image001Babies are known to make all sorts of noises, from high-pitched wails that many times pierce through your eardrums to contented sighs which melt your heart. For baby grunting, it should not be a cause for alarm because it is part of his/her audio repertoire, neither should it be ignored. Your baby can grunt because of the exciting desire to communicate. On the flip side, it could be a sign of some serious illness. Like all other noises coming from a baby, parents should always listen so that they are in a better position of figuring out what it means.

What Does Baby Grunting Mean?

Caregivers and parents are naturally able to pay close attention to a baby’s behavior especially when the activities involved are essential to the baby’s life like sleeping and breathing. In that way, they are able to note if there are any oddities or abnormalities immediately. When an infant is sleeping quietly, it always looks charming and sweet, but when meeting baby grunting, it tends to worry, confuse and even amuse the parents. Even though most babies grunt while sleeping, it is important that you carefully evaluate your child because baby grunting may be caused by an underlying medical problem.

What It Means



All babies grunt during bowel movement. The reason for this is that the abdominal muscles of the baby are undeveloped and thus need help to push the poop out. When the baby grunts while pooping, the larynx is closed and pushed down along with the diaphragm. However, if the baby grunts for long periods, it might be indication of constipation (especially if the baby’s face is red in the process).



Babies enjoy making noises especially when they come to the realization that their parents or caregivers pay attention to them when they do. Along with bubbling, laughs and squeals, grunting is also one of the baby’s attempts to self-entertain and communicate. If the baby grunts when in contact with external stimulus or does it as part of some other noises, chances are that it is just noise and nothing serious.


There are times when a baby grunts for the same reasons adults yawn or sigh. When the baby is shallow breathing, the lungs alveoli can collapse. You need not worry as this is normal and it also happens in adults. When it does happen in older children or adults, a sigh or yawn fills the lungs with oxygen and this reopens the alveoli. Typically, the grunt in this situation will be followed by a couple of deep breaths.


When a baby grunts, it could be a sign of meningitis, sepsis, lung problems or heart failure. This type of grunting is not like the others and it often comes at regular intervals even with each breath. The grunting also seems labored and it can also be accompanied by bubbling or wheezing sounds when the baby is breathing normally. If your baby has this type of breathing, you need to seek immediate medical attention. If the grunting is accompanied by some blue coloration around the baby’s lips, it calls for an ER visit.

How to Tell If My Baby’s Grunting Is a Sign of Illness

To be able to tell whether the baby’s grunting is problematic or normal, you should first check for other signs of respiratory trouble or sickness. If your baby is suffering from blue tongue or skin, weight loss, fever or lethargy, then the grunting is probably an indication of serious respiratory problems. However, if the bay is healthy, active, happy and eats well when awake, grunting is rarely a sign of illness. Grunting that signifies respiratory troubles more commonly occurs when the baby is awake. If the baby is generally healthy, the grunting is probably a sign that its sleep cycle is in much lighter segments.

When to See a Doctor

1. Neonatal Respiratory Distress

This potentially fatal disease occurs when the lungs of a baby haven’t fully matured. While it is more common in babies that are prematurely born, it can also occur in babies born at full term. According to Medline Plus, neonatal respiratory distress has the following signs and symptoms: brief pauses when breathing, blue color to the baby’s skin, decrease in output of urine, breathing movements that are unusual such as drawing in the chest muscles, grunting and nasal flaring. If you notice these signs or if the infant does not breathe for over 10 seconds, call 911.

2. If You Still Have Concerns

If your baby shows worrisome symptoms or if you still have concerns about your baby’s grunting, take him to a doctor for expert evaluation. In order to have thoroughly assessed your infant’s respiration, you must consider an intricate list of indicators such as depression of torso skin among his bones, respiration per minutes and have categorized the grunting. Many times, grunting while sleeping is not an indicator of something troublesome. However, since grunting can also be an indication of an upcoming or serious respiratory failure, you should protect the baby’s health by consulting a medical professional.

Check out this video for more information about baby grunting: