The amazing jour of motherhood begins from the moment you get to know you are pregnant. But the actual journey starts when to take the little one in your arms for the first time ever. It is a very difficult and challenging task to raise a little one. It is not always a cakewalk.

Babies spend most of their time sleeping after they are born, at least the first week. But it is not as peaceful as we use the term “slept like a baby.” They tend to squirm and grunt, and a newborn grunting and squirming while sleeping is nothing unusual. But it can be scary for new parents who have no idea what they are dealing with.

It might seem like they are not comfortable while they are grunting and squirming in their sleep, but it is a very common phenomenon that happens to almost all newborns. It is better to get to know these habits so that you can keep them safe and sound. Also, It doesn’t matter if you are a first-time parent or if this is your second child; knowing their sleeping patterns is necessary. 

What Is Grunting And Squirming?

What Is Grunting And Squirming

Newborns are not very peaceful sleepers as they squirm and grunt in their sleep, and that is a very common thing among newborns. But these movements, along with the noises they make, often confuse parents. Their neurological system is not developed, and they do not have the maturity t control their movements.

Causes Behind Newborn Grunting And Squirming

Causes Behind Newborn Grunting And Squirming

There are quite a few things that can cause a newborn to squirm and grunt. When they are struggling with bowel movements, blocked nasal track, acid reflux, and difficulty in taking in oxygen can result in newborn grunting and squirming while sleeping. 

Bowel Movements

Bowel Movements

Difficulty in bowel movement can cause something called “grunting baby syndrome.” This is also known as infant dyschezia. In simple words, they are having difficulty in pooping. They are not familiar with regulating the muscles that are needed to let the waste out of their system. They often use the diaphragm muscles instead of using the muscles in their stomach. 

Acid Reflux

Acid Reflux

As they lie on their backs, they suffer from acid reflux. This happens when the milk travels back into the esophagus from the stomach. And this is accompanied by stomach acid. This is what causes them to breathe heavily and squirm because they get uncomfortable.

Oxygen Intake

Oxygen Intake

This is the time when they are developing their muscles as well. Babies grunt and squirm at night when they are developing their breathing muscles. The breathing pattern change, and they start breathing slowly when they are sleeping; this makes them grunt. 

Check on them and see if they are breathing calmly or if there are any signs of stress. If they seem agitated, then it is time you consult a doctor.

Blocked Nasal Track

Blocked Nasal Track

Some babies grunt when their nose is blocked. Their lungs and nose are tiny, and even a little bit of congestion can make them grunt. If you find them struggling to breathe, do consult a doctor and get them checked.

Hunger

Hunger

Babies take time to regulate hunger, and when they get hungry at night, they start making weird noises and trigger extra movements. This can become a regular thing if they make it a habit of sleeping before completing their meal. They cannot settle on an empty stomach. It takes time to regulate the circadian rhythm, but hunger can make them grunt in their sleep.

Pass Gas

Pass Gas

Along with excretion, they have no idea how to deal with gas. Their body is learning to digest the food, move air and nutrients through the digestive system. This can get uncomfortable, and this is when they make the grunt sound.

It generally takes them a few months to get used to the whole process and learn how to get their muscles relaxed in the pelvic region without making the grunting noise.

Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle

Sleep cycles are different for newborns, and they face trouble while transitioning between the sleep cycles. This makes them wake up, squirm and grant, and then fall back asleep. This can be a difficult time for parents but a very normal phenomenon for babies.

Solutions For Newborn Grunting And Squirming While Sleeping

Solutions For Newborn Grunting And Squirming While Sleeping

This is not something alarming, but it can disrupt your sleep and get you concerned. Here are some solutions that you can try.

Anal Stimulation

It is not something that parents are recommended. According to research, this makes their learning process slow, and they start spending on stimulation. Apparently, there is no cure for this other than waiting for their muscles to get developed.

Massage

Massage

Massaging them can get them relaxed and more comfortable and get them to sleep better. Stroke their body, gently move the joints with your hands, and that can help them relax. Put them on a towel and massage them with a little bit of oil.

Clear The Nasal Track.

It is not a very difficult task to get their nasal tract clean. Get a soft tissue and wipe it across their nostrils, and that can lead to sneezing, which will get their nasal passage to open.

Feeding Adjustment

Feeding Adjustment

Try giving them a slightly smaller meal during bedtime, and hold them upright for some time before putting them to sleep. And don’t forget to feed them at night.

Sleeping Environment

Sleeping Environment

The key ingredient for sleeping soundly is comfort. Make sure they are not too tightly wrapped, or they don’t have any loose clothes. Keep the room quiet and dim, and let them rest comfortably.

What Should Concern You?

In general, squirming and grunting are harmless because those are your baby’s way of responding to their body and environment. But it is better to be careful and notice if there are other symptoms along with grunting, which may be an indication of some other issues.

Aspiration

Grunting could be an indication of aspiration. This happens when the airway is blocked by something; for example, when the baby fails to swallow something or when they try to bring up the milk but fail to swallow it and choke on it. Aspiration may cause coughing, wheezing, and lung infection. If you are worried about aspiration, then contact with a pediatrician.

Respiration Issues

Often, raspy breathing is an indication that your baby is having some respiratory issues. Some of the symptoms include:

  • If they are grunting in a rhythmic pattern while breathing.
  • If they are making a whistling sound while breathing out.
  • Rapid breathing(40 breaths or more in a minute)
  • Extra-long exhalation

Sepsis

Sepsis is caused by bacteria. It might be difficult to identify it, so check them out if you notice these symptoms:

  • If they are breathing very fast.
  • Being heavily asleep.
  • Getting cold.
  • Pale, mottled, or blue skin.
  • Convulsions
  • If you find rashes that do not fade when pressed.

Meningitis

Grunting in sleep is a very common symptom of meningitis. But if you can hear high-pitched grunting along with constant moaning, then check if you can find the following symptoms along with it.

  • Red or blotchy skin.
  • Pale, grey, or blue skin.
  • Labored, fast, or slow breathing.
  • Floppiness
  • Jerky limbs or stiff body.
  • If they are sleeping very deep.

Heart Failure

Granting can also be a symptom of heart failure. It is usually followed by other symptoms like:

  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing and lung congestion
  • Slow weight gain
  • It they are extremely tired, even after having a good sleep, or constantly falling asleep while they are sleeping.

Take them to a doctor immediately if they show any of these signs. Probably, it would be nothing, but there is no harm in getting them checked.

Does It Completely Stop?

Many mothers confirm the fact that grunting usually stops in a few weeks, but again, every child is different, and every case is different. A child might start grunting right after their birth, or it might begin a month later as well. But if you find that it has lasted longer than a week, then it is better to consult a doctor immediately.

When Should You Consult A Doctor?

  • If they are making any unusual grunting noise, then it is better to consult a doctor.
  • If you notice your baby having trouble breathing or they are sneezing and coughing, take them to see a doctor.
  • If they have a high fever, do not waste any time and take them to the emergency room immediately.
  • If they are having an irregular heartbeat or showing irregular breathing patterns take them to a doctor and get them checked immediately.

Wrapping Up!

If you find your newborn grunting and squirming while sleeping, or if you find your baby grunting in sleep, do not worry about it. They are developing their digestive system as well as the nervous system. This can be caused by many reasons like acid reflux, a little bit of congestion, and many others, but it is best to take them to a doctor if you are worried and do not want to take any risk with the little one. Next time if you find your newborn granting and squirming in sleep, you know what you have to do.

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subhasree nag
Subhasree is a content writer who is passionate about traveling, writing, and reading books. In her leisure time, she is seen listening to music and watching web series. Writing along with music and dance are ways in which she expresses herself.

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