Medically reviewed by Janina Kong, MD
If you buy something through a link on this site, I may receive a small commission. (Disclosure policy).
  • Post last modified:March 13, 2022
  • Post comments:86 Comments

Is your baby gasping for air?

There are several reasons why a baby gasps when laid down. Let’s take a look at some possible reasons and how to handle the situation.

A lot of parents have also shared their particular situations with babies that gasp for air in the comments section.

baby gasping for air when lying down

Mom’s Question:

My baby has episodes of gasping for air when laid down. We have tried to find the reasons for this as it has happened a few times and we cannot find the reason this happens.

On rare occasions, when she is laid down for a diaper change, she will gasp as though she can’t breathe well. When picked up she recovers, an episode lasting around 20 seconds.

She had the first episode at 10 pm when she was about three months old and we took her to the emergency room. They tested her oxygen level and said it was near perfect. The second time it happened was at 6 pm at about 5 and a half months old, but she was only making the noise and was able to breathe through the whole episode.

And this last time, she had an episode at 10 pm that lasted over a minute and had more trouble breathing, turned red in the face, and was in pain.

We are worried and can’t find a doctor who will provide much help, especially since she seems fine after they occur, and the doctors can only go by our description. My baby is 6 and a half month old and otherwise very healthy and active.

Does anyone recognize this and know what it is if a baby is gasping for air? Or what to do about it?

Baby Gasping for Air When Laid Down: Possible Reasons and Remedies

Seeing your baby gasping for air is quite worrying just like you describe. And how frustrating to not be able to find out what is wrong. Don’t give up!

There can be several reasons why this happens, ranging from mild acid reflux to infections, and anatomical conditions blocking the airways.

Let’s take a look at several possible causes of shortness of breath in babies:

1. Baby Gasping for Air – Acid Reflux

Gastroesophageal Acid Reflux (GERD) is a common condition in children. This is common in babies under 2 years of age. This is caused by the underdeveloped lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which functions as a barrier between the esophagus and the airway. And because babies under 2 years old have underdeveloped LES, the sphincter does not fully close or relaxes too often, hence there is a backflow of acid esophageal contents into the airway.

Signs and symptoms include throwing up or spitting up after feeding, gagging during feeding, coughing, arching of the body during feeding, and sometimes, having trouble breathing. Other symptoms include frequent hiccups or belching, stomach pain, and loss of appetite.

GERD usually resolves around 12 months of age.

What can you do at home if you suspect your baby has GERD?

  • Hold your babies upright for 30 minutes or more right after feeding.
  • If bottle-fed, make sure the nipple part is filled with milk, to prevent your baby from swallowing too much air.
  • Burp your babies after feeding.
  • Refrain from giving too much citrus or acidic foods.

RED FLAGS: If your baby is not gaining weight and develops a fever, loss of appetite, vomits blood, develops a cough, wheezing, or difficulty of breathing, call your doctor immediately. These are signs of infection (i.e., pneumonia, esophagitis, esophageal ulcers). Frequent occurrence of reflux can cause aspiration pneumonia, esophageal ulcers, and infection of the esophagus.

You can read more about acid reflux in babies and toddlers here.


2. Tracheomalacia

This is a rare condition wherein the trachea becomes weak. The trachea is the main airway passage in our throats that is connected to the lungs. In this condition, the tracheal walls are weak and may collapse causing difficulty of breathing, occurring during feeding, coughing, or crying. This commonly occurs in the distal third of the trachea (near the esophagus).

This condition can be congenital or acquired. There are anatomical abnormalities in the trachea when a baby is born or there is a chronic trauma to the trachea causing the walls to weaken.

Signs and symptoms include the difficulty of breathing, noisy breathing most especially when asleep, but may disappear as the patient changes position, fits of cough, feeling of being choked, wheezing, and recurrent lung infections. Diagnosis can be made via bronchoscopy.

You should call your doctor if you suspect this is present in your babies.

Learn more about tracheomalacia in this video:

What is Tracheomalacia - Esophageal and Airway Treatment Center | Boston Children's Hospital

3. Laryngomalacia

Laryngomalacia is a common congenital disorder in infants. This is caused by the weakness of the tissues in the larynx or more commonly known as the voice box, located above the vocal cords. In contrast to tracheomalacia, this is less serious and is located in the upper respiratory tract.

This condition is the most common cause of noisy breathing (stridor) in infants. However, infants with this condition thrive and can still eat and grow adequately. This condition commonly resolves on its own at around 18 months to 20 months of age.

The signs and symptoms for laryngomalacia include difficulty feeding, poor weight gain, choking or gagging while feeding, apnea (breathing stops for a period), vomiting (due to GERD), aspiration, and cyanosis (turning blue due to lack of oxygen). These symptoms usually occur or peak at 4 to 8 months of age, but resolve before the age of 18 to 20 months.

Diagnosis is made via nasopharyngolaryngoscopy, a process wherein a scope is inserted into the nose going into the pharynx then the larynx.

Treatment for this condition includes anti-GERD medications.

RED FLAGS: Call your doctor immediately or bring your baby to the emergency room when he experiences apnea, difficulty of breathing, cyanosis, and failure to gain weight. These symptoms may warrant surgical intervention.

This video is a very good explanation of laryngomalacia:

Laryngomalacia - What is it, what are the symptoms, how is it managed

4. Bronchomalacia

Bronchomalacia is a congenital weakening of the tissues below the trachea. The cartilage of the bronchi collapses during expiration. This leads to recurrent lung infections (pneumonia and bronchitis), chronic cough, respiratory distress, apnea and/or difficulty in breathing, and inability to expectorate.

Diagnosis is made via examination of the bronchi in the operating room. A flexible telescope is inserted into the bronchi.

Some cases of bronchomalacia resolve on their own, however, other symptoms persist for severe cases.

5. Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Respiratory distress syndrome is common among premature babies. This is caused by a lack of surfactant (foamy substance) in the lungs. Babies born prematurely have immature lungs, with little surfactant. This surfactant keeps the alveoli or tiny air sacs in the lungs from collapsing, allowing oxygen to enter into the lungs, and allowing the lungs to fully expand when babies breathe. Other names of this disorder include Hyaline Membrane Disease, Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Infant Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Surfactant Deficiency.

Signs and symptoms include difficulty of breathing or fast breathing, cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the mouth and limbs), nasal flaring, and chest retractions (use of accessory muscles when breathing producing deep retractions in between the ribs and below the rib cage).

Diagnosis includes history and physical examination, as well as a chest x-ray.

Before giving birth, mothers are given a steroid injection for the development of the lungs of the baby. Postnatally, these babies are placed in incubators with a facemask and oxygen on. Babies are also given doses of surfactant.

Almost all babies recover from this condition.

6. Meconium aspiration syndrome

This condition commonly occurs in babies who are delivered past their due dates. Meconium is the early stool that is passed by the babies. When the baby poops while still in the womb, the meconium, mixed with amniotic fluid, is being aspirated by the baby.

This is a leading cause of death and severe illness in newborns. Hence mothers need to follow up on their scheduled dates of delivery when there is an absence of labor.

Upon delivery, the amniotic fluid is dark-colored due to the mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid. The newborn is limp, cyanotic, and with difficulty of breathing or not breathing at all. Suctioning of the newborn’s buccal and nasal cavities is done immediately after delivery. A chest X-ray is taken and shows patchy infiltrates in the lungs.

Treatment includes the administration of antibiotics. Close monitoring of the lung capacity and progress via chest x-ray is included in the treatment.

7. Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections in children are common. Signs and symptoms include fever, cough, occasionally colds. For severe disease, there is difficulty of breathing, cyanosis observed on the lips, fingers, or toes, loss of appetite, altered mental state (drowsy to lethargic), signs of dehydration (poor skin turgor, sunken eyeballs, and fontanels), alar flaring, chest retractions, and sometimes, seizures.

The following diseases can cause these signs and symptoms:

  • Pneumonia -upon physical examination, there are crackles heard in the lungs upon auscultation
  • Effusion or empyema -reduced movement on the affected lung side
  • Bronchiolitis – common in less than a year old
  • Pulmonary Tuberculosis – an infectious disease most common in 3rd world countries. Exposure to a TB patient warrants further investigation when symptoms are manifested (chest x-ray, positive Mantoux test). The cough is chronic, occurring for more than 2 weeks, with loss of weight (significant stunting and wasting).
  • Pertussis – this can be prevented with DPT (diphtheria, pertussis vaccine which is routinely given to babies during the first 6 months in 3 divided doses). There is a paroxysmal cough or whooping cough, accompanied by cyanosis or vomiting.
  • Croup – this is characterized by a barking cough. There is an inflammation of the larynx, trachea, and bronchi. Inspiratory stridor (noisy breathing upon inhalation) is characteristic of this condition.

I am uncertain whether a respiratory infection is a relevant possible cause of your baby’s gasping, since it has been going on for so long. On the other hand, if there have been extended periods without her gasping for air, then this could be relevant.

Red flags for severe disease (described above) should prompt an immediate trip to the emergency room.

8. Asthma and Allergies

Asthma is a common chronic lung disease in children. This is characterized by inflammation of the airways and hyperproduction of secretions, as manifested by expiratory wheezing, cough occurring mostly at night, and shortness of breath or difficulty of breathing. They are usually responsive to bronchodilators. Episodes of asthma usually occur after exposure to triggers or allergens. Triggers include smoke (most significantly cigarette smoke, strong odor or scent, pollen, dust, among others.

Diagnosis is based on medical history, if a lung capacity test is not possible. Treatment includes long and short-acting bronchodilators, the use of antihistamines, steroids, and avoidance of triggers and allergens.

9. Sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea causes breathing to stop for a period during sleep. This is common in children aged 3 to 6 years old. Usually, children outgrow this condition.

In this condition, the muscles in the upper airway tend to relax, partially or completely blocking the airway while a child sleeps. The most common cause of blockage is enlarged or inflamed tonsils, as a consequence of infection or overgrowth. However, other factors like obesity or being overweight, a tumor or abnormal growth in the airway passage, and certain congenital anomalies (i.e., Down Syndrome, Pierre-Robin Syndrome) can also cause sleep apnea.

Signs and symptoms include snoring, pause in breathing while asleep, mouth breathing, restlessness during sleep, sleepiness during daytime (caused by interrupted sleep the previous night), sleepwalking, night terrors, bedwetting, among others.

Diagnosis is done through a sleep study. Brain activity, heart activity, and airflow into the lungs are monitored during the sleep study.

Treatment of sleep apnea is targeted at addressing the cause of the blockage. Surgical interventions for enlarged tonsils and weight loss for obesity are among the treatment options.  

10. Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs)

 There are two types of congenital heart defects: cyanotic and acyanotic CHDs. The severity of the symptoms, prognosis, and treatment depends on the defect and location of the defect. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Palpitations
  • The irregular rhythm of the heart
  • Fast heart rate
  • Cyanosis
  • Clubbing of the fingers (cyanotic type)
  • Swelling of the extremities
  • Failure to thrive and gain weight
  • Interrupted feeding (cyanotic type of CHD)

The most common defects are the following:

  • Septal defect – there is a hole in the septum that separates the chambers of the heart
  • Coarctation of the aorta – there is a narrowing of the aorta
  • Pulmonary valve stenosis – narrowing of the pulmonary valve
  • Transposition of the great vessels – there is swapping in the position of the pulmonary aortic valves and the arteries

Diagnosis is made through a thorough medical history, chest x-rays, and ECG. Other modalities can be utilized, too. Some CHDs resolve on their own by the age of 2 years old. Septal defects usually close by that age. Surgical intervention is elective and is required for more severe cases and persistent defects.

11. Something stuck in the airways

Foreign body obstruction of the airway should be immediately addressed and brought to the emergency room. Cyanosis, difficulty of breathing, loss of consciousness are some of the symptoms when something is blocking the airway. There is sudden respiratory distress and stridor.

12. Pain – not related to breathing and/or reflux

Reviewing all the comments to this article (thanks a lot, all contributing parents!), it does seem fairly common that babies gasp due to pain from e.g. diaper rashes. This does sound logical, just considering how humans do react to pain.

In these cases, there certainly should be no indications of breathing difficulties (check the video below!) or illness.

Also, of course, treating the diaper rash should make the gasping disappear.

There could, of course, be other reasons for pain and thereby gasping. Acid reflux can also cause pain for a baby when laid down.


What to do when a baby is gasping for air?

So, the next question is of course what to do when a baby is gasping for air. Well, one thing is, of course, to try to find the root cause and treat it, just like you do.

To help the diagnosis, take notes of when this happens.  Look out for patterns. Filming your child during these episodes can help you find this.

Gasping for air can also be an emergency, since the gasping may indicate breathing difficulties.

Here are some signs that you need to call an ambulance or take your baby to the emergency room immediately:

  • Is gasping for breath for more than a very brief period
  • Can’t cry or make noise because of breathing trouble
  • Has blue lips
  • Is breathing very fast
  • Looks very sick 


The video below is of great help in recognizing respiratory distress in babies.

"Recognizing Respiratory Distress" by Monica Kleinman, MD for OPENPediatrics


I hope this helps.

Make sure you discuss these conditions with your baby’s doctor, to rule them out or diagnose them and get appropriate help!


Read Next about Babies Gasping For Air



Find comments below, and please add your own experiences with babies gasping for air. The discussion is quite helpful!

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 86 Comments

  1. Olivia

    Your baby doesn’t haven’t to have the normal symptoms of reflux for it to be reflux. My son is now 6 mos old and had serious acid reflux without ever spitting up. In fact, he would have a cat and mouse episode (what I call cat and mouse) because as the acid would come up, he would immediately swallow it, so it rarely ever came out and while this is happening, he would literally gasp for air whenever he could. The first time it happened, I literally had a panic attack. I was terrified because I will never forget the look on his face. But, my point is, that acid reflux can be silent, and that is very painful. Fortunately once we figured out what the problem was and with the right dose of medicine….Zantac and Prevacid the episodes all but disappeared within about a month of his medicine. If I forget one dose, he would have an episode. Good luck, and I am sure it will all work itself out.

  2. Tez

    I’m happy I found this site because its reassuring to know that I’m not alone. My 4 mth old has been gasping for air since about 8 weeks old. He did it whilst being changed and at 3 myths he did it when we were placing him in for a bath. He sits upright with a bath seat. Now at 4 months he has started to gasp when he is laying down, flat or propped up. His gasps can last 10 to 20 seconds and he seems to react that way when he gets anything over his eyes. It was extremely scary but I’m now calming and relaxing when he has these episodes.
    I breastfed til 4 mths. I didn’t have an epidural either. And lastly he had lots of hiccups when I was carrying him and he gets it a lot when he laughs now. My eldest who is 19 had reflux as a baby and we had to give him Gaviscon and Mylanta during and after each feed, as advised by our midwife. I don’t want to give the medication to my new baby because I have concerns about it.

  3. Megan

    To help give you worried parents some solace I’ll let you know that my 4month old does this ALL the time. He has acid reflux and it is the stomach acid coming up into his esophogus.

    The other culprit is having to burp. Baby will also do the gasp if something is put over baby’s face like a blanket. Sometimes my little one plays with his burp cloth and ends up putting it on his face and starts to gasp. I think it is a natural reflex baby’s have.

    My advice is to try to burp baby when this happens or just prop baby up to help give relief. If your baby has other symptoms of acid reflux then talk to your doctor about taking medicine. But my baby takes medicine and he still gasps so it must be normal. Try not to give your baby unnecessary medicine or x-rays. If your baby seems healthy and happy then he probably is.

  4. sis

    My sister had this as a baby and luckily my mom would hold her upright at night or she might not have lived. Turns out her tonsils and adnoids were so swollen she couldn’t breathe when she was laying down.

    I guess trust your motherly instinct.

  5. Dina

    Hi Guys,

    just though I’d update you, I wrote back in November about my son. bless these little ones and these doctors don’t know exactly how dangerous this can be. My son had other complications so the doctors didn’t really pay much attention to this constant problem which lead him to needed oxygen.

    Having strong reflux for a long time kills your airways, they put him on medications and placed a g-tube and said it should solve the problem even though we tried to push for a duplication operation of the stomach. With everything we did the reflux looked like it was getting worse as he grew and they did all the tests, it all came back negative. But we did not need a machine to tell us our son had reflux…it was obvious…..

    Then he had one to many and they said his lungs were damaged… It was two weeks before his first birthday when they told us they couldn’t do anything for his lungs. When I asked them why we didn’t do the operation and why we weren’t told that reflux could kill, they said that so many kids have reflux, it is rare that this happens. But it can happen, so if your dr. is not taking seriously, you make them!

    Bless them all … I love you,

  6. lindsey

    when my 2 year old has a bowel movement she starts making a gasping sound. it scares me to death she only does it while having a bowel movement. she spits up very little and after she burps she gets the hiccups and frequently during the day she gets hiccups. she isn’t scared while having this problem she just looks uncomfortable. she stays constipated so I started giving her rice cereal in her bottle once at night before bed that helped move her bowels more but they are always hard or very thick like paste or sometimes they are watery and have little white bead looking things in it! I feel like something is wrong and it scares me. I’m waiting for a doctor appointment but as always doctors don’t seem as in a hurry to help a mother or to diagnose a symptom! i just don’t know what to think of what’s happening with her every time I’m literally crying bc I can’t stand for my baby to do this. also in her car seat once she spit up and choked on it. I wouldn’t put her in that thing for I know a month if i had to go somewhere i would get my mother to baby sit, that’s how frightening it is. I’m just scared for my daughter!! any advice??

    1. Michelle

      Hi Lindsay, I think you are worrying a little too much! It’s totally normal for a baby to get hiccups. I would advise against giving baby anything other than breast or formula as a babies digestive system isn’t ready for anything else which may explain the white things you can see in nappy! A baby will spit up a lot, that’s totally normal. So don’t be concerned about putting them in a car seat. A baby will cry when filling his/her nappy sometimes if they are constipated. I suggest you give a little cool boiled water every day or a little brown sugar in cool boiled water if needs be to help them have a bowl movement. Babies can often hold their breath, gasp, panic and cry whilst they are laid flat if they have wind still as this will cause them to have a little acid reflux, all of this will go in time. However I am not their to see your baby so good to get them checked by doctor but in the meantime I really wouldn’t worry. Hope this has made u feel a bit better,

  7. Emily

    I am a private maternity nurse and it sounds like reflux to me – babies aren’t always sick! As there is a condition called silent reflux. It can look quite scary but it is a lot more common than you think especially in premature babies. The doctors, midwifes and health visitors have never really done anything when I have had concerns it’s like if they can’t see it then it doesn’t exist or they just say its normal unless baby isn’t putting on weight! it drives me crazy. It does go away by itself but if your really concerned go and see a reflux doctor but in my experience the medication doesn’t make it go away completely, so I use Gaviscon in their milk for a while and make sure they are burped fully after their milk as if they having lots of wind still when laid flat can make it worse.

  8. New Mom

    My little guy is 3 months and he has been making these noises since birth. It sounded like the pertussis commercial when the baby coughs and then makes that noise. He doesn’t have that persistent cough, so I feel better to know it is not that.

    There was one time he did it in his woke me up. I notice that he does it when laying down. No diaper rash and he was prescribed medicine for reflux but I stopped giving it to him. I hate medications..!

    He does seem to have a lot of saliva, I was told that was normal. I was thinking he had acid reflux that’s why he was given the Ratidine.

    He has had 3 different docs so far and they all say the same thing…”it’s normal.” They check his lungs and say he is fine and very healthy. I never feel ok with that answer.

    Could it be the acid reflux? It just doesn’t seem “normal” to me. I guess I should start reaching specialist just to be safe. All I know is when he does it he seems to be catching his breath, which can’t be a normal thing.

    Sidenote-I was against him getting those vaccine shots but was talked into doing the first 2month shots…do I have to continue now that I have started them? If anyone has any advice I would greatly appreciated.

  9. Minnie

    My baby is a month and a half old, he gasps for air too. It is very scary for a mom to go through. I took him to the hospital they checked for reflux and it wasn’t that, they took a brain x-ray, a chest x-ray, and put him on a sleep apnea machine and everything came out normal. It is bad to not have answers and yes its very scaring. Wish I had answers too.

  10. Penelope

    My daughter had the 1st episode of stridor 2 months ago she was lying down and we found out she was having a bowel movement (constipation). Yesterday, she had another episode. This time she has a very bad diaper rash and my husband and I were changing her diaper, last 10-15 seconds gasping for air, her chest caved in… scary…taking her to the doctor tomorrow

  11. Dina

    I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my son who was in the hospital and was in serious trouble because of these respiratory attacks that kept getting worse.
    I thought my experience might help some of your concerns.

    He was in the hospital for 3 weeks and they couldn’t find out what was causing these scary episodes which kept getting worse.

    He has heart and liver diseases which complicates the matter more and we had a flu in the house.

    Basically after reading this site I came across a parent that said the dr had mentioned floppy airways.

    When the dr. looked down my son had Tracheomalacia:

    In a newborn the occurs when the cartilage in the windpipe (trachea) has not developed properly. Instead of being rigid, the walls of the trachea are floppy. Because the windpipe is the main airway, breathing difficulties begin soon after birth.

    This could be mild and not cause a problem at first, but if the kid gets the flu it will make things very bad and you need to get medical help.

    It is more apparent when laying down on the back because they flop closed. That’s why they feel better on their stomach. It is accompanied usually by reflux.

    It starts to get better between 6 – 12 months and goes away by 18 – 24 months.

    Hope this helps some of you!

    1. Paula @ EasyBabyLife

      Thank you so much for sharing this! I am sure it will be of tremendous help for some parents, who can now ask their pediatrician to specifically look for Tracheomalacia.

  12. mommyx3

    My 4 month old daughter and 4th child got her first set of shots about 5 days ago later on that night I laid her down to change her diaper and she started making these noises like she was gasping for air none of my other children have done that so i of course freaked out and ran upstairs to my husband with a diaperless baby telling him what had happened and crying she appeared to be fine as we put her diaper on a played with her she smiled and laughed so i though ok everything is fine well a few hours later we were all 3 lying in bed and time for another diaper change and she did it again he heard it this time and we called the doctor she said that it was probably from the pain she was having in her legs from the shots and to give her tylonol everything was fine after that until today i put her in her exerciser and she did it again she was a little constipated so I dnt know if it was from the pain of trying to squeeze your her bowel movement but it seems like most babies are doing this when they feel some type of pain.

    Wish there was a better answer but this site did help a little knowing that it is fairly common.

  13. Dina

    my name is Dina my son is 4 months old and he’s been having them for the last 3 weeks but they keep getting worse. he already has heart disease and is complex. he’s been in the hospital for 3 weeks and they don’t know what wrong. they’ve check his chest, brain ultrasound and heart. he has really bad reflux which he’s taking medication for and is getting from a feeding tube but he still gets hiccups and reflux. he’s on oxygen because when the attacks come he stats gasping for air and his oxygen level goes down. each time its happening its becoming more difficult for him to recover and longer. its starting when he gets angry or scared. during his respiratory episodes he turned red, blue around the noise and start to sweat like crazy he also tries to vomit and bear down. they don’t know what’s wrong and I don’t want to put him through a heart operation just because they cant find other answers. when he’s not going through an episode he’s oxygen level is great, blood work normal and chest x-ray shows nothing. the chest doctors say its not chis lungs, the heart say its not the heart that’s starting it… but over time its so intense and scary… the last one today lasted for half an hour. Please if you can help a desperate mother…

  14. Stacey

    I would like to comment about the babies who gasp for air when laid down. My baby is 21 years old now. She first had her episode of this while still in the hospital and the nurse told me this was normal. It progressed to her to stop breathing and then finally taking a big gasp of air.

    We were told it was probably an allergy at first.

    Then we were told she was a SIDS candidate and she was put on a monitor that went off every time I laid her down.

    This was a problem she never really outgrew. It is worse when she is sick with colds. Doctors have dismissed after checking for everything.

    Last year she was hospitalized and they discovered she was a diabetic.

    Before her dismissal the doctor came in and said that they needed to more tests because as she slept she stopped breathing and her heart rate lowered.

    I explained that this has happened since infancy and no one can find a reason.

    He stated that he believed it was sleep apnea and that even as an infant they may suffer from this. I would like to mention that this did decrease a great deal after she had her tonsils and adenoids out as well.

    I do not know that this is your issue and I am only sharing my experience in order for you to have something else to look at. I hope that you all find your answers and don’t have to wait 21 years…

    1. Paula @ EasyBabyLife

      Thank you so much for sharing what finally was shown to be your daughter’s issue.

      Sleep apnea in infants is actually more common than you would think.

    2. Mrs Dell

      I agree with you, Stacey! My daughter at the age of 20th months then who is now 23 was having the same breathing problems: snoring, grasping for air, sleeping with mouth wide open and could hear her in the next room. And it scared me to death.

      I took her to the doctor and He kept saying Oh it will go away and gave me some medicine to give her, well it didn’t help, I look in her mouth and notice that I can’t see down her thoat because her tonstils were touching from one side of her mouth to the other. I took her back to the doctor and he gave me more medicine(don’t recall what it was) and said they will go down. Well they didn’t the breathing didn’t change. He wasn’t any help to me.

      And I was worried about my baby so I took her to a different doctor and he notice the swollen glands. So he suggest that her tonstils and atnords be remove. And that was the answer to her breathing problem..

      Well now my daughter has a little girl who is now 20 months and I notice the same thing with her breathing and the worrying has started all over again… Hopefully this same breathing problem will be solved. By the way we gave her a breathing treatment last night we thought it would help but it didn’t when she went to bed….

      Oh God please bless these little ones and give their parents comfort to find the answer….Pray this is helpful for some one.

  15. Ashley

    hi my daughter she is 2 years old now and she does this all the time but only when she is a sleep it doesn’t matter were she sleeps n how she sleeps but i went to doctors as we have high asthma in the family and I though it could be that so he gave me salbutamol inhalers n then sent me to peads and he says the same about reflux but has put her on a 3 day monitor and she still be having this episodes. I took a look at her heart rate and its never under 120 and when she gasps for her breath her heart rate shoot well over 160 this stuff is rely scary even more so when its you own child i hope you get some help just push to have the monitor as that’s the only way u all guna find out what is wrong with you babies :)

  16. murali

    my boy 3months old while sleeping he facing breathing problem doc told that is throat narrow when reflux please give a solution

  17. Girl’s Dad

    Our little girl was born via C-section 1 week ago. She was 37 weeks. She has had 3 episodes where she can’t breathe and turns red for a handful of seconds. She has been able to regain her breathe, but it is scary as heck in the meantime. The consensus among the Dr’s and Nurses we spoke with is that it is probably reflux (similar to what the stories here show).

    After discussion with our nurses and Dr’s here is the plan of action that we are using

    1) burp her until she recovers her breathe

    2) check that she is breathing by placing our cheek near her nose & mouth (you can feel her breath on your cheek)

    3) if she turns blue and/or does not resume normal breathing fairly soon, our plan is to call 911.

    4) If she does resume breathing, we are still going to notify our Dr, but we will not call 911.

    Here are some things we have uncovered that should help with her reflux, and this is how we will mitigate it:

    A) hold her upright for 30 minutes after feeding

    B) inclined her crib and her changing table

    C) we are not going to change her right after feeding (look at all the threads here that talk about these episodes on the changing table – most likely right after feeding!)

    D) She is now on anti-reflux medication

    E) My wife will be avoiding cow’s milk products – from my googling, 50% of infant GERD cases may be linked to cows milk allergies

    These episodes are horrible and would frighten anyone. Hopefully these things we are doing will help our daughter, and may hopefully save someone some research, or perhaps give them a starting point for their research.

  18. mayen

    Hi guys, I am so relieved to know that I’m not alone. I’m a first time mum and my 4 and a half month old baby has been having this since she was about a 2mths old. I’ve cracked my brain trying to figure it out becos d doc doesn’t seem to think it’s anything. She not only gasps when i change her but even when she’s in her swing or bouncer or any sitting position, then she starts to bring out foamy saliva.

    Reading all these comments I did think about it being vaccine related but then again the lady who talked about epidurals could be right. Though I didn’t get one, I had a c-sec with spinal anaesthesia which I hear in itself is some form of epidural. My baby had reflux but I can’t quite connect it to breathing, she sleeps on her tummy and that works for her.

  19. Jessica

    I surprised that no one here has considered vaccines. All reactions do not always happen just after the bundle of shots. Also, it seems no one can name the real cause, NOT even the doctors. Vaccines can & do start problems in some infants & young children at any age. It’s so sad that even most doctors will not question the risk of vaccines that are putting proven toxic poison’s into the tiny bodies. The breaks my heart! The brainwashing is so real. Read up on vaccines & you will find out that parents of higher educations are starting to refuse, or at least prolong childhood vaccines.

  20. Brigit

    I think this can be epidural-related. My 5 week old granddaughter is in the ER as I write this with very similar problems. Very scary that she just stops breathing, chokes on her own saliva, etc…I noticed this also with my grandson.

    Does anyone else think this is strange that all these babies are having very similar problems? I am curious to know after doing extensive reading. How many of you had an epidural during labor?

    I have found some interesting info on the affects it can have on the baby. Some websites say not enough research has been done. I’ll bet not. I would more than appreciate any constructive feedback on this. We are going to get medical records on both of my daughters who had epidural’s to see if they had the same type of medication.

    After all this is how they find out they need to recall a drug is only after thousands have had a reaction. Thank you

  21. Brittany

    My 7 1/2 months old started making noises a few weeks ago. She doesn’t do it when we change her. She does it while she’s watching TV in her walker. At first we thought she was getting excited. But last night she did it while I was holding her and her chest caved in! She doesn’t get scared when this happens. And afterwards she exhales really loudly. Kind of like shes annoyed.

    Everything I’ve found on the internet talks about diaper rashes and GERD but she has neither. She’s recently been trying to crawl and I wonder if that has anything to do with it. I’m scheduling an appointment soon. Hopefully she is just getting over excited.

    Can anyone tell me anything?

  22. Annie


    For those of you with infants 4 or 5 months old, gasping is normal. My daughter started gasping last week (which sounds just like she’s been pulled out of water in extremis), but she does it while she’s laughing, or playing with toys, or not showing any signs of panic.

    At that age, the pediatrician told us it’s vocal experimentation, and nothing to be alarmed of. If she was to wheeze, the problem would be if wheezing showed up when she expires, not when she inspires.

    1. Ellie

      For my son it is more than gasps, and it is not a vocal experiment. He does panic… he can’t breath… The gasps are true gasping for air…and his chest caves in…like it can’t take any air in.
      My son just turned two, I keep coming back to this sight… I posted first over a year ago. It is comforting to know others are going through it. I just wish we all had more answers. My son has been on prilesec (sp) for a year, for he was diagnosed with acid reflux. I think it is more. He still wakes up in pain. Mylecon (over the counter gas medicine for babies) seems to work on the spot. Why should he need that when he is already on prilesec. the doctors want to do a scope of sorts but he would have to be put under. I think that sounds scary and drastic…But I ,…nor do any of the doctors I have seen have any answers. …frustrating.

  23. MrsM

    Well my 3 month old has been making gasping sounds now for about a month. At first they only happened occasionally and always when she was trying to move a bowel. Well lately she’s been doing it a lot more and not just when trying to poop. Went to the doctor and he was no help. She gets really upset when it happens and screams and cries. Its making me have sleepless nights and freaking me out! I’m so worried she is going to stop breathing! She doesn’t have a diaper rash, but she does spit up a lot and does get hiccups quite a bit. So taking her to the doctors next week to ask if it could be reflux! But this site really does help. I’m glad I’m not the only one freaking out!

  24. Thankful mom

    Amen to this site!!! My baby has been doing the same thing since she was about 2 months. It is getting worse!!! I have been to two doctors and they tell me she will grow out of it. She only does it when you lay her down after she eats or poops. She starts gasping for air, her stomach blows up, and a little hole appears in her chest. It is so so scary!!!! She never looks like she is struggling for breath. We watch her and make sure she is breathing. Sometimes she is doing this crazy noise and smiles at us.

    I hate this!!!! I feel so much better after reading this site.

  25. Jane

    Thank goodness for the internet! My son does the same thing!!! =( It’s horrible. He gasps and chokes and writhes around when these fits happen… like he can’t breath… I wish I could figure out what is wrong. I feel so helpless. We’re using a nebulizer for him every four hours… and that seems to work and calm him down.

  26. Jennifer

    My daughter also scared me to death.. waking up gasping in the night, or when I changed her diaper. But she had a bad bout of diaper rash until we found a diaper and wipes that agreed with her sensitive skin.

    It probably stung when she wet her diaper in the night, and the fresh urine hit her bottom, or when I changed her and the fresh air hit her already stinging behind.

    I too, took her to the emergency room without finding out much of anything from them.
    (My Aunt told me to try applying plain liquid Mylanta on the baby’s diaper rash to neutralize the acid from the urine, And to let the baby’s bottom air out as much as possible at diaper changes and around bath time.

    I would leave a t-shirt on her, but just let her play on a blanket with a bare behind for a while a few times a day (preferably after she’d already had a wet diaper). Problem seemed to go away after the diaper rash did.

  27. Liz

    The 1st time my daughter did this she was about 7 months old. I was scared out of my mind. I thought maybe she was having an asthma attack, but thankfully my friend was with me. Her son has asthma and she told me it does not sound like that. My daughter started gasping when I was changing her diaper. I noticed that she had a very red diaper rash. After using diaper cream, the rash went away and so did her gasping. She has only done it 2 other times since then (once at 10 months and again at almost a year). Both times she had the same red rash. I am trying to constantly keep diaper cream on her to keep the rash away. Unfortunately, this means not using our cloth diapers as often since the cream ruins their ability to absorb. I don’t know if there is any link, as mentioned by others in previous posts, but she did have some GERD when she was younger and was born via c-section.

  28. Isa’s Mom

    Hello All,

    I am reading all these comments and yes Acid Reflux could be the case, however we are in the middle of diagnosing my 4 1/2 month old still. It could be a fistula (a birth defect) which is an abnormal connection between the windpipe and esophogus, which can cause these strange gasping and loss of breath incidents.

    We’ll go for an esopogram tomorrow and if that is normal, the GI doctor and primary ped is referring us to a pulmonary specialist (doc) to double check respiratory issues/diseases/disorders. Every case and child is different and it is best to have professionals take a look and ask you all the questions. Our little one is in excellent health condition, rarely spits up, and great health, and very easy happy baby, but there are various conditions out there that exist which could be present.

    Her symptoms were as follows:

    1) About month 3 she started to gasp on occasion, but did it while playing and thought nothing of it because she was happy, thought she was finding her voice

    2) About a week ago gasped largely and lost her breath for about 20 seconds, started shaking and turning red, then followed by extreme crying

    3) a few days later started gasping
    uncontrollably called ped and she said to take her to ER, a few minutes later she lost her breath for 20-30 seconds, I called 911, but the time she got there she settled down and the gasping had stopped. They checked her vitals and she looked good, still took her to ER and they did a chest X-ray (heart and lungs) looked great

    4) Next day she had several gasping attaches/episodes on the hour from about 3:00 to 8:30

    5) Both Ped and GI said it was odd to have the loss of breath, but could still be Acid Reflux.

    6) She hasn’t had an incident since last week.

    7) Doing esophagram tomorrow, hope it comes back good, if fistula is present it requires surgery. Figures crossed its the Acid reflux

    Either way, be sure to consult doctors and get their professional opinion and don’t be shy to ask questions and see about your child getting checked out for other possible issues.

    The joys of parenthood, this little one has caused me so much stress this past week I was so nausea in the middle of the night I couldn’t sleep. I am glad the doctors are being diligent and careful in diagnosing her and making sure she is okay, puts my mind at ease.

    – Good Luck All! –

  29. Mariah

    Our 11 week old daughter is also gasping. It has happened three times that I know of. It does occur while changing her diaper as well. I was thinking she has some form of acid reflux because when she spits up I can see her little face cringe and I remember looking the same way when I had “heartburn” while I was pregnant. It is so scary. this last time this evening was the worst. It was longer in duration and when I picked her up it continued for a bit. I’m not sure how long because I was so scared. I think she could tell because she started crying in a very terrified, inconsolable way and cried herself to sleep. Our doctor also brushed this off like it was nothing. Her breathing does seem irregular at times and this seems like it could be related. She is my second daughter.

    I was curious to see how many of the parents that were posting have gasping babies that were also C-section babies. I understand that when an child is born by C-section, that he/she does not get the same pressure around the body to help expel the excess fluid in the lungs during delivery.

    My first daughter, whom is almost 4 now, has had pneumonia twice (once when she was 1 year and once this past February). I think there is a link there as well.

    I, like many of you, do not think this is normal and do not think that we should just sit back and have our children on acid reflux medication for the rest of their lives. There must be more to it. I am also breastfeeding, so the dairy thing doesn’t fit.

    She hasn’t had any bad diaper rashes, just a little redness. I use Weleda Calendula diaper cream and it clears up overnight. She does have frequent, loud bowel movements though.

    Thank you all for sharing. I was in tears and my heart was racing when I sat down. I feel better now, but even more convinced that there is something the doctors are missing.

    1. sylcat

      I’m not sure about the c-section link. My daughter was a c-section baby, however, two of my sisters had c-sections and none of their babies had this gasping.

      My husband has sensitive skin, and I do a little bit…so I really think that the tiniest bit of pain or skin tearing wreak havoc on a babies tolerance for pain…this is why even though I do not see clear diaper rash I still use the diaper creme around anal area every single time I change her, even with just pee.

      Also I try not to rub down there too much when cleaning her, sometimes i add some water to sensitive wipes to blot her clean. Now that she is 6months, we now give her Apple/prune juice combo (for babies) 2 oz a day…now her poop is softer and she has had less gasping.

      She will have some gasping however, when she has more poop or harder poop that comes out at one time. Also, even if she has little pee, I still change her and make sure she has clean diaper every 2-3 hours except at night time.. she sleeps 8-9 hours during night. I have seen her have acid reflux but she doesn’t wince in pain at all from that, I have reflux too without the pain.

      My daughter is now probably only gasping maybe once a week, if that, which is a HUGE change from every single day when she pooped. I really think that using diaper creme on anal area with every change, juice to make poop softer, keeping baby skin clean and comfy with clean diapers, and blotting bottom clean with sensitive wipes (add water if necessary) are keys to helping babies who gasp after pooping. If babies are gasping at other times other than after pooping, then it could be a different ailment.

    2. Enya

      I did not have a c-section, and my baby gasps, too.

  30. Feels better!

    Answered some of my questions, now i know am not alone in this problem

  31. syl

    Okay. Per doc, it has to do with baby straining and/or the poop might have torn baby’s skin down there. my daughter too gasps AFTER she poops, but is usually smiles and doesn’t seem to be bothered by it. after every change I put diaper creme on her to make sure she keeps diaper rash away. some gasps are scarier than other times, but doc says so long she does not stop breathing, turns blue…then she’s okay. So in the end I think it’s diaper rash and/or straining with poop that might be too big for the opening..

  32. Krista

    I have to say that although I am not glad any of you had to experience that scary gasping, I am feeling so much better right now! My 4 month old daughter had a gasping attack today. It was the second time this happened. The first time, I was changing her on a hard surface, so I thought that was the problem. This time, she was on her changing table, so I knew the problem was something else. She has mild diaper rash, and is a very hiccup prone girl. It sounds like she has so many of the same symptoms as your little ones, so I am very relieved. I just hope it doesn’t happen again!

  33. syl

    This same gasping sound… does anyone remember drinking something, it goes down wrong pipe, and you have to gasp for air? It sounds just like that… LO had one episode at four months then now at five months, she has had several in two doc says its GERD, he gave her meds, but I think there’s more to it. Mith my LO, this happened consistently today four times: 10-15 mins passed after she had just eaten, she started to become uncomfortable (seated upright the whole time), then had bowel movement and the gasps is it due to eating or possible painful bowel movement??

    When I checked her bum, she was a bit red…so maybe pain from bowel mvmnt caused it??

    Coincidence that she had just eaten AND had bowel movement right after? LO usually has only one, sometimes two movements per day, but today was FOUR…right after she ate, which is not the norm for her…gonna treat diaper rash and will post after treatment if her symptoms improve or not. it kills me to hear her gasp like that.

  34. Erin

    Thanks Everyone for posting!!! I don’t no what I would have done with out this website!!

    My 3 month old has done this 2 times other than today. Today he has done it at every diaper change, he also has a bad diaper rash right now from pooping a little last night and not being changed till the morning. The second time it happened we rushed him to the ER at one in the morning. They checked him out, did a chest x-ray everything was normal they said it was just him figuring out how to breathe through his mouth. I didn’t think it was just that he was gasping and his chest was sinking in like he couldn’t breathe, it scared the Crap out of me and my boyfriend. After reading everything I honestly do think its from the pain of his diaper rash.
    He is a 15 lb. healthy, happy, and very active 3 month old. If his wheezing starts to become more frequent or happen when he does not have a rash I will be bringing him in again and posting on this website! Also to everyone DO NOT use powder for diaper rashes, use Destin or a cream. Baby powder especially one with corns starch can cause breathing problems and does not treat diaper rash!!

  35. Carrie

    My daughter is two months old and she has done this several times now. I also have two other children that have done the same thing and we rushed them to the hospital when it happened. I do think that it may be acid reflux, but it is so scary. When she does it her eyes start watering and she immediately starts screaming when she is finally able to catch her breath. My other children only did this one time and never again after that. My two month old has done it at least 5-6 times now and it does not seem to be improving. She sleeps in her bouncy seat every night because I am afraid to put her in her crib due to the fact that she frequently spits up as well. I have asked her Dr. and he said that he did not know what could be causing this. With four kids I think that I know what I am talking about and that there really is a reason to be concerned. I hope that she will eventually outgrow this and soon! All you first time parents that are experiencing this with your babies are completely right and are not over reacting. This is not normal. I wish that I could explain it better to her Dr. and that he would seem a little more concerned and try to find out what it is. There is nothing more frustrating and heart breaking than to have your baby be in pain and scared and you cannot do anything to help them.

  36. Louise

    I too have the same problem. My daughter just turned 8 mos and she occasionally does this while getting her diaper changed. By reading some of the posts, I have noticed that they occur when she has diaper rash.
    Only thing I would like to mention other than the fact I feel better that this could be something minor, is that my daughter had a soft trachea when she was born. She constantly sounded like she couldn’t breathe. I got used to it and it actually became reassuring at night because I could always hear her on the monitor. It was when she was quiet that I got nervous. She did outgrow this symptom. For some of you, this maybe something to look into. This symptom is constant and does not occur in episodes and also is common in newborns especially preemies.
    Just an FYI.

  37. Tine

    My daughter is eight weeks old. She strains a lot when she pees. She has wet diapers with each feeding but lately has problems pooping. Yesterday she went without pooping. Today I continued to strain and no poop. I sat her on her bouncer, five minutes later she gasped for air three time. I immediately picked her up and sure enough she smelt like pooped. She had smelly poop and as I was changing her she continued to poop with ease.

    My question is why did she gasp? Was it due to pushing out the poop or is there a serious problem?

  38. Sophie

    For the last 2 weeks my son has been gasping for air during sleep only. We just did a sleep study last night and will get the results next week. This doesn’t happen during diaper changes like others posted above. However, he has always gotten hiccups on a regular basis. Even while I was pregnant it would happen quite a few times a day. Just an observation but I would say the babies that gasp while awake and the babies that gasp while asleep have 2 different problems. It’s very hard to accept docs that don’t have a true diagnosis! I hope we get a answer from the results of the sleep study!

    I’ll post the results ASAP!!! Good luck mamas!

  39. lelemorgiemommy

    My daughter is 5 weeks old and she has a gasping/spitting up/sucking problem as well. it is purely related to acid reflux. for spitting up we did have to switch her formula and she is on Zantac which has helped tremendously. Also, we feed her upright and burp her frequently and then keep her sitting up for 30-60 minutes after feedings. Change diapers and play with them before feeding to prevent having to lay them on their backs, this also helps with spitting up.
    As far as the gasping sounds, it is caused by the reflux. The acid irritates the esophogus and causes them to sort of gasp for air for a moment. Just think of what acid reflux is like for you as an adult and imagine how a baby feels. It is hard for her to sleep at times, especially at night, the only place I can get her to sleep comfortably is either me holding her on her tummy, or propped up in a beanbag chair or a bouncy seat. she cannot and will not lay on her back because it causes her too much pain.

    She also has frequent times where she will be trying to fall asleep and will all of a sudden start squirming and whining as if she is in pain. it gets hard for her to sleep at times, especially in the evening.

    A lot of the problems I’ve read on here all seem to be the same symptoms of acid reflux that my daughter has, and unfortunately, there are only certain measures you can take, but it will go away eventually. but if you are still worried, then just call your pediatrician.

  40. Julie

    My son is 2 months old. He gasps for air a lot at night time when he goes to bed. It happens all the time. I have been to the doctor and they think it is reflux. The other night he choked really bad while eating (I nurse him)to where he wasn’t breathing. I had to yell for my husband to come up and help me to get him to breath. We took him to the ER and had him checked out. He was fine. They even did a chest x-ray and that was fine too.

    I took him to the doctors the next morning and told them I am so scared now when he is gasping for air that he will choke like he did. The doctor ordered for us to get a apnea monitor. It is great. It shows every heart beat and every breath he takes. It makes me feel so much better. The monitor has not gone off at all and he has been on it for 2 days now. It makes me feel better because if he was to stop breathing the alarm on the monitor would go off. My conclusion is that he has mild reflux and it is not affecting his heart rate or his breathing.

  41. rainbowbrite

    I ran across this site while searching for gasping while sleeping. After reading this entire thread, I’m thinking my 21-month-old is currently making “gasping” sounds while she’s sleeping due to the rash she got today. She has had some reflux issues when she was younger, and intolerance to milk and cheese. Today I tried to give her regular cheese (as opposed to soy) and it seems that she’s still intolerant — we noticed a rash right before putting her down to bed. She didn’t want to sleep (alone at least) but finally did. I went into her room to check the temperature and noticed she was making gasping sounds, kind of sounds like when she’s crying – like a sobbing/gasping sound.

    I hope it’s just a consequence of her intolerance to milk and not sleep apnea or something serious like that. I’m still taking her to see the doctor if this continues after I stop giving her dairy again.

  42. Tnsuzy

    My 6 yr old daughter has been doing this. It has only happened 4 times and started about a month ago. but last time was the absolute WORST!! I was on the verge of calling 911 it was so scary. It lasted 20-25 seconds with her gasping for air, eyes wide in terror, trying to breath.

    Seems all the entries on here are for infants and doctors say they will grow out of it, anyone have any ideas about my older daughter exhibiting the same symptoms?

  43. Sara

    My daughter made the gasping noise for the first time when she was 4 weeks old! We were changing her diaper when it happened. We picked her up immediately but she continued doing it for about 20 seconds but it felt like 2 hours! We were so frightened we took her to the ER right away and they did a chest x ray and checked to see if she has RSV. Everything came back fine and they diagnosed her with GERD(acid reflux).

    So her pediatrician put her on ranitidine for the reflux but she continued to make the noise occasionally even with the meds. One day I put baby powder on her and she broke out in a huge rash and started doing the gasping noise!

    Come to find out baby powder can cause breathing problems!! So we stopped using it and she stopped making the noise!! Until about a week ago! We were changing her diaper and noticed her butt was a little red so we put some Desitin on it and she started making the gasping noise AGAIN!! It wasn’t as long as it was before but she did it again and it SCARES me!! When she make the noise she has this scared look on her face but she never turns blue!! PLEASE HELP!! I’m a very worried first time mommy!!

    1. Jackie H

      Hi Sara. Do you know if your daughter has any kind of food allergies? I know that diaper rash and wheezing/breathing problems can be signs of allergies. Also, my pediatrician told me to keep my daughter upright for at least 30 minutes after she eats. Do you tend to change your daughters diaper shortly after she eats? If so, you might want to change her before she eats. My daughter is 7 months old now, and she still does the gasping thing, but her episodes are rare.

      Good luck and keep researching. It seems like everyone’s pediatrician has a different answer for everything. All you can do is go with your new mommy instincts and try to make the best choices YOU feel are right for your kids!!!

  44. Terrified..

    my daughter has been gasping for air once a day, she’s 2 mths old.
    she has a lot of hiccups too.
    I mentioned it to the doctor but he said its normal..
    I’m really scared that this can happen while I’m asleep, so she sleeps with me and every half an hr automatically i wake up to check on her.
    she gasps when laying on her back and when i pick her up it stops.

    I’m so terrified…
    even when she’s sleeping in the afternoon I’ve to keep checking on her every 5 mins.
    tomorrow I’m going to the clinic and I’m gonna tell them again, just want a cure for this.

  45. Kelly

    My daughter does the same gasping everyday for a month now. It happens EVERY time we change her, but also while she plays and while she sleeps. The worst is when she’s in her car seat because I can’t get back there to help her.

    My oldest son had GERD and it was nothing like this. But I know every child is different.

    He had projectile vomit and was never even bothered by any of it. But it is good to have something to look into. With my daughter, she is in physical distress while and immediately after. The ER dr called it a choking episode (it wasn’t) and the ped called it croup, but it’s been so long, I know it’s not either. Anyone with advice send my way. Since she does it in her sleep, I haven’t slept much. For the time being she’s sleeping upright, but that hasn’t fixed it.

  46. Concerned mom

    I commented here when my son was younger. He is now almost two. The doctor swears it is reflux and he is on reflux medicine. Is it helping…don’t know. The gasping only happens when he is in pain while I am changing his diaper and he has a diaper rash. The doctor says stomach fluid will come up his pipes and hit the opening to his lungs making him gasp.

    I think there is more to it, but I have had him check out by an ENT, a gastrologist specialist. He does get the hiccups ALL the time..pretty intense hiccups every time he laughs. Other than that he is healthy and a very happy little boy. I am don’t think I will figure it out until he is old enough to tell me what is going on. So it is just a day at a time.

  47. Jackie H

    I’m so happy I found this site with everyones comments. My daughter also gasps for air when she is laid down for a diaper change. She has only had one moderately bad diaper rash, so I think its safe to dismiss that symptom. One parent on here mentioned “stridor”. I googled stridor and found some very insightful sites. I suggest everyone with a child gasping for air check this out. One symptom I read to look for is to see if your childs chest sinks in when ever they gasp for air. My daughter’s pediatrician also said it sounded like reflux, but my daughter never acts like she’s in pain when these gasping spells happen. I’ve noticed that they occur more when she gets really excited, so stridor or a blocked airway seems to make the most sense to me. The gasping spells have been happening more frequently, but she also seems to be recovering better from them. For example, the first time she had her gasping spell she freaked out and I freaked out. I immediately scooped her up and started to pat her on her back. She coughed a little and started to scream her “scared” scream…not a “I’m in pain” scream. Now when the gasping spells happen, I talk to her calmly and ask her if she’s ok. Sometimes she’ll stop gasping and smile at me. Other times she may continue to gasp and I’ll pick her up, but she doesn’t freak out like she did the first few times it happened. I think the best thing any of us parents can do is to try not to freak out ourselves. I’ve noticed that my daughter picks up on my emotions so easily and she responds accordingly. The calmer we all are, the calmer our children are and the easier it is for them to get through the gasping spell. While researching stridor, I found out that the specialist who should evaluate my daughter is called a pediatric otolaryngologist. They specialize in ear, nose, and throat problems. So I’m going to find one for my daughter to have a consultation. No offense to my daughter’s pediatrician, but my gut tells me her gasping has nothing to do with reflux.

    My husband thinks I’m over-worrying and looking too much into it, but he hasn’t seen her have a bad gasping spell and I’m going to do what ever I can to find answers about this.

    Good luck to everyone on here looking for answers. Keep up the great work and follow your gut. You’re never wrong or “over-worrying” when it comes to asking questions and seeking answers about your child’s health!!!!

  48. Brandy

    My 6 mo daughter does this a lot, I think she is just exasperated. It sounds like a cross between a wheeze and a gasp. she does it when she is frustrated.

  49. chaits

    My 8 week old daughter does this as well when I’m changing her…I read in Tracy Hogg’s book that it better for them when u change them moving them up sideways rather than lifting their legs up to wipe and change them…really helped with us…also after their feed it helps if they remain in a slightly upright position rather than flat on their backs.

  50. Krystal

    I can’t believe how many other worried sick, sleepless anxious parents are out there with the same gasping noise as my 4 month old daughter. I think the gasping for air when getting the nappy changed is coz the wipe is cold or just the cool air getting to their little bums that were so warm seconds earlier!, As that’s what my little one does also, but its not the diaper change gasp that worries me its the gasping for air during the night that is so so so scary! She started this at about 1 month old she gasps so hard trying so hard to breathe and I have to pick her up and pat her firmly on the back over my shoulder to get her breathing again, when she has recovered I notice she is very sweaty and hot even though she is not overdressed and its not that hot here. I have been to many pedatricians and doctors but have been told that it is reflux, she does not have any episodes through the day nor has any other reflux symptoms like having trouble burping or painful tummy cries. I don’t know what it is but it has eased a lot since she first started and it happens less frequently now, so if anyone else is in the same boat send a comment and let me know!!!!,

  51. Girl mom

    I am relieved that there are others that have gone through this ordeal. It comforts me to know that this is likely not something serious but rather, is likely something she will out-grow (I hope).

    This has happened to my daughter approximately 4 times. However, 3 out of the 4 times my daughter did not have a diaper rash. The same events leading up to each occurrence are that she was just fed and was followed by a diaper change. I do not recall if each occurrence resulted in a diaper change involving a bowel movement or, if she burped well prior to the diaper change.

  52. Elle

    Hey, both of my kids have gone through this. The first time it happened with my son I called 911, I was so scared. I still have not got used to it all, scares the crap out of me each time.

    I have noticed that it happens when they have diaper rashes. So I do everything I possibly can to make sure they don’t get diaper rashes. Even if they start looking like they might get one I let air get to their butts and plaster them with cream before bed. I am so glad to see all these other posts, it lets me know that it is not just my kids. Hope this information helps!!

  53. Laila

    I am so happy to have stumbled across this discussion! My almost 7-month-old daughter has had now 3 episodes of “gasping”, all while having a diaper changed! The episodes are pretty quick, only lasting about 15-20 seconds. She cried during the first 2, but today she didn’t cry at all.

    I took her to the ER the first time and they assured me she was fine. The next day the pediatrician said reflux . . . I never quite believed it was reflux and I still don’t think I do, but I, like so many of you, am not sure what is causing it. I’m just so thankful to have found out that she’s not the only one! She is otherwise very happy and healthy.

  54. Concerned mom

    I had posted earlier about my son and have seen a couple of doctors since. I noticed my son has these episodes whenever he has a diaper rash (My son never really spits up at all, not the only sign of reflux I learned). A diaper rash appears when introduced to new foods, so maybe the new food is also causing acid reflux.

    He is now 15 months old. Things have progressed since he is now on table food, he is uncomfortable at night and is in pain. A burp helps and he falls right to sleep, but a burp will not always come out.

    What I found out – I was referred to an Ears-Nose-Throat doctor. When I described the symptoms, she said it was acid reflux for sure. She told me that even adults will wake up in the middle of the night having one of these episodes. The acid reflux is very painful, and if it comes in contact with the vocal cords they will close up causing a baby to gasp for air (just like in some adults).

    She said he should outgrow it in a year or so. She prescribed a child’s “Prilosec” (not sure on spelling). I give it once a day. He has only been on it for a week, and they say it could take up to 6 weeks to be effective. She also told me that dairy is the number one culprit of acid reflux. So we changed his milk to soy, but I have not seen any difference as far as sleeping through the night.

    My pediatrician said there is no proof if milk causes it or not. He said it is just trial and error of what works, stay away from acidic food.

    I will post again to keep you all updated on if the medicine works. She said he would only be on it for a year. Honestly I am uncomfortable with giving medicine to him every day, but he is so uncomfortable and the episodes are very scary.

  55. Toni

    Please someone HELP!!!!
    My son who is 5 months old gasp for air for several times for ex: he gasp when being upset, or just watching television in his glider.

    I have taken him to the doctor, she listened to his chest and found it to be clear she requested i take him to the hospital for Xrays to which they found nothing wrong.

    I have noticed he does not gasp while sleeping on his belly, I know they say they it is bad for a baby to sleep on their belly, but I find that he sleeps through the night most comfortable that way… While I lay awake watching him… I will never leave him unattended. Please Someone HELP me understand why this is happening!!!!!!

    1. Babymom

      I can’t say why this is happening. My daughter does the same thing occasionally with the breathing, she is 6 weeks, and I also put her on her belly to sleep, she sleeps longer and deeper and has no problems breathing, but I bought one of those angel monitors and it works awesome! Hope that helps!

  56. ZachBrodysMum

    My son who is 6 months old has done this from the moment he came out of hospital. He was a preemie (2months) and because he had a feeding tube for a month he now has quite bad reflux.

    I hate it a lot. It scares me but I always make sure I put on a big smiley face and pat him on the back and say to him breathe baby breathe. If I do that he doesn’t get upset or scared and cry which can sometimes make it worse. I’m hoping once the reflux goes so will the gasping. He is on medication for his reflux which does help him a lot.

    He never goes blue or anything and it sometimes lasts for 10-20 secs.

    I hope this helps a little

  57. Kiki

    My daughter Isabelle is almost 8 weeks! Today when she had eaten (formula) when I put her down to change diapers she suddenly gasped for air…since I was right there I picked her up in a second and blew in her face – she looked really scared but never started crying.. and after a little while she was OK. She has a lot of hick ups during the day and at times she chokes on the formula and starts coughing like she has a hard time breathing…

    All this is really scary to me as well – I’m happy I found this thread knowing that this is fairly common.

    Will be hard to sleep tonight though =(

  58. Kirstie

    I have been researching these symptoms for months and finally found other parents experiencing this! My daughter has made these squealing gasping noises since she was 1 week old. She is now 8 months and on 15 mg of prevacid a day and I have her on 1/2 AR lipil 1/2 gentlease. The reflux is under control with the meds, but a couple times a month she still has these squealing episodes. Im just so afraid something is being overlooked. Its the most frightening thing to experience. It is always triggered by her being laid flat(usually at diaper changings as well!) It does slow down when holding her upright but sometimes continues on and off for a couple of hours. I notice that the days she does it she usually experiences frequent hiccups and more intense spitting up. I have tried figuring out what causes it but cant really put my finger on it. Feel free to reply to me, I would love to hear any advice or swap symptoms!

    1. Sonia

      Since my daughter was 1 week old she would spit up almost every time I fed her and soon after this Hiccups would come! I paid really close attention and it’s when my daughter spits up (acid reflux etc.) but accidentally swallows it that she gets the hiccups. You may not notice it because they will show no signs of swallowing spit up but next time just pay close attention to this and you will see what I mean.

  59. Tess

    I originally posted here when my son was 9 mo. old. He has had episodes about 2 times since I posted. In our case we are now almost positive the gasps relate to diaper rashes (the ONLY times they happened) so if you hadn’t considered this as a cause, you may want to! We’ve also switched to sensitive wipes and use diaper cream more frequently to ward off any pain when we notice he’s the least bit red…also make sure to use diaper cream @bedtime so he doesn’t wake up with a rash. He has SUPER sensitive skin – even picking him up leaves red marks on his back!

  60. Sandy

    This breathing thing has happened with my daughter too.

    My husband and I first noticed it when she was about 3 months old she made a gasping noise and then it was over, she then started gasping every now and again with dirty diapers, I don’t know if that is just a coincidence or not, but only one time has it happened with a wet diaper.

    One time she did it several times in a row and got a look of panic on her face and was wiggling around like she couldn’t breath, she never turned blue and started breathing normal when I picked her up, but then proceeded to cry really hard.

    The next day I brought her to our MD and he said infants have immature vocal cords and they can collaps when the baby sucks in, he said it is congenital and that she should outgrow it by the time she is 6-18 months.

    He called it stridor, so I looked it up on the internet and I found what he had already told me and they just need to outgrow it, but I also found some articles that said it could be caused from reflux. My daughter rarely spits up, but I did find an article that stated infants with GERD do not necessarily spit up. I talked to our MD regarding the reflux theory, but he still felt it to be congenital…whatever it is it scares us so if anyone finds a way to make it stop will you please let me know??

    I can’t imagine dealing with this for another 2 months to a year!

  61. Sara

    My 10 week old just started this gasping thing when I go to change her. As soon as I lie her down and lift her legs to change the diaper she makes this little gasp sound, like someone gasping for air when drawing in their breath.

    She got so scared herself she started crying really hard and didn’t want to be put down. It is really frightening as her tummy sucks in and gets tense. She didn’t turn blue or anything, just the noise.

    I am going to the doctor tomorrow for her 2 month check up & shots and I’ll hopefully find out what is going on.

    I will not be getting much sleep tonight!

  62. Concerned mom

    It is amazing reading your story. It is exactly what is happening to my son, it only happens during diaper changes and the episodes last about 20 seconds. He does seem to be in pain.

    The first episode was at 3months, then at 6 months, then once a month, and now every other week to once a week. He is one year old.

    My doctor suggested it could be acid reflux, but my son barely ever spits up. He has referred me to see an ENT doctor to see if there is a blockage in his throat, if that does not find anything then a GI doctor.

    Have you learned any more about your daughters condition? The episodes are scary and I don’t want to worry anymore.

  63. Tess

    This has happened to my son too. It is terrifying. He gasps/squeals and seems like he can’t catch his breath. It’s only happened three times in his life(thank god) but all during changing a diaper. I think it is due to diaper rash as he has had a rash each time he’s had an “episode.” My theory (and it’s just a theory!) is that he gasps due to the pain of the rash and he either a) sucks some saliva into his windpipe and starts to panic or b) gasps quickly in pain causing some sort of reflux reaction causing more pain and gasping. You can see how scared he is when it happens…he hasn’t been diagnosed with GERD but the doc did feel he had a little reflux when younger. He has frequent hiccups and still spits up at 9 months. I don’t know if this helps anyone but you are not alone if this happens to you and I completely feel your fear and anxiety related to this.

    If I get any more answers I’ll add to this discussion.

    1. Annie

      I have been reading this column since it started. They are all the same…so this is reassurring…I think.
      Your connection to the diaper rash is exactly it with my son. At least that is what the specialist said. the diaper rash hurts causing some acid reflux…which hits the opening to the lungs (not sure of name)….that clinches shut to prevent fluid from entering and hence the gasping. still scary. My son is almost two.. and I just cannot wait until he can just tell me what is wrong.

      I get worried about the constant hiccups. If my son is giggling or laughing a lot he gets them. I always stop making him laugh then….which I don’t want to stop making him laugh.

  64. Nora

    this happens to my daughter. she’s 3 months old .. for 5 days now many times a day. it happens only when she’s lying down on her back gasping its like when u blow in babies face. It’s a really scary thing. I went to the ER I show the doctor the video I record she said she’s fine I explained to her everything but she didn’t give me the answer I need I just want to know what is that???? and what to do ?? she didn’t know what happened to my daughter..thank you sooo much I finally find the comfort I was really sad I had all the crazy thoughts.. I will go to her doctor next week i hope she can help.. again thanks a lot

  65. Ashez

    my daughter is 2 years old in a few days and she has been having this whole gasping thing since she was only 1 week old. it sounds like she cant breath for about 10-15 seconds and there is absolute terror in her eyes as it is happening. it scares the hell outta me every time it happens. we have been to the doctors a million and one times it seems and they always tell us the same thing.. that its normal for most babies to have this happen to them.

    I guess most babies/toddlers have this problem. it is really common. since it doesn’t last too long it doesn’t worry me all that much any more cause i know it’ll just go away. although i am worried that next time could be worse. i hope not but its always in the back of my mind. her doctors appointment is coming up in about a week so i am going to talk to the doctor about getting some GERD testing done to make sure that’s what it is.. anyways, thank all of you for all your comments. it really does help to know there is other people out there with the same problems as us! thanks again…

  66. Dad

    My 9 week old daughter just started this, she is in hospital with her mother now while i do some research on it. She woke up gasping for breath, or like something was squeezing her wind pipe. and it lasted about 10 mins. we phoned 999 to be on the safe side.. I hope it’s nothing too serious.

  67. same

    I have a 2-month-old and she has done the gasping noise since she was 2 weeks old…it scares the heck out of my husband and I. I do notice she does it when she is laying down and not when she is upright or on her tummy. It just seems like she can’t breathe. Sometimes she will do it a couple of times in a row. After examining her My doctor also said this was reflux although she rarely spits up. She does get hiccups a lot. I am breastfeeding her, I don’t know if that makes any difference. As a mom, I can’t help but worry regardless of what my doc says. Hearing that other people are going through this also makes me feel like this may be more normal than not…its just so strange that this never happened to my son.

  68. Granny

    My daughter’s baby who is one month old is exhibiting this behavior a lot.

    This has been happening since he was born, the doctor said he is healthy but it appears that the episodes are becoming more frequent.

    I can see the panic on the baby’s face when this is happening.

    My daughter has slept with the baby on her tummy since he was born, she is frightened to put him in a crib.

    The idea of him sleeping on his tummy may be a possible solution.

  69. New daddy in CT

    I just checked the web for this topic and unfortunately, we ( Moma and I ) thought this sound was our little 9-week-old angel starting to laugh. So I believe we encouraged it a little, but we will keep an eye on her & consult the Dr in 2 days during our scheduled appointment.. Very helpful and thank you for posting your experience.

  70. Agnes

    My daughter turned 6 months old yesterday. This morning she made a squeaky/ wheezing sound, twice. As the day progressed she had 2 more episodes& she appeared to be gasping for air. Each lasted a few seconds longer than the previous. The 3rd time I took her to the ER because I feared she would stop breathing. Her oxygen was 99%, temp. was 100.4 but her x-rays were normal. No RSV, flu or strep. They asked if she could have been holding her breath, any known allergies or previous history. She hasn’t had any problems before. I am taking her to the Dr. in the morning. Gerd and apnea testing were suggested. She does get hiccups a lot but doesn’t display any other of the symptoms listed.

  71. First Time Mother

    My 5 month daughter has been vocalizing her lungs not in a pain way, but more of a letting you know way plus she gasps for air, but not in pain way either. She is gasping and screaming. Is this normal???

  72. Prisha

    My beautiful girl, 20 month old has the same problem. It seemed stuffy nose to us… She used to breathe loud sometimes initially (we noticed this when she was 4 wks old. As she started sitting and turning .. her sleep positions started changing (sleeping on her tummy). As she was standing and walking.. she was in so much discomfort that she used to stand up all of a sudden. As I have been nursing her since birth… this has provided a lot of comfort to my baby. She hated nappy change and after bath massage (as she was laid down). We got the sleep study done her oxygen level was between 98-88%. Dr. said good news 4u that she doesn’t have OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA. I was relieved… still my baby is unable to sleep well.. gasps a lot, cries in her sleep, mouth breath, snores at times, stops breathing. IT’s very hard to see her in discomfort. she is growing fine, picking up well as per her age. I want to stop breast feeding.. I am unable to do when I see her in discomfort. I love her.. and she is the most precious gift God has given. I want to see her health and happy in life. It’s an old and famous saying ”HEALTH IS WEALTH”.

    Can somebody suggest how to make it better for her to sleep well. IS it true some kids outgrows it. if so what could be the approx. age.

  73. Jenny

    My son was diagnosed with laryngomalacia at 3 weeks old. A proper diagnosis can only be done by a pediatric ENT (ear, nose, throat) specialist. It’s a fairly quick procedure usually done in-office where they pass a small flexible tube with a camera on the end down the back of the baby’s throat to look at the larynx (vocal cords).

    Laryngomalacia is a floppy larynx that collapses when the baby inhales and can cause many of the symptoms you are all describing. The severity varies, but most babies will grow out of it as their larynx tissue strengthens with age. In rare cases, a baby may need surgery. My son had trouble eating (coordinating his swallowing & breathing while drinking) and had feeding therapy that really helped.

    Other airway defect names are listed below. Often these conditions are associated with acid reflux as well.




    Go here to this fabulous support group for more info.

    This defect is often not caught or is overlooked by pediatricians. An ENT must diagnose it, however. Good luck to you all, I hope you find some answers!

  74. Boy mom

    My son gasped so much when he was a newborn through several months old. He still does it when he gets excited. My doctor took a listen (he did it so often that it even happened a few times at his doctors visit, thank goodness (: ) So, he told me it was Tracheomalacia. Which is basically a weak trachea.

    Take your baby to doctor and make sure. It scared me to death every time Cash did this because I would swear he was going to stop breathing. My husband and I were very worried. But after Doc’s explanation we stopped worrying.

  75. Tiffay

    My daughter is 3 and a half months old and she did this for the first time tonight while getting her diaper changed (like 3-4 times)… She has between mild and severe GERD and is on baby Zantac, we tried to get her to drink formula 2 nights ago and she vomited 4 times at 3 am, so I am just continuing the breastfeeding. I was so scared that I called the emergency number for her ped. And she said to make sure that she sleeps propped up either in bed or the infant seat. We are going to see her tomorrow morning, but it is scary!!!! Side note: as I was about to call the dr. And crying I looked at my baby and she started laughing hysterically for the very first time, so who knows if it has to do with that!

    I’ll let you know if I find anything out :) but I will be up all night watching her sleep!