As a new parent, every sound that your baby makes can terrify you. A sudden whine can make you think that your child is in pain, or a single cough may make you worried about an unseen illness. Grunting baby syndrome is a term that is used to refer to the grunting noises that your baby will sometimes make when something is not quite right. When you hear your child cry, you know that they need something. Grunting noises are used to convey a feeling like crying is used to convey need.
Most of the time, grunting baby syndrome happens because your baby is trying to have a bowel movement. In the womb, babies are not used to using these muscles. As an infant, they have to figure out how to use the right muscles to make bowel movements happen. The baby may try to push as much as possible as their face turns purple or red. Meanwhile, they may continue to grunt as they exert themselves. If grunting is caused by a bowel movement, then it is perfectly normal.
What Does It Mean When My Baby Has Grunting Baby Syndrome?
Grunting is probably not the cutest sound that a baby makes, but it is a sign that something is going on. Keep in mind that “grunting baby syndrome” is just a nickname—it does not mean that your baby is sick, injured or hurt in any way. It is just a term used to describe some of the sounds babies experience when they are having a bowel movement.
Remember how often your baby grunts. If they do this all the time, it could mean that your baby is in respiratory distress and needs to go to the doctor right away. If the grunting is just from a bowel movement, you may also notice:
– Squeezing of the stomach muscles
– Their face may turn red or purple for a few seconds before returning to normal
– A bowel movement within 5 to 10 minutes afterward
What Causes Grunting Baby Syndrome to Happen?
If your baby is 10 weeks old or younger, their stomach muscles are probably just underdeveloped. This means that they have to learn how to poop on their own. As an adult, you already know how to relax and contract your muscles to have a bowel movement. Your baby needs to learn how to relax and tighten their muscles for easy bowel movements.
Grunting is a natural response that helps the baby to push out the bowel movement. As your baby continues to grunt and push, they will eventually be able to pass the bowel movement. Once your baby is older, the grunting should eventually stop.
How to Treat Grunting Baby Syndrome
Often, parents feel like they need to do something to help their baby poop. Some parents use a Q-tip to stimulate the anus so that it relaxes and temporarily allows the stool to pass. This is actually not what you should do though. If you always stimulate the baby to poop, they will not learn how to relax the muscle on their own and the grunting baby syndrome will continue.
Ideally, you should let your baby figure things out on their own. It is difficult for a new parent to wait and let their child figure things out, but your baby will be able to do it. If you are worried, you can always talk to your pediatrician. Some babies do end up with constipation, so your doctor can tell you if stimulation is needed or if your baby needs to be treated for a different medical condition.
In reality, there is really nothing that you can do as a parent to treat grunting baby syndrome. No matter how much you want to help, the grunts are just a normal process of growing up. If your baby is actually constipated, has hard bowel movements, no bowel movements for three days or a distended stomach, then you should see your doctor. Most cases of constipation, grunting and bowel movements are related to feeding and can be resolved fairly easily.
What Can You Do as a Parent?
The main thing you can do is be observant. Watch your baby for signs and symptoms. Be particularly attentive after they feed because this is normally when most babies have a bowel movement. You can also:
1. Be Patient
Waiting is difficult, but it is most likely the best course of action. Your baby will probably stop grunting within 5 to 10 minutes. In the interim, try to distract your baby with a toy, hold them for a while or wrap them in a blanket to help them relax.
2. Keep a Journal
If the grunting is caused by something other than normal bowel movements, you will ultimately need to tell your doctor all of the symptoms. To do this, you have to actually remember everything that has happened. Keeping a journal can help you keep track of when you feed the baby, the type of formula and the number of ounces they consumed. If you are breastfeeding, you can write down everything that you ate. In addition, you may want to write down when they have a bowel movement, what it looks like and how much they go. This will help you track the information that your doctor could one day need to determine if there is a problem.
3. Consider Changing Formulas
If your baby continues to have problems, you may need to change their formula to something that is easier to digest. There are many different types of formulas available, so you can ask your pediatrician which formula will be best for your baby’s stomach. Once you switch to a new formula, continue using the new one for at least three days so that you have time to see if there are any differences or reactions.