When Your Baby’s Breathing Pauses During Sleep

One of the most frightening things for a parent is to be listening to your baby sleeping blissfully via the baby monitor, and then hear it just stop altogether.

You expect the breathing to pick back up right away, but it doesn’t. In fact, it can take as much as 15 seconds before your baby starts breathing again. In parent years, that seems like an eternity. Those can be the 15 scariest seconds of your parenthood.

The good news is that your baby’s little pause is fairly common. In fact, doctors have even come up with a name for this phenomenon: “Periodic Breathing.” Periodic breathing is just something that happens up until about 6 months of age. (After 6 months of age, it’s not especially common and you should talk to your baby’s doctor if she’s still doing it.)

According to experts, a baby’s breathing can follow this kind of a patter as much as five percent of the time during sleep. These kinds of breathing pauses are more common in babies that were born prematurely, and they may experience it as much as ten percent of the time during sleep.

If you’re worried that your baby has stopped breathing, you can touch her to see whether or not she responds. If she doesn’t respond, she may be experiencing apnea, and you should immediately respond.

If your baby isn’t breathing and you have someone else nearby, perform infant CPR immediately while the other personal calls 911. If no one else is around, perform infant CPR for two minutes and then call for help. Pick back up with CPR until help arrives.

Most of the time, irregular breathing isn’t a life-threatening event. Still, you need to make sure you’re paying attention to whether your baby is experiencing periodic breathing or whether he’s in distress. If you’re concerned about his breathing patterns, talk to your doctor.