Understanding Why Your Newborn Grunting in Sleeping

To begin with:

Parents often wonder why their newborn grunting in sleep, especially at night. These nocturnal murmurs, while intriguing, can raise questions and concerns. 

What do they mean, and are they a normal part of infant sleep?

This gentle, rhythmic sound can be attributed to various factors, like digestive or respiratory adjustments, the development of reflexes, and sleep transitions.


This article will delve into the mysteries behind those soft noises and provide you with knowledge of your baby’s sleeping habits.

Let’s begin!

Why Is My Newborn Grunting in Sleep? 

Newborn grunting in sleep is completely normal. Most times, it could be a part of the digestive or respiratory adjustments, reflexes, or sleep transitions. Although grunting is typical in every newborn, the severity and duration may differ. This article will examine these gentle sounds and explore the intriguing world of your baby’s slumber.

As we go further, we’ll present you with the causes of grunting in newborns as well as proven solutions to get you and your baby sleeping comfortably. 

Keep reading!

Causes and Solutions of Grunting in Sleep

1. Respiratory System Adjustment

First off:

A newborn’s entry into the world marks the beginning of an incredible transformation in their respiratory system. 

In the womb, a baby’s lungs are filled with amniotic fluid, and they don’t need to breathe as we do. It’s only at the moment of birth that their respiratory system undergoes significant changes.


The first breaths of a newborn initiate a complex process of adaptation. According to MedlinePlus, Babies take their first breath within 10 seconds of delivery, which often sounds like a gasp. 

During the first few days, your baby’s lungs are in a crucial transition phase. The amniotic fluid takes approximately 24 to 48 hours to absorb from their airways fully. 


Their lungs begin to transition from a fluid-filled state to air-filled organs. This involves the clearance of amniotic fluid from the airways and the expansion of the tiny air sacs, or alveoli, within the lungs.

This process is pivotal in enabling the air sacs or alveoli within their lungs to expand and contract properly. Thus facilitating the intake of oxygen and exhalation of carbon dioxide.

How Does This Impact Grunting Noises?


Gentle grunting sounds are common while your baby’s respiratory system deals with these early adjustments. It results from their efforts to coordinate breathing with their growing lungs.

These sounds may be more pronounced in the first few days as their lungs clear excess fluid and their airways open further.  Also, it is perfectly normal, as their tiny airways need time to clear away residual fluid and become fully functional.

As the days progress, you’ll notice a decrease in the frequency and intensity of these grunting sounds. This signifies the remarkable progress of your baby’s respiratory system and that their lungs have matured significantly, allowing them to breathe independently.


The initial grunting phase during sleep is temporary, and by the age of three months, your child should’ve outgrown it, and the sounds largely subsided.


You can clear your baby’s nasal passage by wiping their nose with a nasal aspirator or a baby-specific saline nasal rinse.


You can reduce the risk associated with breathing issues during sleep by placing your baby on their back and avoiding tight clothing. Ensure that your baby’s sleep environment is in optimal temperature and their crib mattress is firm.

Your newborn’s nursery should also include a baby monitor so you can watch them from anywhere in the home.


If grunting persists beyond the first few months or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s essential to consult your pediatrician. 

2. Digestive System Adjustment


Your newborn’s digestive system plays a vital role in the occurrence of grunting sounds during sleep. 

Understanding how the digestive system works and the timelines involved can provide valuable insights into why newborns grunt while sleeping.

In the early days of life, a baby’s digestive system undergoes a remarkable adaptation process. It is adjusting from receiving nourishment through the umbilical cord to a brand new diet — either breast milk or formula. 

This transition often results in gas buildup and reflux, both of which contribute significantly to those sleep-time grunts. Let’s look at them quickly.



One of the common causes of grunting is the presence of gas in your baby’s stomach. In the early weeks, it’s common for your baby to swallow small amounts of air while feeding.

This can cause pockets of gas to form in their stomach. This trapped air leads to discomfort and the need to release it, hence the grunting noises.

While these digestive adjustments are a normal part of your baby’s early development, there are steps you can take to ease their discomfort.

Burping your baby after feeding is a simple yet effective technique to release trapped gas. 


Feed your baby in an upright position to minimize the ingestion of air. Lastly, ensure your baby is not overfed to aid digestion and alleviate discomfort.


Another aspect to consider is reflux, which is relatively common in newborns. This occurs when small amounts of stomach contents flow back into the esophagus. 

The phenomenon is relatively common due to the immaturity of the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle responsible for keeping stomach contents down. 

While often harmless, reflux can occasionally contribute to grunting during sleep.


Many babies start to experience fewer issues with gas and reflux around the age of 6 weeks. By the time most infants reach 3 to 4 months of age, their digestive systems have matured significantly. 

According to WebMD, most babies outgrow reflux at age 1. They become more adept at digesting their food without excessive gas or reflux. 

Therefore, the grunting sounds while sleeping tend to decrease in frequency and intensity.

Note that:

While most infants experience these issues, the severity and duration can vary. Thus, it’s important for parents to be patient during this phase of adjustment.


If your baby is in excessive discomfort or the grunting persists beyond the first few months, consult with your pediatrician.

Annie baby monitor instagram

3. Sleep Transition


When it comes to your newborn’s sleep, it’s important to understand that it doesn’t follow a continuous, uninterrupted pattern. Babies experience sleep in cycles, roughly lasting 50-60 minutes, consisting of various stages like deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. 

The grunting typically occurs during the transition between these stages. 

At the beginning of a sleep cycle, your baby enters a state of deep sleep. This is characterized by slow brain waves and minimal eye movement. 

After about an hour, they naturally transition to lighter sleep stages (REM). This phase involves increased grunting and other vocalizations. These sounds often coincide with subtle movements like twitching or body shifting.  

Furthermore, these transitions are a normal aspect of the sleep cycle and usually manifest during the first half of the night.

Get this:

The REM (Rapid Eye Movement) is a significant sleep stage that is crucial for your baby’s brain development. Sleepfoundation refers to the REM sleep stage as the period their brain activity spikes, resembling patterns observed during wakefulness. 

This heightened brain activity can lead to more pronounced movements and vocalizations, including grunts. Newborns spend roughly 50% of their time asleep in REM, and it tends to be more prominent during the second half of the night.

While these sounds might give the impression that your baby is awake, they are typically an integral part of the sleep cycle. 


Understanding these transitions can help parents differentiate normal sleep behavior from potential concerns. 

While the grunts may briefly sound like signs of discomfort or wakefulness, they often indicate that your baby is progressing through the sleep stages as anticipated. 

It’s important to remember that each baby’s sleep patterns are unique, and variations are normal. 


Consult your healthcare provider if you notice any unusual signs or other worrisome symptoms.

4. Bowel Movement

It’s not uncommon for babies to experience bowel movements during sleep. This can occur for several reasons, including the natural progression of digestion. 

When your baby’s digestive system is active, it may lead to the passing of gas or even stool. This is sometimes accompanied by grunting sounds. This is because their digestive system is still in the process of maturing.

These occurrences are not restricted to a specific sleep stage. As such, bowel movements can transpire throughout the night, particularly during the transitions between sleep cycles.


You can ease your baby’s discomfort and potentially reduce grunting by massaging their tummy gently or holding them in the knees-to-chest position.

When Should You Be Concerned 

As we mentioned earlier:

Newborn grunting in sleep is typically harmless and part of a newborn’s developmental process. However, there are instances where it might signal an underlying issue. 

It’s essential for parents to be aware of these signs and understand when it’s appropriate to consult a pediatrician. 

Some of the signs you should look out for include

  • Fever.
  • Breathing difficulties.
  • Significant or prolonged distress.
  • Signs of dehydration.
  • Blue or gray tint on their lips or tongue.
  • Regular grunting at the end of each breath.
  • Failure to gain weight.
  • Frequent nose flares.

If you notice any of the signs above, prioritize your baby’s well-being by seeking professional guidance promptly.

Final Tip: Annie Baby Monitor – Your Solution for Newborn Sleep Problems

Dealing with newborn sleep issues can be challenging, but the Annie Baby Monitor is here to help.

With the baby tracker, you can keep an eye on your little one’s sleep patterns and help them sleep better.

Annie Baby Tracker keeps track of essential data like sleep duration and feeding times for analysis, enabling you to adjust your routine to suit your baby’s sleep cycle.

If you are struggling with your newborn’s sleep, let the Annie Baby Monitor help you solve the issue.


Newborn grunting in sleep is often a normal part of their developmental process. Grunting can result from various factors, including respiratory system adjustments, digestive system changes, and transitions between sleep stages.


While it’s common for babies to make these noises as they adjust to their new environment, parents should remain attentive to certain signs that may indicate a need for further attention.

Some of these signs include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fever
  • Nose flares
  • Significant or prolonged distress
  • Poor weight gain


It’s important to consult a healthcare provider if any warning signs arise to ensure your baby’s health and well-being.

Finally: Let us know if this article has helped you understand newborns grunting in sleep. Feel free to share any additional tips or suggestions you have in the comment section below.

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