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Know-how: Baby Snuffles

Heavy breathing and noisy gurgles aren't always a sign of a baby cold, but what might these sounds relate to?

Posted: 30 November 2007
by Laura Lee Davies

In winter it is easy for babies to pick up colds and runny noses just like the rest of the family. For ideas about how to keep sickness at bay, make sure you check out our tips for winter family health.
If a baby less than six weeks old develops a very noisy snuffle or rattle, do see your GP, as some babies can get complications from swallowing meconium in the womb or at birth, which in a very few cases can turn into pneumonia. However, most young babies get snuffles between six and ten weeks, that aren’t even a symptom of a common cold.

Baby ‘snurgles’
Young babies tend to build up more muscous in their respiratory tract, and as they breathe in and out, this rattles on their chest and can make a gurgling sound as they inhale through their nose and throat.
Despite the noise and the apparent pulling on their chest, babies do not find it hard to breathe when this happens and it shouldn’t affect ease of breastfeeding or drinking from a bottle.
It should clear up by about three months and can usually be clearly distinguished from a cold as there is no runny nose, loss of appetite or raised temperature.

Noisy feeders
If the gurgling noise continues beyond the first year and tends to be noisiest during feeds, but it is not troubling your baby, you do not need to take your child to see your doctor, but do mention it in passing when you are at the surgery. It is likely to be caused by soft cartilage in your child’s throat which hasn’t quite developed yet. It will in time become more 'solid' and is not something to worry about unduly.

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