Symptoms & Ways to Overcome “Grok Grok” Gurgling Breath in Babies

One unpleasant condition experienced by babies is respiratory problems. Mothers often find their baby’s breathing to be gurgling and are unsure how to handle it. Don’t worry, not all gurgling breaths are dangerous. Mothers should be cautious when the gurgling breath is accompanied by wheezing, coughing, fever, and the baby appearing lethargic. The condition of gurgling breath in babies is considered normal and usually disappears after a week or as the baby grows older.

Learn about gurgling breath in babies, its causes, and how to handle it. Discover when it’s normal and when to be concerned. Find effective strategies to alleviate respiratory issues and prevent recurrence.

Why Does Gurgling Breath Occur?

There are several triggers that cause babies to make strange sounds while breathing. If you find your baby’s breath to be gurgling, as if choking, there may be several reasons for it, such as:

1. Mucus

Mucus in the nose or throat can be the cause of gurgling sounds when a baby breathes. In the early stages, babies do not have the ability to expel mucus. If the mucus descends into the throat, the sound becomes even stranger, like a gargling sound. Excessive mucus production that obstructs the respiratory tract is usually caused by allergies.

2. Laryngomalacia

This condition is often detected in newborns and becomes more pronounced when the baby is lying down. Laryngomalacia occurs due to an excess of tissue around the larynx and is generally not harmful. The gurgling sound of a baby’s breath due to this condition usually disappears by the time the child is 2 years old.

3. Viral or Bacterial Infections

Mothers need to be cautious if the baby’s breath is labored and accompanied by fever. This could be caused by bacterial or viral infections such as pneumonia, which can make the baby sound hoarse. Irregular sounds can also be detected with a stethoscope.

Frequently Heard Breath Sounds

It is normal for mothers to feel anxious when they hear their baby’s gurgling breath for some time, but the sound may not necessarily indicate an illness. There are normal sounds that occur when a baby breathes, such as:

  • Gurgling sounds, which occur due to saliva accumulating in the mouth and throat.
  • Sniffing sounds, which occur when the baby is in deep sleep.
  • Hiccups, which occur due to drinking milk too quickly or swallowing a lot of air.
  • Whistling sounds, which occur because the baby’s nasal passages are still narrow.

On the other hand, abnormal breath sounds that need to be observed when a baby is breathing include:

  1. Snoring sounds (stridor), which occur due to blockage or narrowing of the baby’s airway caused by congenital vocal cord abnormalities, the presence of foreign objects, epiglottitis, or croup. This breathing sound is also accompanied by coughing and fever.
  2. Wheezing sounds, which occur due to inflammation or infection in the airways, such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis. It is usually accompanied by fever and coughing.

Handling Gurgling Breath in Babies

Handling can be done independently when a mother observes that the child appears normal but has a strong gurgling breath. Some ways to relieve their breathing include:

1. Clearing Mucus

Mothers can clear mucus from the respiratory tract, which causes the gurgling sound, using a special baby mucus suction device. Before doing so, you need to dilute the mucus by using a saline solution.

2. Maintaining Air Humidity

Keep the baby away from pollution such as smoke, garbage, cigarettes, and motor vehicles in any area. Also, avoid strong perfume fragrances that can irritate the respiratory tract. Mothers can also add a humidifier or use air conditioning to maintain air quality around the baby.

3. Sleeping in the Right Position

Position the baby in a supine position while sleeping to ensure proper breathing and prevent sudden infant death syndrome. Therefore, it is not recommended for babies to sleep on their stomachs as it carries various risks, including sudden infant death syndrome. You can find more information about it here: Baby Sleeping on Stomach: Safe or Dangerous?

4. Ensure Baby’s Nutrition Needs Are Met

Breast milk contains immune-boosting substances that can prevent infections in infants. As long as the baby breastfeeds eagerly, the gurgling sound in their breath can disappear because their breast milk intake is sufficient.

Preventing Gurgling Breath in Babies

In normal conditions, a newborn baby breathes about 30-60 times per minute. This number can decrease to around 20 breaths per minute when the baby is sleeping. If parents feel that the baby’s gurgling breath is still within a normal range and does not disturb their sleep or activities, then the mother just needs to give it time to recover on its own. However, to prevent it from recurring, there are several things that mothers can do:

Ensure the Head is Elevated When Lying Down

Babies cannot support their own heads in certain situations. Therefore, the help of pillows and other supports is needed to elevate the baby’s head higher than their body when laying them down. With this position, the respiratory tract will function properly, allowing the breath to flow from the nose to the lungs. This correct position will prevent mucus buildup and the occurrence of gurgling sounds while breathing.

Maintain Cleanliness in the Room

Mothers can maintain air cleanliness in the baby’s room by minimizing the number of items inside. Aside from being a place for dust to accumulate, a room can become stuffy and affect the quality of the air the baby breathes. Pay attention to the air circulation in the room as well.

Use Saline Drops When Necessary

It is undeniable that babies often produce mucus in certain conditions, such as after bathing or in cold weather. You can use nasal saline drops to clean their nose. These saline drops can help thin the mucus in the respiratory tract, which causes the gurgling sound. However, remember to use them only when necessary.

Comfortable Clothing

Thick clothing can make babies feel hot and have difficulty breathing. Pay attention to the clothes they wear so that they are not too thick and can absorb sweat well. Adjust them according to the weather to avoid affecting their breathing.

Use a Humidifier

Using a humidifier can help moisturize the air around the baby. By getting fresh and humid air, the baby can avoid breath sounds like gurgling.

Expose to Sunlight

The baby’s gurgling breath can quickly disappear when they receive sunlight exposure. In addition to providing warmth to the body, sunlight also provides good physical resilience through vitamin D. You can expose the baby to sunlight for 5-10 minutes between 6 AM and 10 AM.

Steam Therapy

With simple equipment, steam therapy can be done at home to prevent mucus buildup in the respiratory tract. Prepare hot water and add a few drops of eucalyptus oil or camphor oil, then let the baby inhale it.

By knowing the causes and how to handle them, gurgling breath in babies can be addressed on their own. However, if this respiratory problem indicates other issues, promptly consult a doctor for proper treatment. What mothers need is a calm and vigilant attitude in observing the development of a baby experiencing respiratory problems.


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