomalacia

The larynx, commonly known as the “voice box”, is where most of your baby’s cries and coos originate from. In a condition frequently mentioned by doctors, laryngomalacia is a weakness noted in the cartilage of the larynx. With this condition, the noisy breathing is consistent and not on and off like normally noted. It is more commonly observed when your baby breathes in air.

This condition gets better on its own. There is no need to be concerned. Laryngomalacia is common among little ones and usually resolves itself by 12 – 18 months.

When will the noisy breathing subside?

Breathing for your baby, unlike the simple inhaling and exhaling you are used to, seems to be a very complex event. You may also notice gentle vibrations in your baby’s chest and abdomen while she breathes. This is mainly due to the air flowing through the upper airway through her larynx to the lungs. If there is more mucus or secretions the vibrations will be a lot more.

Snoring will be noticed at a high intensity for a few weeks right after your baby is born. The noises and grunting will subside after a few weeks. But these can be noticed up to the first six months of your baby’s life.

It gets better with time as your baby starts swallowing her secretions. She will also get accustomed to breathing from her mouth occasionally.

When should I visit with my pediatrician?

Most of the time snoring and the noisy breathing concerns parents and they rush to the doctor as soon as their baby is born. One must not usually do this, but there are some red flag signs that you should ideally watch out for-

  • Increase in breathing rate: Breathing rate increases to more than 60 per minute.
  • Additional noises when your baby breathes: This is mainly a wheezing sound or a hoarse breathing sound. Your little baby may wake up from her sleep to catch her breath. This is something that requires medical attention.
  • Putting in an extra effort to breathe: You may notice that your baby’s nose is enlarging more than usual, and she is struggling to catch her breath. Another reason for concern is when your baby is pulling in her chest excessively with each breath. You should schedule a doctor’s appointment immediately.
  • Evident signs of an illness: Fever, cough, “colds” and a decrease in appetite are all tell tale signs of something that isn’t right. You should visit your doctor without hesitation in such cases.

As highlighted above, your baby’s noisy breathing is nothing to be concerned about on most occasions. The noise that your baby makes while she sleeps is really not bothering her at all. Most of the time she is going to indicate whether she needs to be fed or changed with her high pitched cry. Though in cases of concern, never hesitate to consult your pediatrician.