Why do babies make so much noise in their sleep?


Grunts, gurgles, groans, whimpers, whistles, whines, cries, hiccups, laughs…believe it or not, this is only a short list of the baby noises your little one will make while asleep! Contrary to popular belief, “sleeping like a baby” isn’t what we think it is.

Babies make several vocalizations when sleeping that can often be alarming for parents. Not to worry though, most of these sounds are quite normal. But how do you tell the difference between a “good” baby sound from a “bad” one?

Today, with a little help from the experts, we’ve answered all your questions about baby noises. What they mean, why they occur, and when to take action. Read on to learn more about it.

What are normal baby sounds?

According to Nicole Cannon, certified infant and child sleep consultant and Founder of The Sleepy Mama, the better question is, “What aren’t normal baby sounds?”

“Babies can grunt, moan, wheeze, cry, rattle, whimper, cough, moan, snort, and sometimes even giggle,” she said.

Babies have narrow airways and are still learning to digest food, so extra liquids or mucus can cause babies to make noises you wouldn’t necessarily hear in adults.

“But for babies whose systems are maturing, [all those sounds] fall within the range of normal,” says Cannon.

However, to ensure you get a good night’s sleep instead of worrying about the noises your little one is making, know that the following sounds are normal:

1. Regular breathing

Dreamy sighs and soft, gentle pants (a rhythmic in and out) are regular breathing noises that you can expect from your slumbering baby. 

2. Irregular breathing

Ironically, irregular breathing for an infant falls under “normal sounds” because of their developmental stage. Your newborn’s brain is still learning how to boss around the other organs, like the lungs. 

Since babies can’t yet regulate their breathing, your baby’s breath may speed up, slow down, or even pause for a few (terrifying) seconds.

If your baby’s breathing goes back to normal fairly quickly (within a few seconds) and they show no signs of distress, then do not worry, it’s perfectly normal.

3. Respiratory sounds

Wheezing, whistling, and rattling sounds may send you into a panic but these are quite normal while your baby is asleep.

According to Cannon, these sounds are nothing to worry about because “babies have a much more narrow airway so that tends to make the sounds that come out of their noses and mouths a little more pronounced.”

She continued, “You might hear some wheezing or gurgling in those first months. In addition, specifically with newborns, babies are constantly grunting due to the digestive system getting used to processing milk. The grunting or gas can be very prominent when they sleep.”

4. Feeding sounds

Other common sounds to keep an ear out for are feeding noises. Your baby’s stomach is teeny-tiny, just like they are. So, they digest food quickly and are pretty much hungry 24/7 (especially in the first few months).

Sounds like suckling noises, rooting, or lip-smacking are common and you can expect your baby to need another feed soon if you hear these while they’re asleep.

5. Digestive sounds

Since babies are eating and pooping pretty much all day long, it’s not surprising that their digestive systems are working overtime. You should expect sounds like burping, gas, gurgling, and tummy rumbling while they sleep.

Why are babies so noisy?

1. Physical development

Your newborn is new! So, it makes sense that their body isn’t functioning at peak performance. Their lungs and digestive system are still developing, so there will be a few misfires – AKA weird sounds.

2. Tiny airways

Your baby’s airways are pretty tiny, just like they are. So things like congestion can make their breathing very audible.

3. Shorter sleep cycles

As babies have short sleep cycles, they continuously drift in and out of sleep. Making sounds while waking and falling asleep between cycles is very natural.

4. REM sleep

Babies spend a lot of time in REM sleep, during which their little brains are learning, memorizing, and taking everything in. It’s typical for them to be noisier during REM sleep when their brains are more active.

When will the baby noises stop?

Some babies will remain noisy sleepers even when they’re older, but for most, these sounds begin to fade between 3 to 6 months of age.

Usually the sounds start to decrease after the first few months (especially the digestive ones). Some babies with reflux or digestive issues may continue to struggle longer than that, but with the increased airway space and matured digestive tract, most sounds are minimal by the time a baby gets to the 6-month mark.”

— Nicole Cannon, certified infant and child sleep consultant

When should you worry about weird noises?

While most sounds are normal, a few are cause for concern. For instance, if your baby grunts after every breath, you should check in with your pediatrician. 

According to Cannon, “A concave chest, turning purple, rapid breathing or heart rate, stopping breathing, flaring nostrils and gasping for air all can signal a bigger issue.”

If your newborn is breathing fast while sleeping, taking more than 60 breaths per minute, seek medical attention right away.

Coughing during feeds is a possibility when your baby takes in too much milk at one time. Continuous coughing, on the other hand, can indicate a respiratory or digestive problem.

If you notice any of these signs of labored breathing, you should seek medical assistance immediately.

When to seek medical attention

Apart from the points listed above, there are other physical indicators that your little one needs immediate medical attention, such as:

  1. A bluish tinge to the skin
  2. Muscle contractions in the chest or neck
  3. Fever
  4. Long pauses between breaths (10 seconds or more)
  5. Lethargy
  6. A pulling inwards of the chest under the ribs, or above the collarbones

Cannon added, “If you ever feel like something is wrong, trust your instinct. Sometimes those weird noises can signal a bigger issue (especially with things like reflux), so it’s helpful to always consult a doctor if you feel like the noises are too frequent or you notice that they don’t sound typical to you.”


  1. Baby sleep noises. 2021. Healthline. Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry If Your Baby Makes Noises While Sleeping.
  2. Baby breathing noises and concerns. Stanford Medicine. 2021. When Should a Parent Be Concerned With a Baby’s Noisy Breathing?
  3. Breathing problems in newborns: Signs and causes. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. What might breathing problems indicate in a newborn?

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