Frequency of Yawning in Infants

Portrait of a yawning baby girl on leather background
A yawning baby. (Image: todsaherb/iStock/Getty Images)

Yawning is a reflex that is natural in infants and persists into adulthood. The University of Maryland Medical Center describes yawning as an involuntary opening of the mouth usually accompanied by breathing in a large breath. If your infant is tired, drowsy or fatigued, it is normal to see him yawn. If he is yawning excessively, concern should be taken.

Function

According to Nationwide Children's Hospital, yawning is the natural reflex that is initiated when your body requires more oxygen. The big breath taken during a yawn will provide the needed oxygen to your lungs. If your infant is constantly tired or yawning, you should speak with a physician to make sure there is not an underlying cause.

Frequency

You may see your infant yawn from the day she is born. The article, "Yawning and Behavioral States in Premature Infants", explains that yawning frequency is usually seen during the time when your infant is not fully awake or asleep and is considered to be in the drowse state. While it is not uncommon to see a yawn or two during this time, watch your child to assure that she is getting adequate oxygen.

Significance

Yawning may help battle tiredness in your infant. The increased oxygen flow could increase the arousal levels in your infant. This means that yawning can be your infants attempt at staying awake and also may help other problems associated with a lack of oxygen.

Misconceptions

It is known that yawning can be contagious, and often just seeing or hearing the word may spark a reaction. However, not everyone is affected by this phenomenon. According to Bullfax.com, your infant may not copy you if he sees you yawn. A study has shown that children under 4 as well as autistic children are not affected by contagious yawning.

Considerations

Increased yawning can be a sign of a serious problem such as an aortic dissection or heart problems. Medline Plus states that the vagus nerve reacts with the blood vessels and may cause your infant to yawn. If excessive yawning is seen, contact a doctor so she can be evaluated. The doctor will ask you questions regarding the nature of her yawns, so try and take notes about the amount, time period, location and any other information about her yawning.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.