Baby breathing patterns: what's normal and when to seek help

Baby breathing patterns: what's normal and when to seek help

Learn about normal baby breathing rates and when to seek help. Discover some of the factors influencing breathing patterns today.
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New parents worry about whether their baby’s breathing is normal, is it too fast? Too slow? too noisy?  “How many breaths per minute is normal for an infant?”

Read on for the answer as we discuss all things related to your little one’s respiratory rate.

What is a normal breathing rate for babies?

There is a range of breaths per minute that is normal for newborns. Because breathing rate can fluctuate, when counting an infant’s respiratory rate it is best assessed by counting for a full 60 seconds. The respiratory rate for newborns and infants ranges most typically from 35 to 60 breaths per minute. However, a prolonged respiratory rate of 60 breaths per minute may indicate a respiratory issue that should be addressed with your pediatrician. Respiratory rate varies based on your infant's activity, and depends on what they’re doing; are they playing? sleeping? Crying? The most accurate respiratory rate is obtained while your baby is resting or asleep.

Signs of healthy breathing

Checking your baby’s breathing rate frequently is common for parents, especially when they’re snoozing in their bassinet. There are ways you can look to reassure yourself that all is well.

The following are good indicators that your infant’s breathing is normal:

  • Breathing appears smooth with gentle up and down chest movements.
  • Babies can sound snorty and congested, like barnyard animals at times, but if they appear comfortable despite the noises, their breathing is likely okay.
  • They appear relaxed and comfortable.

Why do breathing rates change?

Of course, your little one won’t have the same breathing rate 24/7. 

These factors have an impact on baby breaths per minute:

  • Sleeping. When a baby is sleeping, their breathing rates are slower than when they’re awake. Newborns do however experience periodic breathing often while asleep:  episodes of fast breathing (almost like panting)  followed by a pause in breathing of up to 10 to 15 seconds. This is normal and is typically outgrown within a few months. 
  • Calm and awake. calm and alert babies usually maintain a regular and steady breathing pattern.
  • Crying. When babies cry, their breathing pattern may vary with some deeper breaths followed by a temporary increase in their breathing rate.

Stay on top of your baby's breathing motion with Nanit

Monitoring your little one’s breathing rates can feel like a full-time job, especially with everything else you have to do as a parent. However, the right baby monitor can provide some comfort allowing you to rest easier. 

Enter the Nanit Pro Camera, a sensor-free breathing motion monitoring device that works like a baby monitor, but with the benefit of Breathing Wear. When paired with our Breathing Wear, the camera continuously monitors your baby’s breathing motion, providing real-time respiratory alerts through the app while keeping you updated on their sleep patterns.

You’ll also be able to remotely view your baby from anywhere, whether you’re in the room next door or enjoying a well-deserved night out. Pro Camera sends you sound and motion alerts, tracks room temperature and humidity, and gives you access to sleep data that analyzes your baby’s sleep patterns.

No matter where you’re at in your parenting journey, give yourself the gift of peace of mind with Nanit.


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    Key takeaways

    • Understand normal breathing rates. A newborn breathes at a rate of 35-60 breaths per minute.
    • Know the vital signs of normal breathing. Signs of normal breathing in babies include a steady breathing rhythm and a relaxed demeanor.  
    • Various activities can change your baby’s breathing rate. Sleeping, resting, feeding, and crying all affect how quickly a baby breathes.


    NIH. Normal ranges of heart rate and respiratory rate in children from birth to 18 years: a systematic review of observational studies? 

    Alberta. Learning About Periodic Breathing in Infants. 

    Medical News Today. What to know about newborn respiratory rates. 

    Nanit is dedicated to delivering high-quality, reliable content for our readers. Our Parent Confidently articles are crafted by experienced parenting contributors and are firmly rooted in data and research. To ensure the accuracy and relevance of the content, all articles undergo a rigorous review process by our team of parenting experts. Additionally, our wellness-related content receives further scrutiny from Nanit Lab, our think tank of scientists, engineers, physicians, academic experts, and thought leaders.

    Our primary objective is to furnish readers with the most current, trustworthy, and actionable information concerning a host of parenting topics. We strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions by offering comprehensive and respected insights.

    In pursuit of transparency and credibility, our articles incorporate credible third-party sources, peer-reviewed studies, and abstracts. These sources are directly linked within the text or provided at the bottom of the articles to grant readers easy access to the source material.


    Natalie Barnett, PhD serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.

    Kristy Ojala is Nanit’s Digital Content Director. She spends way too much time looking at maps and weather forecasts and pictures of Devon Rex cats and no-cook dinners. A former sleep champion, she strives to share trustworthy somnabulism tips with other parents—praying for that one fine day when no tiny humans wake her up while it’s still dark out. Her kids highly recommend 3 books, approximately 600 stuffies, Chopin’s “Nocturnes,” and the Nanit Sound + Light for bedtime success.

    Mackenzie Sangster is on the Brand and Community team at Nanit. She supports content development and editing for Nanit’s Parent Confidently blog as well as other marketing initiatives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her friends, cooking, being active, and using the Pro + Flex Duo to keep an eye on her fur-baby, Poppy!

    Holly Hays is a contributor and writer for Nanit, channeling her years as a mama and former magazine editor to create fun, useful content for fellow busy, trying-to-do-their-best parents and caregivers. Holly has written for a wide range of brands and media outlets (Ergobaby, HGTV, Manhattan Toy Company, OXO), loves to cook and read mystery novels, and leans heavily on her two daughters to keep her up to date on all the latest slang.