Infant Grunting

When To Be Concerned About Infant Grunting Noises

Infant grunting noises are for the most part quite normal. Perfectly healthy babies will make them from time to time, and as long as they are not to frequent, or last for any length of time, there is usually nothing to be concerned about.


Loading A Diaper Is One Reason - There are several reasons for infant grunting noises and, knowing what these reasons are can make it easier to tell when the grunting might be of some concern. First of all, newborn babies make all sorts of little noises, and an occasional grunt mixed in with the cooing and gurgling has no particular meaning. As the infant's development progresses, it's going to try to start communicating, and long before it gets to babbling and trying single words, the grunt may well be a part of the child's emerging vocabulary. Another reason for infant grunting that we're all fairly familiar with is when the little one is in the process of loading up a diaper. Grunting and straining are often a natural part of that routine. Nine times out of ten, and the ratio may even be higher than that, grunting sounds are due to one of the above mentioned situations and should be of no particular concern.

A Premature Infant Condition – RDS - There are times however when infant grunting can suggest that something more serious is in the works, and grunting is but one of the symptoms of a disorder that will require attention. In such a case, there are more often than not other symptoms to watch for. If the infant is a premature baby, it may be suffering from respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). There is a substance in our lungs called surfactant which enables the lungs to easily expand. Premature infants at times do not produce enough of this substance, and as a result of the deficiency, breathing becomes a struggle for the infant. The air sacs in the lungs tend to collapse more easily which means a decrease in the volume of air that can enter the lungs. Breathing may become rapid, then slow and even stop, as the infant becomes fatigued. Besides rapid or stopped breathing, nasal flaring and grunting noises, and working of the chest or neck muscles will often be observed. Treatment in this case is absolutely required, and consists of feeding surfactant directly into the lungs through a tube. RDS is not a permanent condition and is something the infant will grow out of relatively quickly.


A Number Of Conditions Can Cause Similar Symptoms - The symptoms just mentioned can be attributed to disorders other than RDS, in fact any condition that is making it difficult for the baby to breathe can bring on these symptoms. They can occur when the baby is asleep, and persistent infant grunting while asleep is often a sign that the baby is experiencing difficulty in breathing.

A lung infection can also impair an infant's breathing, especially if the infection results in pneumonia. The same can be said for the croup, which in many cases causes some restriction in the airways. While croup itself isn't necessarily dangerous, frequent bouts of it can signify an underlying condition, that of laryngopharyngeal reflux, a condition that needs to be treated.

Summary - In summary, an occasional grunt or squeal is of little concern, and usually represents either an attempt to communicate, or more likely, and exploration by the infant of its new world of making noises. A healthy, happy baby who grunts occasionally is still a healthy, happy baby. Infant grunting is to be taken seriously however when it is persistent, when other symptoms mentioned here are present, or if the infant appears to be distressed.