How to Tell if Your Baby’s Breathing is Normal

How to tell is your baby is breathing normallyThough it may sound scary, it’s actually normal for your baby to experience short pauses in breathing while she sleeps. Many newborns have pauses of 5-10 seconds between breaths, especially those born prematurely. While sleeping, babies may breathe slower or faster for a period of time before returning to a normal breathing rate. With all these changes, how do you know if your baby’s breathing is normal?

Is It Normal?

According to the Infant & Children Sleep Apnea Awareness Foundation, a good rule of thumb is that a pause lasting longer than 15 seconds is cause for concern. Pauses this long may be a sign of sleep apnea, which is a common but potentially serious condition for infants.

Further signs of apnea include coughing or gasping for air at the end of a long pause, or a slight blue tint to your baby’s skin as she sleeps.

If you suspect your child may be experiencing sleep apnea, consult with your physician right away. He or she may recommend studying your baby in a sleep lab to better understand her patterns and make an accurate diagnosis.

What about noisy breathing? Just like adults that snore, babies sometimes make quite a bit of noise when they breathe.

Infants breathe primarily through their noses to allow for eating and breathing at the same time. So, if there’s mucous in their tiny noses, it can often making breathing difficult and loud. This can be corrected by clearing their nostrils.

As for abnormal breathing noises, experts say there are several things to watch out for. A deep or “barking” cough is likely a sign of blockage like mucous in your baby’s airway.

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A raspy-sounding breath may be a condition called tracheomalacia. According to the National Institutes of Health, this uncommon condition occurs because the baby’s airway is soft and has not yet fully hardened. Short, labored breathing may be a sign of pneumonia.

If your baby’s noisy breathing persists, or if she seems to be struggling to get enough oxygen, consult with your doctor immediately. While infants have different breathing patterns than adults, you’ll quickly learn what’s normal for your baby and will likely be able to spot any out-of-the-ordinary breathing conditions quickly.

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