Home Health A-Z Newborn Grunting : Causes and Remedies

Newborn Grunting : Causes and Remedies

Verified By Apollo General Physician October 7, 2022 18996 0
Newborn Grunting : Causes and Remedies
Newborn Grunting : Causes and Remedies


A new parent observes everything their baby does, and they tend to worry about the minute changes the baby goes through. Babies make various sounds, and almost all of them are normal. Grunting is one such sound that worries new parents. Is there a real need to worry about newborn grunting? 

What is newborn grunting? 

Grunting in newborns is usually due to digestion since their body is getting acclimatised to breast or formula milk. The baby may feel uncomfortable due to gas or pressure in the stomach, and grunting is a way of getting through it. Though grunting is normal, but in rare cases, it could also indicate severe health issues such as respiratory disease. Parents and doctors may provide appropriate care if the baby constantly grunts and experiences fever.

What are the causes of newborn grunting? 

Babies most commonly grunt when passing bowels. Due to their weak abdominal muscles, they are incapable of applying pressure to pass stool or gas. It results in pressing the diaphragm against the voice box to create a grunting noise. But it is also important not to confuse this with constipation .

Babies take a few months to learn to apply pressure to pass stool or gas without producing a grunting sound. The main reason why parents tend to get worried is because of the strain the baby takes while grunting. Sometimes their faces and heads may turn red or purple. But this remains only  for a few minutes and is perfectly fine.  

Other causes

The babies may produce the grunting sound for other reasons too. Some of them are:  

  • Sleeping: Newborns’ sleep is mostly restless and disturbed. They tend to make various noises while sleeping and sometimes may sleep through loud noises too. Grunting is one of the main sounds made by babies, along with gurgling, snoring and squeaking. All these sounds are normal, and to be on the safer side, swaddle the baby in warm bedtime clothes, lay them down on their back and keep the room temperature optimum. These steps may help avoid breathing issues during sleeping.  
  • Blockage in the nose or nasal passage: Newborns mostly breathe through their nose to allow smooth feeding. They may have a lot of mucus produced in their nasal cavity since their respiratory system is still developing. The mucus may get dried and may block the passage causing various sounds. The caretakers need to wipe or clean their noses for easy passage of air. If the baby continues grunting with every breath, then a healthcare provider should be contacted.  
  • Constipation: Sometimes, constipation produces grunting sounds, and this may be confused with digestion grunting. If the baby has a hard bowel movement along with fever, blood in the stool or a bloated belly, visit the healthcare provider immediately. 
  • Acid Reflux: Acid refluxes in babies can cause grunting sounds, and this is due to their poorly developed digestive system. Infant acid reflux and spitting food are normal phenomena unless accompanied by a failure to gain weight, excessive vomiting, and blood in the stool. If these symptoms are observed, the healthcare provider should be contacted to determine the root cause.

When to see a doctor? 

The grunting sound of a sick and a healthy baby has noticeable differences. It is uncommon to grunt in every breath. A grunting sound at the end of each breath may indicate respiratory trouble, and it is necessary to consult the healthcare provider if the baby exhibits such symptoms. Also, look for signs such as frequent grunting, fever, high temperature, and tiredness.  

If the baby shows symptoms such as a bluish tongue or skin, weight loss, lethargy, and breathing pauses with nasal flare, they may suffer from respiratory issues. Chances of asthma, pneumonia, sepsis or pericarditis or meningitis cannot be ignored. Visit the health care provider if these symptoms persist or recur.  


What are the remedies to handle newborn grunting? 

The only actual treatment for newborn grunting is letting the baby learn to pass stool by relaxing their anus while pushing. It will happen eventually through trial and error. 

Some medical professionals advise parents to stimulate their newborn’s anus. It entails using a cotton swab or an anal thermometer to help facilitate the bowel mpvement . This may allow the baby to pass motions but may have certain long-term repercussions. Sometimes the baby may continue relying on this procedure whenever they feel like passing stools , which may prevent the baby from learning the right way to pass stools. 

The grunting typically begins within the first few months of life and stops on its own after a few weeks. Every newborn is unique. Everything relies on how long it takes the baby to develop the ability to coordinate its bowel motions. If the parents feel the grunting to be abnormal, it is always better to get a grunting baby checked by a doctor. 


Although it may sound frightening, the baby’s grunting usually serves a beneficial and healthy purpose. It rarely indicates disease if the kid is healthy, active, seems content, and is getting enough to eat. Although it may be painful to see and hear the infant struggle, it’s crucial to let them resolve the situation independently. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does a newborn baby grunt? 

Newborn babies grunt when learning to pass stool by relaxing the pelvic muscles.  

How long will grunting persist? 

Grunting persists for about a few weeks after the baby is born. Once the baby learns to pass the stool, it automatically stops.  

Is grunting during every breath normal?

No. If the newborn is grunting in every breath, there may be other reasons behind it and the healthcare provider should be contacted immediately to rule out the possibility of other severe issues.

Is spitting up milk normal in newborn babies?

Spitting up milk is due to infant acid reflux and in most cases, it is a normal phenomenon. But if this happens every time and in large quantities, seek advice from a paediatric expert.  

Verified By Apollo General Physician

Our expert general medicine specialists verify the clinical accuracy of the content to deliver the most trusted source of information, making the management of health an empowering experience.

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