Hiccups, Sneezing and Other Breathing Noises

Hiccups, Sneezing and Other Breathing Noises

Here's what you need to know about the different breathing noises babies can make and the reasons behind them. Find out more information here.

Newborn babies can make funny little breathing noises that are not always even and smooth. Sometimes their breathing can seem very shallow and barely noticeable, while at other time it can be quite deep and rapid. When your baby falls asleep, she can breathe deeply and quickly for a few seconds, before her breathing slows right down.

breathing noises

Source: iStock

Babies are surprisingly noisy breathers at times. Snoring, snuffling, snorting and grunting are all perfectly normal to hear from a healthy baby. The noises can be disturbing for new parents however. Here’s what you need to know about the different breathing noises babies can make and the reasons behind them.


breathing noises

Source: iStock

Rarely, a baby will have constant noisy, rattly breathing, which often alarms parents, though doesn’t seem to concern baby at all. This is usually caused by a ‘floppy’ voice box  – a condition that usually corrects itself over the first two years as your baby’s vocal cords tighten with growth – and is nothing serious. Do talk to your GP or paediatrician, though, if you are concerned.


Hiccups, Sneezing and Other Breathing Noises

Source: iStock

It is normal for your newborn babies to sneeze frequently. It is her way of clearing airborne fluff, dust and mucous from her nose as well as milk, which can go up into her nose when she vomits. It is very common and nothing to worry about. If you notice other symptoms such as a fever or cough you may need to have your baby checked by your doctor.


At times, your baby’s breathing can sound very snuffly, loud, and almost bubbly at times, as if she has a blocked nose. Babies are natural ‘nose-breathers’, and as they have small nasal passages, it is common for their nose to become slightly blocked with accumulated mucus and milk. Your baby will usually clear her own nose by sneezing regularly. As long as she is not distressed by it, and can feed without frequently having to pull off the breast or bottle to breathe through her mouth, there is nothing to be worried about.


Babies hiccup quite frequently in utero, and they usually continue to hiccup once they are born. This is very normal, and is generally caused by the sudden, irregular contractions of their immature diaphragm, the muscle that supports their lungs. As your baby grows older, her hiccups will lessen as her diaphragm and the muscles between her ribs and in her abdomen, become stronger and more synchronised.

Most babies are ‘happy hiccupers’ and will be untroubled by them. Hiccupss are not caused by how you are feeding or burping your baby – or not burping them, as the case may be!. However, you may find that your baby get the hiccups more often when she is feeding. You don’t need to do anything special when your baby has the hiccups, as they will usually stop on their own. However, if you want to try and stop them, there are a few things that might help:

  • Sitting your baby up, until the hiccups settle.
  • Offering her the breast/bottle/dummy again, as swallowing may help to stop the hiccups.
  • Slightly elevating the head of the cot or bassinette. This will help prevent milk coming up with the hiccups. Likewise, you can place your baby in the pram with the head section elevated into a semi-reclining position.


Many babies will hiccup in their sleep. This doesn’t worry them and shouldn’t be a reason to pick them up or disturb them.

This article is based on an article that appears on pregnancy and birth expert www.birth.com.au for Kidspot, Australia’s best resource for newborn health.

This article was first published on Kidspot and was republished on theAsianparent with permission.

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