Newborn Sounds

Question

After breastfeeding, our 6 day old tends to get a "gurgle" or "frog" in her throat or nasal area. Could it be she is getting milk in her nose, causing her to get this phlegmy sound? Thanks.
Kare and Robert Harrigan - Burlingame, California

Dr. Greene's Answer

Kare and Robert, your daughter is beautiful! Often newborns surprise their parents with the amount of noise they make when they breathe, particularly after eating. The cells which line the nasal passages make a similar amount of mucus as they would in an adult, but the surface to volume ratio of the nasal passages is much larger. Newborn sounds abound. Proportionally there is much more mucus in a newborn than in an older child. This is why it is completely normal for newborns to sneeze frequently.

Because the passageways are so flexible and narrow, air coming through them often makes a snorting or gurgling sound. This will be particularly evident when your daughter is lying on her back, or after she nurses, when she has not cleared the mucus for a long time. In addition to the extra mucus, she may get some milk in her nose as she feeds.

Gurgling is a normal part of being a baby. In some babies though, the trachea or windpipe is too floppy. If the noise you hear is primarily when she is breathing in, or if she makes a crowing noise, let your doctor know. There are a few conditions where the structures of the nose, mouth, or throat may not have formed completely. This is correctable, if noticed, so here are a few things you might look for:

  • your baby turns blue or white during feeding or gurgling
  • your baby is not gaining weight well
  • your baby develops a significant cough
  • your baby cannot cry
  • your baby does not seem satisfied after feeding

If any of these occur you should see your doctor to determine the cause of the gurgling. Otherwise, relax and enjoy the magical time when your daughter is so small. In only a few months she will have doubled in weight and these precious newborn sounds will be a thing of the past.

Last medical review on: April 28, 2008
About the Author
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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