Newborn Wheezing During Feeding

Wheezing can be a symptom of a number of issues, most of which are not serious. Feeding exposes the child to factors that may be causing the respiratory problems. Whether you breast or bottle feed, allergies are still a concern. The wheezing may also be unrelated to the feeding. If you are unsure if the baby is getting enough air, call for emergency assistance.

Newborns tend to breathe through their noses. (Image: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Nasal Congestion

A baby who is feeding cannot breathe through the mouth. If your infant has mucus clogging the nostrils, you may notice a wheezing sound. This is from air trying to pass the plugs in the nostrils. Use a bulb syringe to clear the blockage in the nose before each feeding. Once the nose is free from debris, your baby will be able to breathe better through the nostrils as he feeds whether using the breast or a bottle.


Allergies occur when the body reacts to something with which it comes into contact as dangerous. This reaction creates antibodies. The next time this person is exposed to the same substance, the antibodies release histamines and that results in allergy symptoms. Wheezing is one indication that an allergy exists. An allergic reaction in a newborn may indicate a food allergy, especially if the wheezing occurs during feeding. Breast-feeding is one way to manage a newborns exposure to potential allergens, but it is not foolproof.

Food Allergies

An infant who breast feeds has less exposure to common food allergens than a baby on a formula diet. However, the food the mother eats can affect the child. A mom who drinks cow's milk can pass the protein to the infant through her breast. Breast-feeding moms should avoid triggers such as nuts, eggs and shellfish, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Bottle-fed babies may be allergic to the formula and this may cause wheezing.


Asthma is a chronic condition that causes wheezing in a newborn. This is due to irritation and swelling in the airways, reports the Baby Center website. Asthma attacks generally result from a trigger. Triggers can be food allergies or something in the environment where you are feeding your baby. For example, dust in the room can be enough to cause wheezing in an asthmatic baby. Breathing will be rapid and may produce a wheezing sound. An acute attack is a medical emergency. If the newborn develops a bluish hue on the skin or nail beds, call 911.

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