As a new parent, it can feel overwhelming to figure out what is considered "normal" baby behavior and when something is wrong. Every last hiccup, sniffle, and sneeze can make families stop and wonder if there is something they should be concerned about. Is the baby cold? Do they not feel well?
To help bring peace of mind, let’s take a closer look at why newborn sneezes and when or if you should be worried.
Table of Contents
1. How Much Newborn Sneezing is Normal?
2. Infant Reflexes
3. Newborn Sneezing
4. Is it Normal for a Newborn to Sneeze? Illness
5. Newborn Sneezing and Stuffy Nose
6. Why Do Newborns Sneeze?
How Much Newborn Sneezing is Normal?
Each sneeze from your little one can make you wonder if they are not feeling well or perhaps you are dealing with an allergy. The good news is that newborns commonly sneeze more often than older kids or adults.
Your newborn was born with several reflexes that will be lost as the nervous system matures. Sneezing is one of those spontaneous movements that will be present lifelong.
A newborn's sneeze is a natural defense mechanism to clear the nasal passage and helps protect the body from germs. Sneezing can indicate that your little one's nervous system is functioning correctly.
Not only are sneezes common and nothing to worry about, but they are a good sign that your little ones’ systems are working. This includes when your newborn's tiny nasal passages can quickly become blocked or irritated, prompting some grunting and sneezing from time to time.
Common Newborn Sounds and Sneezing
From the moment your preemie or newborn arrives, families will be treated to many noises and reactions from their mouth and nose, from sneezing to the cutest little squeaks.
Your baby's movements in their first weeks are done by reflex. You may have noticed simple things like if you put your finger in your little one’s tiny mouth, then your baby will suck reflexively. They shut their eyes tightly or even sneeze when entering a brightly lit room.
These are automatic muscle reaction that occurs in response to stimulation. Other examples of infant reflexes include grasping, stepping, and reflexive smiling. Most of these normal responses will disappear as a baby becomes older.
Sneezing is one of the baby’s reflexes that does not fade over time. This protective impulse helps the body to eliminate irritating or harmful things. Newborns sneeze to eject any germs and particles in the nose and protect themselves from illness.
Can Babies Have Allergies?
An allergic response happens when your baby’s immune system reacts to something it thinks is a threat. The immune system is used to protect your baby and keep it from worrisome germs.
Environmental allergies can cause babies to sneeze frequently. Watch for pollen, dust mites, pet dander, grass, or mold, especially if there is a family history. Parents may also notice a stuffy nose, a mild cough, and watery eyes.
If nasal allergies trigger your little one’s sneezing, the best strategy is to keep irritants away from your little one. Here are some steps to reduce or eliminate your baby's exposure to common irritants and allergens such as pet dander, mold, dust mites, tobacco smoke, and strong odors.
✅ Keep pets outside or in a separate room away from where your baby sleeps, plays, and eats
✅ Check your house for mold and replace carpets if necessary. Use a dehumidifier to prevent future mold build-up, especially in damp areas like the basement
✅ Wash bedding in hot water weekly to prevent dust mites, and use mattress covers
✅ Refrain from smoking or smelling tobacco smoke around your baby, and don’t use or spray strong fragrances
Although these allergens can irritate your baby, there’s usually no reason to consider this an emergency. If symptoms interfere with daily routines and prevent your little one from sleeping, eating, or socializing, your healthcare provider can offer some solutions and help you determine the cause.
If you believe your little one’s allergies may be caused by their baby formula or other food-related discomforts, the signs and symptoms will be much different.
Newborns have much smaller nasal passages than adults, which causes mucus to dry more quickly. Dry air outside and cycling through your home can cause sneezing.
✅ It may be beneficial to run a humidifier in your baby’s room to combat dry air
✅ Cool air humidifiers can help loosen the mucus and congestion of a stuffed-up newborn
Is it Normal for a Newborn to Sneeze? Illness
Although sneezing is, for the most part, a typical sign of a healthy newborn, there are times when your baby may be sick. Frequent sneezing in a newborn could be one sign of a cold.
Frequent sneezing along with a cough, fever, and trouble breathing can also indicate that it is more than a cold, like a respiratory infection. Please seek immediate medical attention.
Newborn Keeps Sneezing
As your little one grows more robust, their immune system will continue to work hard. While they are young, their immune system is relatively weak, making them more susceptible to illness.
Perhaps the simplest but one of the most essential habits your family can practice is washing your hands.
✅ Protect your little one from germs by frequently and thoroughly washing and ensuring anyone touching your baby is doing so as well.
Newborn Sneezing and Stuffy Nose
A newborn baby is more susceptible to stuffy or blocked nostrils due to having a tiny and narrow nasal passage. This results in them needing to clear their nose more frequently, which is done by sneezing.
What to Do When a Newborn Has a Stuffy Nose?
Stuffy noses can concern a parent when their little one becomes irritable or fussy. This is especially true when babies cannot use their mouths for breathing, so they rely on their noses.
Blocked nostrils, illness, and a stuffed-up nose can make breathing harder for them. To help clear tiny air passages, families can turn to saline nose drops, saline nose spray, or a bulb syringe.
If your little ones’ mucus is too thick to suction, you can thin it with saline. Make sure to gently wipe off the mucus around the baby’s nose with tissues to prevent irritation, and it is best to limit suctioning to no more than four times each day to avoid irritating the nose.
Why Do Newborns Sneeze?
Newborn sneezing is common and a protective reflex that helps those tiny nasal passages get rid of common irritants. When newborns sneeze a lot, it is usually a good sign that their reflexes and senses are functioning.
Whether your little one is dealing with sneezing, constipation, or sensitivity, My Organic Company has nutrition to support your little one from the first day through the toddler years. We are here for your family.