Why is my baby’s breathing so noisy?

It's actually normal! Here's why little ones grunt, snort and whistle while they sleep

Noisy baby breathing: What you need to know

Don’t be alarmed, babies are noisy sleepers, and here we explain why

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You may imagine a serene little baby would sleep soundly in silence, but this isn’t actually the case.

Babies are in fact very noisy sleepers and there’s a reason why.

It’s not so easy for little ones to breathe in and out like us adults can do. Their tiny lungs and nose were just introduced to the concept of inhaling air a matter of weeks ago. 

Listening to your newborn baby snort, squeak and sneeze repeatedly is perfectly normal and nothing at all for you to be concerned about.
All those snorts and grunts are heard because young babies breathe through their noses. Breathing through their nose allows them to be able to breathe and feed at the same time. However, it can become an issue when something is blocking the air route. It’s not a natural reaction for newborns to open their mouth as an alternate route for oxygen. So if a little dried milk or mucus is hanging out in their nostrils, it will make a whistle, a sniffle, or even a snort. If your baby appears uncomfortable with it, you can relieve their stuffy nose with saline drops.

You may notice that your baby’s breathing is as variable as your own — slower when he’s relaxed, faster when he’s excited.

Babies can take over 60 breaths a minute — much faster than adults — and it’s perfectly normal.

You may also notice that there are occasional pauses in their breathing when they sleep. A sleeping newborn can hold their breath for five to 10 seconds, and then start breathing regularly again as if nothing happened.

What would be cause for concern in baby’s breathing?

If your baby’s breathing becomes laboured there may be cause for concern. More than 60 breaths per minute, even when calm, or if you hear persistent grunting at the end of inhalations they may be struggling to breathe.  Flaring nostrils may also be a sign they are struggling, or if breathing is hard causing their chest to pull in with each inhalation — you should take them to the doctor. 

And if your baby’s breathing stops for longer than 10 seconds at a time, or they turn blue, call 999 immediately.

Why is my baby’s breathing so noisy?