Baby Grunting: Reasons, Signs and Treatment

Is it Normal for a Newborn to Grunt?

Newborns don’t talk, but they have a language of their own, which they use to communicate with their parents. But sometimes they make certain strange noises which can be a cause of worry for their parents. If you have a newborn in your house, the occasional grunts coming from him might make you think that he is in pain, and obviously, you will worry. Is it normal, or is there a reason for concern? If your newborn grunts, you should consult a doctor immediately. In this post, we’ll delve into the world of baby grunting, explore its normalcy and potential causes, and offer some helpful home remedies.

What Is Baby Grunting?

Baby grunting refers to the noises babies make when they seem to be pushing or straining, often accompanied by a reddened face and a tense body. These sounds can be reminiscent of an adult’s efforts during a tough workout. This is often given the name of grunting baby syndrome (GBS). Don’t worry, it is common and rarely indicate anything serious.

Why Do Newborns Grunt?

Parents, especially new, wonder to themselves, ‘Why does my baby grunt so much?’ ‘Why is my baby grunting while eating?’ Usually, newborns grunt grunt when they have issues related to respiration. Sometimes, a baby may make a strange noise if he has digestion problems, but that noise should not be confused with grunting. Grunting is related to respiratory issues, and if your baby grunts, you must take your baby to the doctor as soon as possible.

A newborn baby

Is it Normal for a Newborn to Grunt?

Usually, a baby grunts because his organs are still developing. What really happens is that as he uses the diaphragm muscles to move the bowel, it puts pressure on the voice box or larynx, which results in grunting. The grunting that happens because of this process is pathological (it could be because of some physical or mental injury). By this, a newborn tries to prevent the collapse of the alveoli. A baby may even produce noises if he has gas troubles, but it is not the same as grunting. However, if the grunting is persistent after birth, it should be observed on time and treat carefully.

Causes of Grunting in Infants

There is nothing wrong in asking, “Why does my newborn grunts a lot?’ Babies make different noises for different things. Although babies usually grunt if they have a problem in their respiratory system, sometimes, they may even grunt because of other problems. Read on to learn the causes of grunting in babies.

1. Respiratory Problems

Neonatal respiratory distress is a condition that occurs when a baby’s respiratory organs are not matured completely. This is more likely to happen in premature babies, but it can even happen to babies who have had normal birth as well. If a baby has respiratory issues, along with grunting, you will notice some other signs, too, such as unusual breathing movements, skin turning blue, and nasal flaring. These signs are usually a response to hypothermia.

2. Delay in the Development of Organs

Sometimes, premature babies may have organs that are not matured or must be still developing; hence they may grunt.

3. Sepsis

Sepsis is a serious condition where a baby is affected by an infection that runs in the blood. This condition is accompanied by other signs like loud grunting, which happens because of breathing difficulty. Sepsis can be one reason for intercoastal retractions, in which a baby shows signs of distress like grunting.

4. Bowel Movement

Due to underdeveloped abdominal muscles, babies grunt during bowel movements to push the stools out.A successful bowel movement when a baby grunts is not a sign of constipation. However, when they turn red without a successful bowel movement, it indicates constipation.

5. Communication

Babies also grunt as a means of communication or get attention of their caregivers.

6. Sleep Transition

You may find that your baby grunts in sleep. This is because when they transition between sleep cycles. Grinting while sleeping is usually not a cause for concern and can be a indication that your baby is transitioning from deep sleep to a lighter sleep stage.

Are There Any Home Remedies for Grunting?

No, there are no home remedies for grunting, and you shouldn’t try anything on your own to stop your baby from grunting. Most often, babies grunt because of pathological issues (physical or mental issues), so you should take them to a doctor and get them treated.

1. Change in Feeding Routine

If your little munchkin’s grunting is due to gastrointestinal discomfort, try adjusting their feeding routine. Burping your baby frequently during feeds can help prevent excess gas, which will help reduce chances of grunting.

2. Keep the Baby Upright

To reduce the chances of acid reflux, keep your baby in an upright position for at least 30 minutes after nursing.

3. Use a Humidifier

If nasal congestion is the issue, keep a humidifier in your little one’s room to help keep the air moist and make breathing easier.

4. Gently Massage the Tummy

A gentle tummy massage can provide relief from gas and constipation. Use circular motions to massage your baby’s tummy.

5. Small Feedings

Give your little wonder small feedings at frequent intervals to aid in the easy digestion process.

When to Consult a Doctor?

If your baby grunts because of some serious health issues like a respiratory problem, you must consult a doctor. If you notice the following signs in your baby, take him to a doctor immediately:

  • Difficulty in Breathing: Grunting in infants can be a sign of a medical condition if the baby grunts too often. If you notice that your baby is experiencing difficulty breathing, then you should consult a doctor as it could be a sign of a respiratory condition.

  • Skin Turning Blue: If your baby’s breathing pattern is disrupted unusually, you will notice his skin turning blue. You should take him to a doctor in this case.

  • Signs of Illness: When a baby has some health problem, he might make different noises and may also grunt. When grunting is accompanied by other issues like fever, shortness of breath, and indigestion, then you need to take him to a doctor.

  • Other Symptoms: Infant grunting along with showing other symptoms like lethargy, weight loss, or nasal flaring is a concern and should be checked by a doctor immediately.

FAQ

1. How Long Does Grunting Last in a Baby?

As a baby’s digestive system matures, grunting also decreases. This is usually within the first few months of life.

As a parent, no doubt, you will worry if your baby grunts more than often. But you need not panic, consult a doctor and get this condition treated. Also, if you notice other signs mentioned above along with grunting in your baby, seek medical care urgently.

References/Resources:

1. Lungs/Chest; Stanford Medicine; https://med.stanford.edu/newborns/professional-education/photo-gallery/lungs-chest.html#grunting

2. Understanding Constipation in Infants and Toddlers; Bladder & Bowel UK; https://www.bbuk.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Understanding-childhood-constipation-in-Infants-and-Toddlers.pdf

3. Zea-Vera. A, Ochoa. T. J; Challenges in the diagnosis and management of neonatal sepsis; Journal of Tropial Pediatrics; Oxford Academic; https://academic.oup.com/tropej/article/61/1/1/1647506; February 2015

4. Mathai. S. S, Raju. U, Kanitkar. M; Management of Respiratory Distress in the Newborn; Med J Armed Forces India.; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4922755/; July 2007

5. Dyschezia; Cleveland Clinic; https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/24109-dyschezia

6. Rocha. G. M, Flor-De-Lima. F. S, Guimaraes. H. A; Persistent grunting respirations after birth; Minerva Pediatr.; PubMed; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27607482/; June 2018

Also Read:

White Noise for Baby Sleep
What Your Baby’s First Sounds Mean?
Understanding the Different Types of Baby Cries

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