Grunting Baby Syndrome: Do You Need To Worry About It?

For new parents, your newborn is like an unending TV show. You watch every step, move or sound they make with concern. Every blip, beep or bop sound will never go unnoticed. It is with a good reason, as you baby only communicates to you through these sounds.

Most of the time, the gurgling and squirms are normal, funny and sweet to some extent. However, when it comes to grunting, you are thrown into a flurry of worries. This is because you are most likely less equipped to deal with such baby sounds.

Grunting Baby Syndrome (GBS) is the term used to describe the condition in which your baby grunts continually, more so when trying to pass out poop. The condition results when the baby is having difficulties to control his bowel movements.

All these might sound scary to you, but should you be scared when your baby grunts? In this article, I explore everything you need to know about GBS so that you know how to deal with the situation.

What Is Grunting Baby Syndrome and What Causes It?

1. Undeveloped Pooping Technique

When you hear your baby grunting, it mostly means that he is struggling to get his bowel movements in order. At such a young age, the baby has not figured out a way of relaxing the pelvic floor while at the same time applying pressure to the abdomen to move gas or stool out of his system.

As a result of his weak abdominal muscles, the baby has to wear down his diaphragm against the voice box that remains closed. What results is the generation of the grunting noise that you hear.

Until all these movements have been figured out by the baby, and the muscles have been well coordinated, your baby will produce the grunting sounds for a couple of months. As the baby grunts, his body is attempting to relax the muscles in vain.

This leads to more grunting, hence the Baby Grunting syndrome. In case the grunting happens when passing out stool, it will stop when the poop has successfully been passed. It is, therefore, a common condition and does not indicate anything serious.

Your little one may look like he is struggling; the head skin tone may become red or purple and may take several minutes in this condition. Baby cries may accompany it too at times. The sounds may be frustrating and unpleasant for you, but they will soon disappear.

However, this condition should never be confused with constipation as it only just a muscular coordination issue and not a digestive problem. In fact, a baby with GBS will eventually pass normal soft poop that is yellowish as usual.

2. Lying on the Back

Another reason why your baby is grunting is that he could be lying on his back, thereby making bowel movements hard to get underway. The argument is that when the baby is on his back, his feet have nothing to rest on. This situation makes it impossible for the stomach muscles to push down the poop. This grunting mostly occurs when the baby is sleeping or lying in his crib.

Symptoms of Grunting Baby Syndrome

As I have earlier stated, GBS is very different from constipation. They sound somehow the same, but some signs and symptoms distinguish the two from each other. Here are some that you should look out for.

  • Grunting
  • Straining
  • Crying
  • Turning purple or red
  • Baby squeezing his tummy muscles
  • Bowel movement occurs after about 5-10 minutes of the struggles

You need to keep in mind that these signs might be different from baby to baby. However, for most of the cases of GBS, these symptoms are the most common. Vigilance too is needed, as continued grunting can be as a result of respiratory distress. If this is the case, then you need to call your doctor.

Remedies for Grunting Baby Syndrome

The remedy for GBS is a very simple one, do nothing about it. Just calm down and turn off all the Panic modes and relax, albeit with difficulty. This is a normal condition, and most babies will probably go through it, however heartbreaking it is for their parents.

As GBS is concerned, the best approach is letting the baby take charge of the whole condition. The grunting may be laughable at first, but it will ease out as the muscle coordination becomes well established. And sometimes, the undeveloped bowel movements will soon become easier for the baby and the grunting will stop.

When you see your baby straining, and even crying at times, you may be tempted to provide him some sort of relief. Some doctors go ahead and recommend that you stimulate the baby’s anus using either an anal thermometer or cotton ball with Vaseline.

This method actually works in aiding the anus muscles to relax, and stool passes with more ease. The grunts and cries reduce much to your relief (and the baby’s), but this introduces another problem altogether.

By helping to stimulate the anus muscles, you are conditioning the baby to only poop when such stimulation is present. When this goes on for some time, you may notice that the baby is not able to do the messy business without you lending a helping hand (and you do not want that).

Is It Recommended To Stimulate Your Baby To Poop?

For babies, it is important to let them learn how to coordinate their own muscles and then be able to pass stool without any stimulation. This is basically how the baby’s body works. On the other hand, you need to avoid buying any medication for treating the same, unless your pediatrician advised you to do so.

I know that this will be a tough task, more so for new parents. It may be preventing you from enjoying sweet moments with your baby, but always remember that this condition is not permanent and will soon resolve itself.

When Should You Worry?

There exists a line between normal GBS symptoms and grunting that indicates an extremely sick baby. When the grunting reaches certain levels, then you need to worry and consult your doctor or pediatrician as soon as possible.

  • Chronological grunting with every breath that the baby makes is never normal and is not a sign of the syndrome.
  • If the baby grunts after every exhale of air, then he may be having a respiratory health issue.
  • When the baby is having a fever and appears to be in severe distress, then you need to consult a doctor.

A combination of these issues with grunting when breathing can be an indicator of various health issues such as:

  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Sepsis
  • Meningitis
  • Heart failure (fluids build up in the lungs, causing shortness of breath)

This is why it is necessary to take the baby for immediate checkups if you suspect his condition to be GBS no more.


Most of the sounds that come from your baby are always adorable and normal (except the cries of course). Even grunting can be funny if you ignore the straining and crying part. However, grunting in babies is a normal condition that you need not worry about.

It just means that the baby still has baby stool passing lessons that he still needs to work on. With time, these grunts will subside, and you will see your adorable baby back. However, you will need to be keen and watch for any serious symptoms that may be a sign of other inherent health issues.

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