Noisy Breathing In Babies

Noisy Breathing In Babies | What Every Parent Should Know

Updated on July 5, 2024

Many parents are worried about noisy breathing in babies while sleeping. They complain about an abnormal breathing sound that comes from either the nose or the chest of the baby. Learn about noisy breathing in babies and its treatment.

Noisy Breathing In Babies

Let’s talk about noisy breathing in infancy or stuffy nose in infancy. You can see that most of the postnatal mothers who come to the follow-up complain of a breathing sound, an abnormal breathing sound that comes from either through the nose or through the chest. These are very common when the baby is either sleeping or when the baby is feeding. It’s a snoring-like sound that the parents complain about during the follow-up.

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Most of these sounds that we see in the follow-up are due to small airway passages of infancy and when compared to that of an adult or a pediatric age group. As you can see in the picture the nasal airways of infancy or small baby is relatively very small. Any obstruction to these nasal airways can create airway turbulence and this turbulence leads to a snoring-like sound.

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It is very similar to water flowing in the river when compared to that of a canal. The flow of water that goes in the river is usually laminar flow and the flow that flows in the river is turbulent. As a result of this turbulence what happens is there is a loud noise coming from the river when compared to that of a canal.

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So these sounds are similar to that of the turbulent flow airflow in the nose. Sometimes the sounds generated in the nose can be conducted into the chest and this creates a false vision that the baby might be having just congestion. Most parents come to me saying that the baby has chest congestion but in fact, they would be having only nasal congestion. This kind of noise or noise structure is never dangerous and it’s not going to cause any problems for the child.

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Most of this noisy breathing will subside as the age of the child increases. Most of these patients will be well would be somewhere between 6 months to 12 months of age. Till then if the baby has difficulty in feeding or sleeping because of these breathing sounds you have to make sure that the baby you are putting some saline drops into the nose. This keeps the airway clear as well as moist.

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Why babies’ breathing sounds different from adults?

  • Babies breathe more through their nostrils than their mouths.
  • The breathing pathways of babies are much smaller and easier to obstruct.
  • Their chest wall is more pliable than an adult’s.
  • Their respiration isn’t fully developed.

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Babies can breathe fast, take long pauses between breaths, and make unusual noises. Usually, there’s nothing to worry about, but parents and caregivers may worry anyway.


Hope the above information cleared all your worries and doubts about noisy breathing in infancy. It is a fact that irregular breathing and noisy breathing in babies can be very alarming and may cause anxiety in parents or caregivers. Don’t get panic. First, be calm and look at your baby to see whether they look like they’re in distress. If you’re concerned about your baby’s breathing, never hesitate to reach out to your doctor.

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References & Credits: Dr Srinivasa Murthy C L, Aster Women and Children Hospital, Bengaluru

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