What Are Common Sounds of a Newborn Breathing?

Learn what noises are normal for your baby

Sleeping Baby with Hat
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When you bring your newborn home, you might be concerned about the weird sounds he makes with his breathing. Despite the fact that your newborn is cute and adorable and so very little, sometimes the noises he makes are anything but. Newborn breathing can have a distinct set of sounds and patterns, and it is a good idea to become familiar with those sounds so you can discern what sounds "normal" and what might need more attention.

Get to Know Your Newborn Breathing Sounds

One of the best things that you can do is simply spend time with your baby, quietly listening to him breathe. Whether he is awake or asleep, just give a listen to the different noises he makes. His breathing sounds may vary depending on what he is doing (eating, sleeping, quietly awake), and getting to know those different sounds can save you from mistakenly being convinced that something is wrong. If you have a hospital birth, that is one of the reasons why rooming-in can be very advantageous.

Make Note of Sounds and Motions as Baby Breathes

Given the fact that babies are naturally nose-breathers and not mouth-breathers, you'll experience a full range of whistling, gurgling and snorting sounds as their tiny nasal passages breathe in air. As you are getting acquainted with your new bundle of joy, make note of the following behaviors your baby displays in various situations:

  • General sounds and noises he makes as he breathes.
  • The degree to which his nostrils tend to flare as he breathes during different activities.
  • The rhythm of his chest rising and falling.
  • Sounds that are unique to when he feeds from the breast or from the bottle.
  • The sound when he sneezes (don't worry, newborns sneeze frequently for good reasons).
  • How his breathing sounds change as you change his position.

Perfectly Normal Baby Breathing Noises

So after some time observing your precious bundle, you'll begin to see that he really does make lots of different noises, that are generally no cause for alarm. Some sounds you might hear include:

  • Gurgling: This is due to saliva pooling at the back of the mouth.
  • Snorts: You may hear these if your newborn is in deep sleep
  • Hiccups: Babies are prone to hiccups, both when they are in the womb and when they join the world.
  • Whistling: Because the newborn nasal passage is so narrow, you'll often hear whistling as he draws in a breath.

Periodic Breathing and Newborns

Another perfectly normal breathing pattern you should be aware of is called periodic breathing. You'll see this marked pattern when your newborn is asleep. He'll cycle through rapid breathing, shallow breathing and short pauses of a few seconds. This trend is nothing to be concerned about. It will not affect your baby's coloring or heart rate.

Now take a deep breath yourself and get to know all of your baby's funny sounds.


Maclean JE, Fitzgerald DA, Waters KA. Developmental Changes in Sleep and Breathing Across Infancy and Childhood. Paediatric Respiratory Reviews. 2015;16(4):276-284. doi:10.1016/j.prrv.2015.08.002.