Newborn Breathing Fast? What To Know

Newborn Breathing Fast? What To Know

Is your newborn breathing fast? While babies breathe faster than kids and adults, this can still come as a surprise to new parents. Here’s what you need to know.
Is your newborn breathing fast, mama?

Sometimes, the breathing rate of your brand-new bundle can come as quite a surprise, but, usually, there’s no reason to be concerned.

Hold on, mama, and take a breath yourself.

We’re here to answer all of your newborn fast-breathing FAQs.

In this article: 📝

  • Is it normal for a newborn to breathe fast?
  • When should I worry about my newborn’s breathing?
  • What to do if baby is breathing fast?

Is it normal for a newborn to breathe fast?

Yep. It’s totally normal.

Babies breathe much faster than older children and adults.

While adults take between 12 and 20 breaths a minute, babies take between 40 and 60 breaths.

And when they sleep? Is newborn breathing fast while sleeping normal? It sure is.

While it’s slower than when they’re awake, babies still take between 30 and 40 breaths a minute when they’re asleep.

Most of this is explained by your baby’s physiology.

Remember that they’re still learning to breathe after being in the womb, where they were receiving five-star service, with their oxygen delivered directly via the umbilical cord.

Now they’re out in the world, their little lungs and muscles are still developing and, at first, they’re mostly breathing through their nose.

You might notice that your little one’s breathing differs from yours in other ways, too.

Newborns sometimes take what might feel like quite long pauses between breaths—as much as 5 to 10 seconds.

This is called periodic breathing, and while it’s totally normal, the breaks between breaths shouldn’t last longer than 10 seconds.

If they do, get in touch with your doctor.

Observe your little one’s breathing when they’re healthy and relaxed.

Knowing what’s normal for them will help you identify anything out of the ordinary.

When should I worry about my newborn’s breathing?

If your baby’s breathing is very quick in the first day or two of life, they might have something called transient tachypnea of the newborn.

This is a short-term condition (hence “transient”) and is usually treated quickly and effectively while your little one is still in hospital.

If they’re older than a couple of days, be aware of changes to your newborn’s breathing rate or pattern. Speak to your doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • Rapid or irregular breathing. We know, we’ve just said that both rapid and irregular breathing is normal. But here, we’re talking about breathing that is too fast or too irregular. Your baby could be in trouble if they’re consistently taking over 60 breaths a minute and if they stop breathing for more than 10 seconds.
  • Flaring nostrils. Your baby’s nostrils will widen if they’re not taking in enough air when they breathe.
  • Blue color. Cyanosis is the technical term for when your skin goes blue. If this happens to your baby, it can be a sign that they’re not getting enough oxygen. It also occurs in babies that have heart problems.
  • Coughing. While your little one is bound to cough if they take in milk too quickly, it might signal a breathing problem if they cough or choke persistently.

Clammy skin, a consistently open mouth, fever, and unusual lethargy or restlessness are also symptoms you should pay attention to, mama.

What to do if baby is breathing fast?

If you notice that your baby’s breathing increases when they’re crying or in pain, that’s usually normal.

The most important thing is that their breath returns to a steadier, more consistent level when they calm down.

Babies will also tend to breathe quicker if they’re overheating.

Always keep your baby out of direct sunlight and dress them lightly if it’s very hot.

If, after trying to cool them down, they’re still breathing very quickly, call a doctor.

You should also call your doctor if you think your baby can’t breathe at all.

If it’s after hours, don’t hesitate to call 911 or take them to the emergency room.

Your baby’s health matters most, mama.

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