Most parents expect their infant to sleep soundly without making any noises. Then, a snorting and snoring infant surprises them and they wonder if this is normal or if there is something wrong with their baby. In general, infants will make all kinds of sounds while breathing during the first few months of life. This may include whistling, snoring, snuffling, irregular breaths, pauses, and more, but these are generally normal. Of course, there are some warning signs you should look out for and never worry about calling your pediatrician or visiting the emergency room if you are worried.
When a baby is sleeping it is completely normal for their breathing to slow to 20-40 times each minute. This can include a series of fast breaths followed by a period of rest, up to 10 seconds, before the next breath is taken. This is frightening to many parents who are worried about SIDS however this is actually referred to as period breathing and is considered normal. Abnormal breathing in an infant does exist sometimes, though, and parents should look out for this. It includes breathing of more than 60 breaths per minute or pauses that last longer than 10 seconds. When babies are agitated or too hot their breathing may be affected, but usually by the time they have cooled off and calmed down their breathing returns to normal.
If a baby is truly having difficulty breathing then their nostrils will flare and their chest will pull in at the ribs, below the breastbone, and the like. If a baby looks blue around the mouth and face then he is not getting enough oxygen. This requires emergency care and the baby should be taken to the hospital immediately.
Babies who choke and/or cough a lot, even when not feeding, should be evaluated for their breathing to make sure all is well. Similarly, babies who moan or grunt a lot should also be checked because they may not be getting enough air.
The best advice is to always play it safe. If you are worried about your baby’s breathing and something doesn’t seem right then head to the emergency room or make an appointment with your pediatrician. A parent’s instinct is strong and if something isn’t right then a parent will be the first to know it.