What to Do About Babies Gasping In

Baby Gasping In Sleep

Is your baby gasping in his sleep?

This can mean many different things, from a normal state to a possible sleep disorder.

This article will provide you with some possible reasons for this mystery!

The first time I came across this, my initial reaction was, of course, to panic! I was a new mother, and I saw something strange that worried me. After consulting with my daughter’s pediatrician and a baby-discussion forum, I quickly realized I was not alone! Turns out this is a normal thing.

Here are a few reasons why your little one can grasp while sleeping like sleep apnea and laryngomalacia, as well as what you can do to prevent it from happening.

Before you begin this unit, please take the corresponding quiz to assess your knowledge of the subject matter.

Can a baby have Laryngomalacia?

Laryngomalacia literally means “soft throat.” It is caused by the softness of the throat tissue above the vocal cords. With respiration breathing, tissues over the vocal cords fall into the airways and cause partial obstruction. 

This produces stridor (noisy breathing being blocked due to the level of the soundbox). Usually, tissue folds (aryepiglottic folds) between the front and back of the soundbox are shortened. This causes encephalitis to roll inward (becomes “omega form”) and leads to tissue in the cartilage. The back of the voice box (arytenoids) inhales the airways.

Laryngomalacia is the most common cause of noisy breathing in infants.More than half of babies have noisy breathing in the first week of birth, and for most babies, this occurs at 2-4 weeks after birth. Very rarely,laryngomalacia occurs in older children or adults, especially in those with other medical problems. 

Signs and Symptoms of Laryngomalacia

Signs and Symptoms of Laryngomalacia

Noisy breathing (stridor): a wheezing noise when your baby is inhaling (breathing). It is often worse when the baby is excited, hungry, crying, or asleep on their back.

  • High-tone tuning effects 
  • Feeding difficulties 
  • Poor weight gain
  • Choking during feeding 
  • Each breath pulls the neck and chest 
  • Cyanosis (turns blue) 
  • Gastroesophageal reflux (spitting, vomiting, and reflux) 
  • Inhalation (inhalation of food in the lungs) 

This cycle occurs when the return of food from the baby’s tummy (return flow) causes the baby to spit up. Sometimes called gastroesophageal reflux (Gerd), this condition is rarely severe and becomes less common with the age of the baby. It is unusual for a baby to continue regurgitation after 18 months of age. A healthy baby reflows several times a day. As long as your baby is healthy, satisfied and grows well, reflux is no cause for concern. Rarely, childhood reflux can be a sign of medical problems, such as allergies, a clogged digestive system, or gastroesophageal reflux (Gerd).


Reflux in infants is usually not a cause for concern, because thestomach’s contents contain enough acids to irritate the throat or esophagus andcause signs and symptoms, which are very rare. 

  • Frequent reflux or vomiting, especially after meals
  • Choking or wheezing (if the contents of the return flow end up in the trachea and lungs)
  • Wet hiccups
  • Continued spitting up after the child’s first birthday (when most babies stop)
  • Irritable or annoying crying after a meal
  • Refuse food or eating only small amounts
  • Lack of weight gain

Can a baby have sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the child stops breathing during sleep. Breathing pauses usually occur due to blockage of the airways.

Tonsils and adenoids can grow relative to the size of the child’s airways (through the nose and mouth to the passage of the trachea and lungs).Inflamed and infected glands can grow more than normal, resulting in feelinglumpier for a while. Tonsils and adenoids are made of lymphatic tissue, located on the back and sides of the throat. 

At the location of the blockade, the child may seem as if they are trying to breathe (the chest is moving up and down), but the air inside the lungs is not exchanged new air. Usually, these episodes end around the time of awakening and compensate for shortness of breath. Nighttime issues, which lead to poor sleep quality, interrupt restful sleep.

Sometimes the inability to circulate air and oxygen inside and outside the lungs leads to a decrease in oxygen levels in the blood. If this pattern continues, the lungs and heart can suffer permanent damage. 

Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in children aged 3 to 6 years. Children with Down syndrome and other congenital diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract (for example, diseases that lead to a large tongue or a small jaw) are more common. 

What causes obstructive sleep apnea in babies? 

Breathing relies on the muscles at the back of the throat, which help keep the airways open.

During obstructive sleep apnea, these muscles can relax too much and collapse the airways, making breathing difficult. 

This is especially true if someone amplified the tonsils or adenoids(antibacterial tissue behind the nasal cavity), which can clog the airways during sleep. 

Other things that might make the child have it include: 

  • A family history of OSA
  • Being overweight 
  • Medical conditions such as Down syndrome or cerebral palsy 
  • Narrow airway due to problems with mouth, chin, or throat 
  • A large tongue, which can fall during sleep and block the airways 

Is using a baby breathing monitor essential?

Doctors usually don’t recommend getting a baby breathing monitor to people whose children are completely healthy. But if the «apparent life-threatening» situation or «brief, resolved, unexplained» situation happened, then it would be better to use such a monitor.

This monitor is essential for premature babies that suffer from breathing problems or have serious issues with the heart rate. Kids with chronic lung disease and sleep apnea are also in need of the device.

If a baby is suffering from some uncommon illnesses like respiratory distress syndrome, or persistent pulmonary, or something like this, the baby’s doctor may recommend using a breathing monitor as well. Don’t purchase the device without consultation though. Just talk with the baby’s doctor, as he can recommend a specific device that will suit your baby’s needs better.

Best Baby Breathing Monitors Of 2021

1) Owlet Smart Sock

Owlet Smart Sock Baby Breathing Monitors

Here is  the popular device that controls not only a child’s heart rate but also his levels of oxygen. If something is wrong with the baby, this device will use the lights, sounds, and will send you app notifications immediately.

The package includes not just a monitor, but also some washable socks, however, you can buy more of them in the store. Such socks are wrapped around the baby’s feet and also connected to the base station via Bluetooth. Socks are great for any child who’s not more than 18 months.

It is possible to connect the device to multiple phones, so not only you, but also any member of your family will be able to see the baby’s oxygen level and heart rate.

If your kid has any allergies, you don’t need to worry because Owlet’s device is latex-free. Besides, using this monitor is completely secure as it won’t create too many unnecessary alarms.

2) Cocoon Cam Plus

Cocoon Cam Plus Baby Breathing Monitors

This device is really professional and it is recommended by doctors, as it has some modern and useful features, for example, displaying HD video and turning on the night vision. You just need to download a free app on your phone and after that, if anything changes in your baby’s breathing you will be notified immediately.

If your baby doesn’t make any breaths during the 20 seconds period, then you will know about it, as the app will notify you. Besides, you will be alerted when your child will wake up, so you can really trust the device knowing that even if you are sleeping, you’ll be woken up by the app.

Cocoon Cam Plus doesn’t have any special monitors to control the baby, so HD video camera will do everything. You can use the camera to see what’s going on to your baby right now.

One more impressive advantage is that it is possible to talk with the baby through this cam. So if you want to make your kid calmer, just use this function.

This device requires the «bird’s eye» view to be able to work properly, so you can locate it over the crib. In my case, it was problematic as I’m renting a house, so I can’t drill any holes in the walls. However, if you are living in your own house, it won’t be a problem for you.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “This product is the best of all worlds. Don’t waste your money on buying a more expensive camera. Does exactly what it needs to do (easy to install, great quality, easy to use app, etc) and it’s cost-effective.”

3) Hero baby movement monitor by Snuza

Hero baby movement monitor by Snuza

This device is incredibly small and it weighs so little. You can simply clip it to the baby’s diaper, as a result of which you’ll know more about the child’s breathing. However, if the device can’t distinguish breathing for 15 seconds, it will vibrate a little bit. If the next 5 seconds are also without the baby’s breathing, then you will hear a loud alarm. Besides, this device is hypoallergenic and BPA-free.

4) Sense-U baby monitor that includes special temperature sensors

Sense-U baby monitor that includes special temperature sensors

Such a monitor really helps many parents to see and take care of their kids.  It’s useful not only for getting data about the baby’s breathing, but it is also useful if you want to understand if your baby sleeps on their stomach. This device uses Bluetooth Low Energy that has a range of 50 feet and includes a small level of radiation. Sense-U has a special chip that controls the baby’s breathing and if something is wrong, it sends the notification. You can also use the app to learn more about your kid’s temperature and respiratory rate.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “My baby stops breathing in her sleep for 10ish seconds at a time. This has given me the confidence to sleep and know my baby will be ok! It is also good as she sleeps hot in her swaddle. This helps me make sure she is not overheated!”

5) Snuza Go

Snuza Go Baby Breathing Monitors

This device is incredibly similar to Snuza Hero. But even if they are so similar, they have some differences. The main one is connected with the fact that the “Go” doesn’t have any stimulation features.

This device is usually clipped to the diaper (same way as in Hero) and it sends alarms only if the kid hasn’t been breathing for 15 seconds at least. If you see the green light on your device, then it means that everything is great with your baby; however, orange color can be seen if something is wrong.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Used this for several months with my youngest who gave us a scare and had to be on an apnea monitor for her first 3 months of life. It gave me peace of mind after she was off the medical monitor and you just can’t put a price on that. It CAN slip off the diaper if you have a wiggly baby but I rarely had problems with that and I would have rather checked a million false alarms than to miss a problem.”

6)  NANNY monitor

NANNY Baby Breathing Monitors

This monitor was actually created for the European markets, so it is pretty new for the USA. To make it work you should put a sensor pad under the mattress where your baby is sleeping. As a result, this pad will control your baby’s briefing and if it can’t find breathes for 20 seconds, then you’ll hear a loud sound and see some lights.

The sound of this alarm is crazy, so it may be really annoying if it is a false alarm. But still, this monitor only notifies you if there are any serious issues connected with your baby’s breathing.

NANNY monitor works using batteries; besides, these batteries are lithium-ion, so they are rechargeable. You will get 2 batteries from your box. That box also contains a special breastfeeding apron.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “It’s very sensitive, it works very well. I test it once a week and I’ve never had a false alarm. It’s foolproof to set up and sets off a very loud alarm if there’s no movement after 20 seconds”

The purpose of a baby breathing monitor.

The rates of newborns’ breathing are unstable pretty often. It is a common situation when a baby has periodic breathing, especially during sleep, but parents are usually really stressed because of this. You can hear that your child makes some breaths, then he stops and after that, he breathes again. A baby breathing monitor will allow you to distinguish the normal breathing pauses and the ones that can be dangerous for his health. Such a monitor controls a baby and if something is wrong the device will let you know. It alerts when a kid is not breathing for 15 seconds at least.

Of course, these unique features of breathing usually go away when you become older, as you start breathing normally without pauses. But this device is great for parents who care about their child and want to relax a little bit knowing the child is under good control.

What am I supposed to do? 

what you can do when your baby gasps for air

Here’s what you can do when your baby gasps for air: 

Observation of respiratory patterns 

If the situation worsens, you need to know and observe whether your baby has a long pause for breathing. You should also calculate the duration of wheezing and wheezing, as well as other things that you can observe. Then cradle them for a while). 

Video Evidence 

Due to the dawn of technology, recording a video with a phone is very simple and can be considered a huge amount of evidence. If you can show them video tests of your baby’s breathing (or lack thereof) during sleep, your doctor will be able to diagnose your baby’s condition more accurately. 


In addition to photographing the baby’s condition, you should also record when they occur and how often they occur, so that the diagnosis of the baby by the doctor is more accurate. For example, calculate how many shallow breaths occur in a week, how many times a day, and the like. You will do well with getting accurate results if you have prepared for your presentation to your doctor. 


While hearing a child gasping for air can be a pretty shocking experience, all you need to remember is not to panic. Use these tips as guidelines for how you will handle this situation, so your doctor can make a better diagnosis for your baby. We hope these tips will help you solve the problems your baby may have while sleeping.

1 thought on “What to Do About Babies Gasping In”

  1. petrusmichaelPetrus

    My baby is just over a month old, but does something very similar while sleeping. Usually she’s just working out a fart and after it passes she falls back into her deep sleep. I’d say as long as she doesn’t seem to be upset I’d let her sleep.

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