Why Does My Baby Grunt While Sleeping?

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Have you ever heard and wondered “why does my baby grunt while sleeping?” 

It might sound confusing and worrisome at first but there are a couple of reasons why your little one grunts at night or while sleeping. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the common reasons for your baby’s grunting, when to worry about it, and other possible strange noises your little one can make. 

But first, let’s tackle the most common question among new parents about their baby’s grunting. 

Is It Normal for My Baby to Grunt While Sleeping?

Yes, it’s normal for your baby to grunt while sleeping.  

Reasons for which, we’ll discuss further but most of the time, if your little one is not sick or is not a preemie, grunting while sleeping is perfectly normal for them. 

Why Does My Baby Grunt While Sleeping?

There are several reasons why your little one grunts while they sleep:

Passing stool 

Yes, it might sound unusual, but grunting can be your baby’s way of letting you know they’re pooping. Some infants grunt and strain when they need to poop.  

Not yet fully developed 

Your baby’s muscles and nervous system are still developing, and this can result in occasional grunts and noises as they adjust to their rapidly changing bodies.  

Congested nasal passages 

Babies have narrow nasal passages, making them prone to congested-related issues. 

This can make breathing a bit more challenging for them so they grunt to breathe more comfortably.  

Sleep transitions 

Newborn babies sleep in two different states of sleep: REM sleep (aka “active sleep”) and NREM sleep (“quiet sleep”), alternating equally between the two. 

This means that your little ones wake up more often than adults. That’s why it’s always a challenge to make babies sleep longer at night! 

They may move around, make weird noises or grunting sounds, or even briefly wake up during quite sleep phases. This is when parents often rush to their babies, when in fact they’re still sleeping, and are just switching between sleep states. Stepping back, watching and letting a baby switch between sleep states themselves is so powerful to independent sleep.  

Acid reflux

This is a common condition in younger babies.  

This happens when the muscle between the stomach and esophagus doesn’t close properly, and stomach acid goes back up into the esophagus, as these organs are not yet fully developed. 

This can cause your baby to make gurgling and grunting sounds and eventually spit up. 

You can find out more about reflux in babies here

What To Do If Baby Grunts While Sleeping? 

  • Monitor their breathing 

While grunting is often harmless, it’s better to just watch out for signs of irregular breathing, especially if your baby has a fever or just seems unwell in general. 

  • Use a nasal aspirator 

If your baby’s nose is blocked, try using a nasal aspirator to help your baby breathe more easily. 

  • Let them poop 

Some babies grunt loudly while pooping and if your little one is like that, just give them some time to do their business. 

If your baby is constipated, try massaging their tummy, doing some leg exercises, or giving them a warm bath. 

  • Dealing with acid reflux 

Consult your pediatrician first on how to manage your baby’s reflux but common remedies can be feeding your little one and holding them in an upright position for 30 minutes or more. 

Burping them regularly, giving them small, frequent feedings, or making them sleep on the best bassinet for reflux can also help. 

  • Do nothing 

Sometimes, the best course of action is to do nothing at all. Babies are resilient and often settle back into sleep on their own. 

  • Use white noise 

If your baby doesn’t have any urgent medical issues and their grunting is developmentally normal but keeps waking up every time, a white noise machine can be helpful for newborns. 

Newborn Grunting vs. Constipation

It’s important to differentiate between the normal grunting sounds a baby makes during sleep and signs of constipation.  

Grunting due to constipation is typically accompanied by other signs like straining, hard stools, and discomfort.  

If you think that your baby is constipated, try out the usual home remedies first like tummy massage, leg exercises, etc. then consult your pediatrician for further guidance. 

Other Sounds That Babies Make

Aside from grunting, babies are known for their unique repertoire of sounds. Here are some other strange noises you might have heard from your little one: 

Hiccupping: Hiccups are a common occurrence in infants and typically resolve on their own. 

Whimpering, crying, groaning: These vocalisations are your baby’s way of expressing discomfort or seeking attention. 

Rumbling, burping, passing gas: Babies are pros at making these digestive sounds, often accompanied by adorable toots. 

Lip-smacking: Lip-smacking is another sleep-related sound, often associated with active dreaming and self-soothing or early cues of hunger. 

Snorting: Babies may snort, especially when congested or trying to clear their nasal passages. 

Gurgling: Gurgling sounds can occur when your baby swallows saliva or mucus. 

Whistling and rattling: Unless your baby is sick, whistling or rattling sounds are usually harmless. 

When to Worry about Baby Grunting

While grunting is usually harmless, some situations might warrant concern. Be vigilant and consult your pediatrician if your baby exhibits the following: 

  • Fever
  • Breathing faster than usual
  • A blue tinge on the lips or tongue
  • Drawing in their chest as they breathe
  • Pauses between breaths
  • Regularly grunts at the end of each breath
  • Appears upset and uncomfortable


FAQ on Baby Grunting While Sleeping

Why does my baby squirm and grunt while sleeping? 

Your baby squirms and grunts while sleeping for various reasons, most common is they could be passing motion, transitioning between sleep stages, or because of their developing bodies. 

Is it normal for a baby to grunt while sleeping? 

Yes, it’s usually normal for a baby to grunt while sleeping. It is a part of their developmental journey but it’s essential to monitor their overall well-being and watch for signs of distress.

When should I be concerned about my baby grunting? 

You should be concerned if your baby is grunting; they have a fever, have a bluish tint to their lips, and are generally unwell. It’s highly recommended to seek medical attention as soon as possible. 

What is grunting baby syndrome? 

Grunting baby syndrome is a popular term for Infant Dyschezia, a specific condition occurring in babies less than 9 months of age. 

It’s a muscle coordination problem, a condition where the baby seems to have some difficulty pooping but has no signs of constipation. 

Why Does My Baby Grunt While Sleeping: Final Thoughts

In conclusion, there’s little mystery to the question “Why Does My Baby Grunt While Sleeping?” It’s often a normal part of your baby’s development. 

But remember to still keep a lookout for signs that your baby is sick or is in distress, as their grunting while sleeping can mean so much more. 

If you feel that it can lead to something worse, please contact your pediatrician the soon time possible. 

Keep in mind that parenthood is a learning experience, and each coo, grunt, and giggle is a precious reminder of your baby’s growth and development. 


We are a husband and wife business, and are leading sleep consultants based in the UK. If you are having issues with your little one’s sleep, have a look at our sleep plans which range from an online plan to one-to-one coaching. If it feels like you’ve tried everything, then come and try the one thing you haven’t which we know works – that’s our proven sleep method Comforting Through Change™.

We also train people to become sleep consultants. So if you fancy a career change, one where you can be at home ALL the time, contact us via our Academy. We would love to hear from you.





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