Baby Grunting While Sleeping: What Every Parent Must Know

Babies are social creatures and they do make a lot of noise. Even while asleep, they tend to create lots of sounds.


A parent must be able to decode some of these sounds since baby cannot talk yet.

One of the most common sounds an infant make while asleep is grunting. This is a deep sound similar to what a hog usually creates; it is guttural and is more common on some kids with certain conditions.


On most cases, a baby’s grunting noise is harmless, such as when he is simply passing poop. Yet you need a good eye and ear  since grunting can also be due to an underlying medical condition.

How can we distinguish the signs of normal grunting versus something that must be consulted with your baby’s doctor?

Baby Grunting While Sleeping: The Why

Newborns have yet to develop a steady breathing pattern the first months of their lives. This is the reason  during a baby’s early weeks, wheezing and grunting can be heard occasionally.

What are the other causes behind these grunting sounds?

1. Random sounds

Grunting can also be simply a random noise baby makes out of pleasure or as a desire to communicate something.

2. Mucus partially obstructing the airway

More often than not, grunting and gurgling sounds are due to mucus, saliva or milk that partially blocks the airway.

You must have a nasal aspirator ready to suction out some liquid out of baby’s nostrils. This will be really helpful since babies are nasal breathers and a partially obstructed nose will give them some difficulty.

A nasal aspirator is usually made of rubber or silicon and is a handy tool to give the baby some relief when they have colds.

3. The baby is just dreaming

During deep sleep, babies are usually quiet and oblivious to their surroundings. Yet in a light sleep state, they tend to move a lot and make some noises such as grunts, wheezing and even short bursts of laughter. This is fairly normal as long as the baby looks at ease.

4. The baby is passing some poop

Babies sometimes make grunting sounds while passing out some poop. This is just a way to exert some force and must cease in a few seconds.

But take note if the baby is making grunting sounds for longer periods of time and with a reddish face, as this can be a sign of constipation.

Grunting: Warning Signs

1. Your baby is born prematurely.

Neonatal respiratory distress coupled with regular grunting sounds is more common for babies that are born prematurely. These babies are those that are born flaccid and sometimes, bluish.

Baby’s lungs have not yet developed completely; there are some fluid remnants at the lungs that cause the grunting sounds. Their breathing is usually erratic.

If your premature-born baby looks like he is taking a great deal of effort just to breathe, looks in distress and if there are a lot of grunting sounds and cessation of breathing for more than 6 seconds, call your doctor immediately.

2. There is evidence of breathing difficulty

Even a full term baby is not immune to respiratory distress. There are some signs that a parent must look out for to determine if their baby is having a breathing difficulty.

Watch out for signs of visible retraction of the baby’s chest, redness of the face, flailing arms movement and flaring of the nostrils. A baby’s breathing rate will also likely increase to more than 70 breaths per minute during a respiratory distress.

3.  There are other signs of illness present

If your baby’s grunting is regular and is present at the end of each breath for longer stretches of time, then be wary. It can be a sign of infection, a possible heart condition or a lung problem. This can be coupled with a bluish cold skin, fever, rashes, or lethargy.


Grunting can be simply normal or on some occasions worrisome; it will depend on a lot of signs. Ask your pediatrician for expert advice if you are unsure about your baby’s current condition.

It will be helpful to have a journal with you and record it your notable observations while the baby is awake and asleep. Jot down what baby has eaten for the day as well as his symptoms. Keep this record updated and have it with you during your next doctor’s visit.

Some symptoms might seem harmless and yet, it can be significant for your child’s doctor.

Be informed and be a keen observant. Do not take everything as it is; ask around for advice and help. It is always better to be thorough since a baby’s first year of life is when he is the most vulnerable.

Take charge and be informed, after all, you must protect your most precious bundle of joy.

Some other weird things that babies may do in their sleep:
Foaming At The Mouth While Sleeping: 5 Reasons Behind
Baby Sleeps With Eyes Open: What Expert Say About It


Sarah Morgan

Chief editor of and striving mom-extraordinaire.Let me share and inspire you with my daily struggles to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.

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