Wheezing and breathing difficulties
Look at the signs
Any kind of breathing difficulty your infant or child experiences can be scary for parents. It may be nothing to worry about and could just be normal baby ‘snuffles’.
Use your instincts with newborns and babies. It could be:
- Rapid breathing or panting, which is common. There is no other sign of illness, it comes and goes and your baby is breathing comfortably most of the time, there’s normally no need to worry.
- Breathing may sound a bit rattly. Try holding your baby upright.
- Occasional coughing or choking which may occur when a baby takes in milk too quickly with feeds. Try to slow things down a bit.
- A cold or mild cough. Keep an eye on them at this stage and use your instincts. If you are worried talk to your health visitor or call NHS Direct.
In older babies and toddlers you may notice:
- Coughing, runny nose, mild temperature (see the Coughs and colds section).
- Croup (hoarse voice, barking cough) needs to be assessed by a doctor and may need treating with steroids.
- Child appears pale or even slightly blue-ish.
If you’re worried about your child wheezing or having breathing difficulties even after reading this, contact a doctor immediately.
You need to contact your doctor immediately if your baby or toddler:
- Seems to find breathing hard work and they are sucking in their ribs and tummy.
- Their chest looks like it is ‘caving in.’
- Their skin turns a blue colour especially lips and nose.
- They can’t complete a full sentence without stopping to take a breath.
Newborns often have unusual breathing patterns and most babies have a stuffy nose for the first several weeks of life. Newborn babies breathe much faster than older children.
Make sure your baby or toddler has not swallowed something they should not have, like a plastic toy. If this happens and they appear to be choking, get help straight away
Is your child a typical, active toddler?
Have they been running around?
Sit them down and let them get their breath back and then see how they are.
The above information cannot replace specialist treatment. If you are still worried, contact NHS Direct or your surgery.