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HEALTH

Is My Newborn’s Heavy Breathing Normal?

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Newborns often have irregular breathing patterns that concern new parents. They can breathe fast, take long pauses between breaths, and make unusual noises.

Newborns’ breathing looks and sounds different from adults because they breathe more through their nostrils than their mouth and their breathing pathways are much smaller and easier to obstruct.

Their chest wall is also more pliable than an adult’s because it’s made of mostly cartilage.

Their respiration isn’t fully developed since they still have to learn to use their lungs and the associated breathing muscles and they may still have amniotic fluid and meconium in their airways right after birth.

Usually, there’s nothing to worry about, but parents often do anyway. Parents should pay careful attention to a newborn’s typical breathing pattern. This way they can learn what’s normal to be able to tell later if something is not.

Normal newborn breathing

Typically, a newborn takes 30 to 60 breaths per minute. This can slow down to 20 times per minute while they sleep. At 6 months, babies breathe about 25 to 40 times per minute. An adult, meanwhile, takes about 12 to 20 breaths per minute.

Newborns can also take rapid breaths and then pause for up to 10 seconds at a time. All of this is very different from adult breathing patterns, which is why new parents might be alarmed.

Within a few months, most of the irregularities of newborn breathing resolve themselves. Some newborn breathing issues are more common in the first few days, such as transient tachypnea. But after 6 months, most breathing issues are probably due to allergies or a short-term illness like the common cold.

What breathing noises may indicates

It’s important that you become familiar with your baby’s normal breathing sounds and patterns. If something sounds different or wrong, listen carefully so you can explain it to your pediatrician.

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