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Baby & Breathing

author image Christa Miller
Christa Miller is a writing professional with expertise in massage therapy and health. Miller attended San Francisco State University to earn a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing with a minor in journalism and went on to earn an Arizona massage therapy license.
Baby & Breathing
Placing your baby to sleep on his back will reduce his risk of SIDS. Photo Credit ChristinLola/iStock/Getty Images

Until your baby was born, you would never have understood how such a tiny bundle could cause so much stress. With each of her hiccups, grunts, squeaks and cries you are concerned that she isn’t okay and wonder if you should be doing something more to keep her satiated. Even more disconcerting is how odd her breathing patterns seem. Though no amount of reassurance can keep you from watching her like a hawk in her first months, knowing what’s normal will give you a better sense of control in your new role.

Normal Baby Breathing

Baby breathing normally varies from slow to fast depending on his level of excitement. According to The Nemours Foundation, a baby can take over 60 breaths per minute when he’s awake, particularly if he’s just finished crying. A newborn baby may also normally stop breathing completely for 5 to 10 seconds, particularly while he’s sleeping. This pattern, known as periodic breathing, will eventually evolve into a more mature breathing pattern in his first few months. Also, the noises he makes while breathing are typically due to slight nostril blockages such as dried milk and mucus.

Checking In

If you have a baby breathing monitor set up and you still feel the constant need to check your baby’s breathing patterns, BabyCenter.com says to take your vigilance as a sign of how serious you are about your job as a parent. Chances are slight that anything will go wrong, but checking in as often as you feel the need to, rather than fretting about being overly-protective, may ultimately give you more peace of mind.


Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, is the rare but sudden and unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby, typically during sleep. Fewer than one in every 1,000 infants succumbs to SIDS and, as of 2010, SIDS has no warning signs or definite causes. However, the majority of SIDS deaths occur in infants between 2 and 4 months of age and it rarely occurs in infants under 1 month of age or after 6 months of age, according to the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, some factors increase a baby’s chance of dying from SIDS. Making sure your baby isn’t exposed to cigarette smoke, placing him on his back for sleep and ensuring that he isn’t too warm during sleep can lower his risk.

Abnormal Breathing

If your baby breathes at over 60 breaths per minute, even when she’s calm, she may be having breathing trouble, says WhattoExpect.com. Also seek medical help if her nostrils consistently flare, if her chest pulls in as she inhales, if you hear constant grunting sounds at the end of her inhalations or if she stops breathing for longer than 10 second increments.

In an Emergency

If you believe that your baby’s breathing is abnormal, touch his body or rouse him to assess his response. If he doesn’t respond or if his forehead or trunk turn blue, call 911. Learning infant and child CPR in advance will allow you to take action when medical help isn’t immediately available. BabyCenter.com recommends administering CPR for two minutes before you dial 911, or while someone else calls 911, and continuing it while you wait for emergency help to arrive.

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