Newborns’ breathing sounds and looks different from adult breathing because:
- Babies breathe more through their nose.
- Their airways are smaller and may easily get obstructed.
- Babies' chest walls are more flexible than adults' (they're mostly made of cartilage).
- Babies' respiration function isn't fully developed. They are still learning how to use their lungs and associated muscles.
- Meconium and amniotic fluid may still be present in their respiratory tract immediately after birth.
Infants take about 30 to 60 breaths per minute on average. Newborns' breathing may slow down to 20 breaths per minute when they sleep. When your baby is 6 months old, they take about 26 to 40 breaths per minute.
Newborns may also breathe rapidly and then stop breathing for up to 8 to 10 seconds. Most newborn breathing irregularities resolve by themselves within a few months.
Pay close attention to and become familiar with your baby's normal breathing patterns and sounds. If there's an abnormal breathing sound, it may indicate a potential health problem. According to estimates, about 16 to 29 percent of neonatal intensive care admissions occur because of respiratory distress.