Whether you are a new mom or a parenting pro, some infant behaviors can be puzzling to you. One strange sound is an occasional grunt coming from your baby. Is that expected behavior or not? Here are a few things you will want to know about grunting and whether you should be concerned about it.
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Grunting and Your Baby
As a parent, you probably watch your baby’s movements and listen to all those little sounds. You will probably hear little gurgles and notice some squirms in the crib. However, if you hear any grunts, you might worry that your baby needs help or is in pain.
In many cases, baby grunting is related to their digestive process. When the baby is getting used to formula or mother’s milk, they may have gas or pressure in their stomachs. As a result, that feeling can make them feel uncomfortable. It will take time for them to learn how to move gas through their stomachs.
For the most part, a little grunting is normal. However, if your infant is grunting with every breath, appears to be in distress, or has a fever, then it might be time to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician. In those situations, that grunting could be a sign of a severe respiratory problem, and it needs to be addressed immediately.
Newborn Grunting Causes
If you are hearing your baby grunt, it could be the result of a bowel movement. These newborns are learning how to relieve themselves. What we know as regular bodily movements, a newborn must learn how to relax their pelvic floor and use abdominal pressure to move gas and stool through their bodies. Since the abdominal muscles are still weak, the infant will need to use their diaphragm against the closed voice box. As a result, you will hear a soft, grunting noise.
The grunting will continue until they can figure out this process. You might hear it until the baby can produce a bowel movement without the need to grunt. Some professionals refer to these sounds as grunting baby syndrome (GBS). Take a breath and relax. These noises are common and are very rarely symptoms of a severe problem.
If you look at your baby, it may appear like they’re straining, and the head could turn red or purple. According to the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (JPGN), this process can last several minutes.
You might want to confuse the grunting with constipation, but that is not the case. This is just the way that an infant’s system needs to work to produce stool. As previously mentioned, your newborn needs to figure out how to pass gas or excrement through their system correctly. Grunting is a side effect of your baby getting used to a new world.
Remedies for Newborn Grunting
You can always consult with your doctor and ensure that your baby’s grunting is normal. Grunting is almost always tied to a bowel movement. Unfortunately, the only natural cure is when your newborn learns how to relax their anus and push excrement with help from the abdomen. Over time, your baby will discover this process through trial and error.
While you can let nature work its course, some medical professionals recommend that you help your baby by providing anal stimulation. You can use a piece of cotton or an anal thermometer to stimulate the bowel. This can help create a bowel movement in many cases, but there are some adverse side effects. Your newborn might not know how to have a regular bowel movement and rely on this method to help eliminate stools. Many professional journals do not recommend this method, including JPGN. With repeated stimulation, your baby might not know how to release stool out of their system correctly.
You will typically hear grunting from your infant during the first months of their life. After a few weeks, those sounds will resolve by themselves. However, every baby is different. Some may stop making sounds after a week, while others might take a month to master bowel movements.
Should You Be Concerned?
When you hear a grunt, that is usually tied to digestion. However, grunts can be heard when your newborn is in pain. If your baby grunts with every breath, that is not normal. It could be a sign of respiratory distress. Grunting can also be tied to other illnesses. When a fever accompanies that grunting, you need to see a doctor. It could be a symptom of a serious medical condition.
In some cases, grunting can be a sign of pneumonia, sepsis, asthma, meningitis, or heart failure. When you hear grunting, you want to check for signs of illness or respiratory distress. Some symptoms of respiratory problems often include weight loss, blue skin or tongue, lethargy, fever, nasal flaring, or pauses in breathing.
Newborn Grunting Is Normal
When you have a newborn, hearing and watching your baby make these noises can be alarming. However, you need to allow your infant to learn the process of making a bowel movement. While grunting can be unnerving, it is part of an essential process for your baby.
A healthy, happy, and active baby will make grunts, and there are rarely any causes for concern. However, in very rare cases, those grunts could be tied to something more serious. You can always reach out to your doctor for an appointment. With that, you can find out if your baby’s grunting is normal or not.
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