Why Does My Baby Grunt in Their Sleep and What Can I Do?

 As a new parent, it's no secret that your life has been turned upside down in the most joyful way. However, with this little one also comes a few restless nights spent wondering why they are making all sorts of interesting sounds in their sleep. 

Parents worldwide have experienced the same thing, and we're here to help. Let us demystify why babies grunt, squeak, and snuffle in their sleep and show you what you can do to make those sleepless nights more peaceful.

Want to make sure your baby has the proper sleep schedule? Check out our  baby subscription box to help you out!

baby grunting and sleeping

Exhale Through Their Nostrils

Did you know that infants solely breathe through their cute little noses for the first 3 to 4 months of their life? Those tiny nasal passageways can easily get blocked by a smidge of mucus, breastmilk, or formula. That can lead to an array of congestion sounds interrupting your baby's precious sleep! 

Even if your little one doesn't have a cold, neonatal congestion is pretty common because of these minuscule nasal passages. Isn't it fascinating how something so small can cause so much trouble?

Related: Baby Won’t Sleep, What Should I Do?


While your baby may attempt to produce a bowel movement, it is typical for them to grunt and get red in the face. The digestive system of your infant is new. They are learning to contract their abdominal muscles to defecate appropriately. Your infant may grumble as they discover how to employ these muscles.

When your infant continues to defecate, he develops the ability to relax his pelvic floor, lessening the need to strain and groan. While most infants have a bowel movement every day, it is typical for some infants to skip 1-2 days without bowel movements. 

See your physician if your infant is constipated, hasn't had a bowel movement in a few days, and grunts without passing stool.

Still Developing

Did you know your precious little bundle of joy is a tiny superhero? Their respiratory and digestive systems are not fully developed yet, but they still work overtime to keep your baby healthy and growing. And all that hard work can lead to some seriously exciting sleep noises! 

Because your little one is still learning to control their breathing, you may hear some thrilling moments when their breathing speeds up or slows down while they snooze. How adorable is that? It's like your baby is a tiny adventurer exploring the world of breathing, one snooze at a time!

Acid Reflux

Picture this, your baby just had a delicious nighttime meal and fell asleep in a safe position on their back. But here's the kicker - that cozy supine posture can cause food to travel back up from the stomach and into the esophagus. And when that extra spit-up enters the mouth, it can cause your infant to grunt, gurgle, and squirm in discomfort. 

It's like your little one is on a wild rollercoaster ride, experiencing all the ups and downs of digestion! But don't worry; it's all a part of the exciting journey of parenthood.

Related: Where Should My Newborn Sleep?

Sleep Transition

baby grunting and sleeping

Newborns cycle between two types of sleep every 45 to 50 minutes. They alternate between REM sleep, known as "active sleep," and NREM, "silent sleep." 

When your baby reaches 3 to 4 months, these two sleep phases magically transform into four. This means your little one is now experiencing even more exciting sleep cycles. 

Remember, your baby spends Forty to fifty percent of their sleep time in Rem. This is different than adults, who spend just 15% of their sleep in REM sleep. This implies that your child's sleep will be characterized by eye-fluttering, an accelerated heart rate, wiggles, squirming, and varied sounds, such as screams, whines, and whimpers.

Even with all these phases, your baby's entire sleep cycle still lasts less than one hour. That means that your little one is likely to enter a light slumber every hour, move around, and make adorable little groans or squawks. It's like your baby is a little sleep adventurer, exploring the exciting world of slumber one cycle at a time!

Finding and Exploring Their Voice

During the first few months of life, your little one's brain is growing lightning-fast. Your infant may start to make some seriously cool sounds! From chirps and laughs to growls and grunts, your baby's experimentation and exploration of their voice is a truly thrilling time! 

You might even hear these same noises during sleep. It's like your little one is a sleep rockstar, practicing their vocals even in their dreams.  

Always Hungry

Even when sleeping, infants are not exactly subtle regarding their hunger cues. You might hear your baby making all sorts of exciting sounds, from lip-smacking to sucking, while snoozing in their bassinet! 

These noises could be a sign that your little one is getting ready to wake up and demand to feed. But don't worry because you're one step ahead of the game. 

With your excellent parenting skills, you can use these sounds as a cue to feed your little one in advance. This ensures they stay happy and satisfied even in their sleep.

When to Worry About Your Infant's Grunting and Other Sleep Sounds?

While it's normal for your baby to make cute squeaking, gurgling, and burping noises while sleeping, there are times when these sounds may indicate a bigger issue. 

Here are some sounds to keep an eye out for:

  • Rapid breathing that exceeds 40 breaths per minute
  • Rhythmic grunting during respiration 
  • Prolonged exhale sound
  • Whistling sound each time your infant exhales

 Hearing any of these frightening noises during your baby's sleep could be a sign of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), bronchiolitis, or respiratory distress syndrome

Contact your healthcare professional as soon as possible for assistance. With your quick thinking and proactive parenting, you can keep your little ones safe and sound even while they sleep!

Reducing Infant Grunting and Shifting During Sleep

When your little one grunts and keeps you up all night, it's time to take action. Here are some tips to help you and your baby get the rest you both need:

  • First up, let's minimize potential respiratory problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated their safe sleep recommendations, which include ensuring your baby is in a safe sleep environment, lying on their back with their legs extended. This can reduce the risk of breathing difficulties and erratic breathing during sleep. Plus, it'll help your baby breathe more easily and make less nighttime noise.
  • To tackle acid reflux, try keeping your baby upright for 15 to 20 minutes after a meal. This improves digestion and reduces the chances of food entering the esophagus. If this doesn't work, consult a medical expert for other methods.
  • If your baby is congested, use a nasal aspirator, newborn saline rinse, or a cool-mist humidifier to clear their nasal passages. And before bedtime, give your baby a warm bath or have them sit in the bathroom while a shower is running.
  • Establishing a nighttime routine and minimizing stimulation will help your baby sleep more soundly and deeply. Consider adding white noise to your baby's routine to help them calm down and reduce the intensity of their sleep noises.
  • And last but not least, incorporating tummy time during the day can help your baby build core muscles and learn to roll over. Strengthening these muscles will result in a deeper sleep, and your baby may become more comfortable sleeping on their stomach.

Want to make sure your baby has the proper sleep schedule? Check out our  baby subscription box to help you out!

The Cute Sounds of Grunting

baby grunting and sleeping

A good night's sleep is crucial for your child's development and well-being, regardless of age. If you're a parent wondering why your little one grunts in their sleep, you are not the only one. By understanding your child's bedtime needs and habits can create a soothing environment that promotes more restful sleep. 

But why stop there? Why not give your baby something extra special every month with a subscription box filled with products designed specifically for their needs? Not only will your baby snooze more peacefully, but you'll also enjoy those quiet moments with them even more. 

It's a win-win situation! So why wait? Treat your little one to a subscription box today and watch them grow and thrive with every restful night's sleep!


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