Mums, Watch Out for This Sign of Breathing Difficulty In Babies

When a mummy noticed her newborn was breathing in a very strange way, she knew something was wrong.

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The symptoms of respiratory illnesses are harsh in general. But when a baby contracts bronchiolitis, the outcome can be severe if not treated correctly. The problem is that symptoms of respiratory diseases can be sneaky, especially in babies. One mum wants to educate all parents on a subtle, overlooked sign of baby breathing difficulties that indicates potential complications. 

What Are the Different Types of Breathing Difficulties in Babies?

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There are many different types of breathing difficulties in babies. It’s important to know what they are so that you can get help for your baby as soon as possible.

There are three main types of breathing difficulties in babies:

  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome is when a baby has trouble breathing because their lungs are not fully developed.
  • Bronchiolitis is an infection that affects the airways and causes inflammation and mucus production.
  • Pneumonia is an infection that affects the lungs and results from bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

What Causes Breathing Problems in Newborn Babies?

The causes of breathing difficulties in babies can vary, but here are some common ones to keep in mind:

Congenital Defects

These defects present at birth and can include any number of things, including heart problems, cleft palate, and Down syndrome.

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Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections affect the lungs by causing them to produce excess mucus, which can lead to a buildup of fluid in the lungs. It results from various viruses, including those associated with the common cold.

Infantile Asthma

It is a chronic condition where the airways become inflamed and constricted, making it difficult for air to get into the lungs and out again. It is most often diagnosed between two months and three years old.

Signs of Breathing Problems in Babies

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Breathing is essential to your baby’s health. If your baby has difficulty breathing, it could indicate an underlying illness.

Here are some symptoms that may indicate that your baby is having difficulty breathing:

  • Your baby’s chest moves up and down more than usual.
  • Your baby has trouble talking or crying.
  • Your baby has difficulty keeping up with their usual activities, such as playing or running around.
  • Your baby has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early in the morning.

Baby Breathing Fast

There are many things you can do to make sure your baby is breathing fast at night.

First, make sure you’re checking the right thing. It’s normal for babies to breathe fast when they’re sleeping, but it’s important to make sure they don’t have apnea—a condition where they stop breathing while sleeping. If you suspect that your baby has apnea, talk to your pediatrician.

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If your baby is just breathing fast while they sleep, try these tips:

  • Make sure they aren’t too hot. If they’re too warm, their bodies will work harder to cool down, which will make their breathing more rapid.
  • Be sure there aren’t any blankets or pillows in the crib with them that could obstruct their airways or cause them discomfort as they move around at night.
  • Make sure there isn’t anything blocking their nose from breathing properly (like a stuffed animal).
  • Don’t cover them up completely—give them room to move around so that they can regulate their temperature effectively on their own!

Baby Breathing Through Mouth

Babies will often breathe through their mouths when they need to use their lungs more than usual. This can happen because of a cold or other respiratory infections, because of crying or coughing, or just because your baby has been sleeping for too long and needs some extra oxygen.

Babies can also breathe through their mouths if they have reflux, which is when stomach acid flows up into the esophagus and causes irritation in the throat area.

If you notice that your baby is breathing through their mouth regularly, talk with your pediatrician about whether or not you should visit an urgent care clinic.

Baby Breathing Sounds Like Phlegm

It is common for babies to make phlegm-like sounds when they breathe. This sound can be heard when you place your ear next to the baby’s chest, or it may be a low-pitched sound that you can hear without putting your ear on their chest. If you hear this sound, it is not a cause for concern. The phlegm-like sounds are caused by breathing through the nose and mouth at the same time.

Baby Breathing Heavily

When a baby is breathing heavily, it’s important to take note. The baby may have a respiratory tract infection or other condition that requires treatment.

The first thing to do when you notice your child breathing heavily is to check their temperature. If they have a fever, they may have contracted an infection that requires treatment with antibiotics. You should also see your child’s doctor if you notice their breath smells bad or their eyes are yellowish or discolored.

If your child does not have a fever, then they may be congested due to allergies or sinus problems. This can be treated with decongestants and nasal sprays, but you should still speak with your doctor about it so that they can make sure there are no underlying issues causing the congestion in the first place!

If there is no sign of an infection, but your child still seems to be struggling with breathing heavily, then it’s possible that they have asthma or some other respiratory condition that requires further medical attention. You can ask your doctor when you see them next if this seems like something they might need further investigation for!


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5 Cardinal Signs of Respiratory Distress in Infants

Respiratory distress is a serious condition that can be life-threatening. It can occur in infants and adults, but it’s especially important to watch out for this condition in infants.

Here are the five cardinal signs of respiratory distress in infants:

  • Fast breathing very soon after birth.
  • Grunting “ugh” sound with each breath.
  • Changes in color of lips, fingers and toes.
  • Widening (flaring) of the nostrils with each breath.
  • Chest retractions – skin over the breastbone and ribs pulls in during breathing.

Normal Baby Breathing vs Retractions

Newborns need to get the oxygen they need. But how do you know if your baby’s breathing is normal?

Normal Baby Breathing

Your baby should breathe easily and regularly, without any problems. When your newborn takes a breath, his chest should rise and fall. The movement should be easy to see and feel. It should not be laboured or difficult for your baby to breathe.


If your baby has retraction, his chest wall moves inward when he breathes in. Retractions are normal in healthy newborns but can signify infection or other health problems in older babies or children.

In general, if you think your baby might have trouble breathing or other symptoms of illness, it is always best to contact your doctor immediately so they can help determine what is going on with your little one!

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What Are the Symptoms of Breathing Difficulties in Babies?

 When you have a newborn, it can be difficult to tell when something is wrong. You’re probably already sleep-deprived and overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for your little one, so it’s essential to know the signs of breathing difficulties in babies.

While some parents may worry about their newborn’s breathing, most babies with breathing problems don’t experience symptoms until they’re three months old. When symptoms do develop, they usually appear in the following ways:

  • Frequent wheezing or coughing
  • Inability to feed properly
  • Irritability or fussiness
  • Fast breathing (more than 60 times per minute)
  • Trouble sleeping or waking up frequently at night
  • Increased work of breathing (e.g., grunting)
  • Low oxygen levels in the blood (called hypoxia)
  • Cyanosis (blue colouration of the skin and lips)
  • Apnea (pauses in breathing)

Child Breathing Problems at Night

One of the most common sleep problems is when a child has trouble breathing at night. It is due to asthma, allergies, or other underlying health conditions.

If your child has trouble breathing at night, there are a few things you can do to help them:

  • Make sure they have an inhaler with them if they have asthma.
  • Ensure that their rooms are smoke-free and well ventilated.
  • Consider using a humidifier.

Parents, do remember always to seek medical advice should you find something abnormal with your little one. Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts!

Updates by Pheona Ilagan

Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.

Written by

Kevin Wijaya Oey