If it’s 3:30am and you’re googling “why is my baby gasping or sobbing in her sleep?” DO NOT PANIC. It’s probably normal. My daughter did it. Let me walk you through it.
Toot has been doing this in her sleep since she was still in a bassinet next to my bed. I’ve freaked out many times, frantically googled, and called the nurse hotline at 2:00am. I was ever vigilant about her breathing because I thought she would just randomly stop and that would be it. Motherhood has turned me into a constant worrier. Turns out I had nothing to worry about, and you probably don’t either.
It sounds like the baby is sobbing. You know that kind of sob right after she has a big crying spell but she’s 100% asleep? It sounds like that. She gasps or kind of hiccups for about 5 to 20 minutes.
There’s no change of color. She doesn’t turn blue. It doesn’t seem to bother her at all. She stops doing it if you wake her up. It just sounds scary.
The technical name for this is periodic breathing.
Why does it happen?
Babies will sometimes have irregular breathing patterns because their lungs and airways are still immature and basically still learning how to function.
Periodic breathing usually happens in the deepest of sleep which is why you don’t see them doing it during naps. It mostly happens in the middle of the night.
It’s in the same realm as hiccups. Just kind of annoying but fine.
My pediatrician assured me that it’s completely normal, and she’ll grow out of it. He said there’s no definitive answer to when babies grow out of it. Toot is 15 months old and had an episode the other day. It doesn’t happen as often as it did when she was younger, though.
Update: Toot is now 3 years old and has grown out of it. She only did it a couple of times when she was two.
When to worry
If your baby is turning blue around her lips or face: call 911. She’s not getting enough air, and it’s an immediate problem.
If your baby snores a lot or stops breathing for more than 20 seconds at a time, call your doctor because this may be a sign of sleep apnea.
Talk to your doctor
It’s always a good idea to let your doctor know that your baby is having periodic breathing spells while sleeping. You can mention it at your next well-baby visit or you can call the office anytime.
Have you noticed your baby sobbing or breathing weirdly at night?
Let me know in the comments below!
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