Frequent Sneezing in Newborns & Babies

Have you noticed your newborn sneezing from time to time? You may be surprised to learn that sneezing is a completely normal and expected behaviour among babies. Sneezing offers your baby a way to clear their nasal passages and is just as common as gurgling, yawning or burping. These are just some of the adorable noises and reflexes your little one will exhibit during their first few months of life. Read below to learn about sneezing in newborns, what’s normal and when to contact your child’s GP.

Why Do Newborns Sneeze?

Occasional sneezes are nothing to worry about. Nevertheless, you may still find yourself questioning ‘why does my baby sneeze so much?’. It may interest you to learn that a lot of parents experience the same worry. It’s entirely natural to question whether your baby is sick and requires medical assistance. Rest assured, it is normal for newborns to sneeze both from time to time and a lot at once.

Common Newborn Sounds and Sneezing

Babies often make all sorts of sounds, from snorting to grunts, gurgles and whistles. There are several ways your baby will let you know they do not like what is going on around them. These include:

  • Crying or fussing

  • Turning eyes, head or body away from you

  • Irregular breathing

  • Gagging, spitting out

  • Frowning

  • Hiccupping

  • Yawning

  • Sneezing

  • Becoming red, pale or mottled

  • Jerky movements

  • Splaying fingers

  • Limp or stiff posture

  • Back arching

  • Falling asleep

All of these are very common among babies and nothing to worry about. They often act as a good indication that your baby is developing their senses. In their first few months of life, your baby is starting to react to the world around them, be it with a laugh and gurgle or a big sneeze. As their nasal passages are so small, they often become blocked or irritated, which will prompt them to let out a little grunt or sneeze. This is all absolutely normal and does not generally indicate anything is wrong.

Infant Reflexes

We are all born with a certain set of instincts. One of these is sucking. Newborn babies will learn to coordinate their sucking with their breathing during feeding in the first few days. They will also automatically turn towards a nipple if it’s brushed against their cheek and open their mouths if their upper lip is stroked. Your little one will most likely exhibit these and other reflexes as they develop.

By definition, a reflex is an automatic response to stimuli. Most of the baby reflexes your little one learns for survival will start to disappear once they become older. However, sneezing is one reflex that stays with us throughout our lives. Just like you need to clear your airways from time to time, your baby sneezes to rid their body of irritating or harmful things. A good sneeze is your body’s number one way of ejecting germs and common irritants such as dust, fuzz, strong odours, tobacco smoke and other allergens such as pollen and dust mites. In essence, it’s a quick and effective way for your baby to protect themself against illness. It also demonstrates that your little one’s senses are working well, so generally isn’t any cause for concern. That being said, if you have any worries or questions, your child’s GP will be happy to help.

In Summary

Wondering why your newborn lets out a cute little achoo from time to time? Sneezing is an important reflex that helps clear your baby’s small nasal passage and eject common germs, irritants and allergens. All in all, sneezing is one of the most important reflexes your little one will develop early on in life.


Newborn Sneezing and Common Illnesses

While newborn sneezing is typically nothing to worry about, if you notice your baby sneezing excessively this could be a sign of respiratory illness. However, it often won’t be the only symptom exhibited by your baby. Sneezing on its own is not usually an indication that anything is wrong, but if accompanied by other symptoms such as a fever, coughing or a blocked nose, your child may have a cold.

Newborn Sneezing, the Common Cold and Flu

Newborn babies are very delicate, and the same goes for their immune systems. Coughs and colds are extremely common in babies and tend to spike over the autumn and winter months. In fact, it’s normal for a child to have 8 or more colds a year! They can usually be attributed to an infection and the majority of babies will recover on their own. The most common symptoms of the common cold and flu include a runny nose, congestion, sneezing, fever and coughing and difficultly sleeping.

Other common cold and flu symptoms include:

If your child has any of the following, you should ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 – dial 111:

  • Laboured/rapid breathing

  • A harsh breath noise as they breathe in

  • Symptoms of dehydration (sunken eyes, drowsy or not passed urine for 12 hours)

  • Becoming drowsy or excessively sleepy

  • A fever of 38°C or above for more than 5 days

  • Seems to be getting worse and you are worried.

In Summary

If you notice your child sneezing accompanied by a temperature and coughing, they may have a common cold or seasonal flu. This is generally nothing to worry about as common colds are – as the name suggests – very common among newborns and adults alike. Your little one should recover within a few days. However, if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, it may be a good idea to take a trip to the doctor’s office.



Newborn Development
Baby Reflexes Explained

Newborn Sneezing and Allergies

Pesky seasonal allergies like hay fever aren’t solely limited to adults. Babies can also get a serious case of the sniffles each time spring rolls around. Due to their irritating and blocking effect on the nasal passages, allergies can cause sneezing and other symptoms such as a runny nose. Substances that can cause an allergic reaction are referred to as allergens, and they include:

  • Grass and tree pollen

  • Dust mites

  • Animal dander

  • Mould

  • Household chemicals.

If your child has an allergy to a certain allergen, they may exhibit some of the following symptoms within a few minutes of exposure:

  • Sneezing

  • A blocked or runny nose

  • Red, itchy, watery eyes

  • Wheezing and coughing

  • A red itchy rash

  • Worsening of asthma or eczema symptoms.

If your child has any of the above symptoms after spending some time around one of the above allergens, they may have an allergy. For example, if your notice your child sneezing and itching their eyes after playing in a field of grass, they may be suffering from hay fever. It can be helpful to speak to your child’s GP if you think they may have an allergy. They will be able to advise you on the root cause and the best treatment for your little one.

In Summary

Allergies aren’t just limited to grown-ups – your baby may also be affected by them. If you notice your child sneezing excessively or any of the other symptoms listed above after exposure to a common allergen, they could have an allergy. Speak to your child’s GP if you suspect they may have an allergy to find out the best treatment and rule out anything else.


Remedies for a Sneezing Newborn

It can often be hard to watch your baby struggling, and the same applies to sneezing. Luckily, sneezing is generally harmless and completely normal for babies. However, in some cases, it may indicate that your child has caught a cold or is suffering from allergies. If your newborn’s sneezing is caused by a respiratory infection like the common cold or flu, your child’s GP may recommend a number of ways to alleviate your baby’s symptoms. These may include encouraging your child to drink more, offering more frequent smaller feeds, or using saline nose drops or a spray to help with a blocked nose. On the other hand, if your little one is sneezing due to nasal allergies, the number one tactic is to keep your child away from irritants. However, this isn’t always practical. Here are some things you can do to help manage:

  • food allergies by watching what your baby eats

  • animal allergies by keeping pets outside as much as possible and washing them regularly

  • mould allergies by keeping your home dry and well-ventilated and managing any damp or condensation

  • hay fever by staying indoors and avoiding grassy areas when the pollen count is high

  • dust mite allergies by using allergy-proof duvets and pillows, and fitting wooden floors instead of carpets.

The Bottom Line

Sneezing is a completely normal phenomenon among newborns, infants and adults alike. It is one of the natural ways in which your baby’s body gets rid of germs and irritants. In this way, it can actually be a good sign that your little one’s reflexes and senses are working properly. If you notice that your baby’s sneezing is accompanied by a temperature or cough, this may indicate that they are currently suffering from the common cold or flu. These respiratory illnesses typically clear up on their own with minimal interference after a couple of days, but if you have any concerns, it may be worth speaking to your child’s GP. Sneezing may also be attributable to certain allergies such as hay fever. Your baby is constantly developing and finding new ways to communicate with your during their first few weeks on the planet. Some of these ways may surprise you, but most are nothing to worry about and a sign your little one is growing and developing reflexes that are key to their development.

How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS).The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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