Q: My baby will be 2-months-old on Friday and I have noticed that he wheezes a lot and breathes heavily mostly during or after I feed him his bottle. Could he have asthma or breathing problems?
A: Newborns often breathe a bit nosily, especially when they nurse or drink from a bottle. That’s because their noses are tiny and they’re not very good at clearing them of mucus by themselves. Because they don’t know how to blow their noses or sniff yet, any mucus that is in the nose just gurgles back and forth with each inhalation and exhalation. This is why those creepy-looking bulb suction devices they send home with you from the hospital are so wonderful. After you suction out your babies nostrils, you might notice that his breathing isn’t quite as noisy during or after his feedings.
Nasal congestion is common and is usually perfectly normal, but wheezing is a different story. Wheezing is a noise that is generated in the lungs. It’s caused by mucus or inflammation in the lungs, and neither is good. Sometimes it’s easier to distinguish nasal congestion from wheezing by putting your ear to your baby’s back while he’s taking his bottle. If you listen carefully, you can usually tell if the noise is actually coming from the lungs rather than just the nostrils. If you feel that your baby really is wheezing, it’s important to take him to his pediatrician soon. It could be a sign of a respiratory infection or asthma.