Your Baby

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About “Grunting Baby Syndrome”

Why your baby's grunts are no cause for concern.
Elena Bakker

Parents of newborns watch their new creation like a television they just can’t turn off.

New parents notice every “beep”, “bop” and “blip” their baby makes.

While a lot of these sounds may throw new parents into a fury of worry, most of them are quite normal and can even be funny.

But if you’ve ever heard your baby grunting, you may be concerned. But should you be?

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What is Grunting Baby Syndrome?

Grunting baby syndrome is an informal term that’s used to describe a condition that some newborns display when they have difficulty with bowel movements. Not to be confused with constipation, a baby with GBS will pass soft stools. A baby with GBS may grunt, strain, cry or even turn purple while passing stools.

Newborns have a lot to learn about how their body works, and naturally, it takes time for them to coordinate their body’s functions. Have you ever tried to swing one arm forward while swinging the other arm backwards? You might find it bit tricky at first; this is what you’re baby is experiencing, only with their abdomen and pelvic floor.

In order for a baby to pass stool, they need to flex their abdominal muscles, while simultaneously relaxing their pelvic floor. This requires coordination that your baby may not have mastered yet. While he/she is trying to coordinate these two actions, your baby may cry, grunt and strain, which will help the abdominal muscles push down on the bowels.

Symptoms of Grunting Baby Syndrome:

For new parents, watching your newborn grunt can be unnerving, especially when constipation is also a worry. If your baby is still passing soft poops, then you can likely rule constipation out.

Once you’ve eliminated constipation from the conversation, the following symptoms are signs that your baby may have Grunting Baby Syndrome

  • Your baby cries, strains and grunts while having a bowel movement.
  • Your baby turns purple or red when having a bowel movement.
  • Your baby appears uncomfortable for 5-10 minutes before having a bowel movement.

If you’re not sure, or if there are other additional symptoms, check with your doctor to rule out any other possible concerns. If your baby is grunting with every breath, has a blue tongue or lips, or a fever, these could be signs of a more serious respiratory condition and you should contact your pediatrician immediately.


What should I do about my grunting baby?

Here’s the good news – NOTHING! Turn your new parent panic button off and relax.

Grunting Baby Syndrome is normal and most babies experience this heartbreaking (though sometimes laughable) discomfort. Admittedly, watching your baby writhe and turn red isn’t the easiest thing to do, but where GBS is concerned it’s important to let your baby’s body take the lead. Let him/her learn how their body works and eventually bowel movements will become easier for them (and you)!

You may want to ease some of your baby’s discomfort, so some doctors recommend stimulating his/her anus with Vaseline and a cotton ball or an anal thermometer.

This will help your baby’s anus to relax and more easily pass the stool. While this aids baby in the moment, this method may cause unwanted consequences later by conditioning your baby to only be able to poo when stimulated.

It’s important for your baby to learn how to coordinate their muscles and pass stool on their own. Also, be sure to avoid any constipation medication unless advised by your pediatrician.

As a new parent, you are probably enjoying every sweet “coo” and “gaa” your baby is sharing with you. While the grunts may seem a little less appealing, try to enjoy them too! As with every aspect of parenting, “this, too, shall pass”. Remember to sit back and enjoy the program .


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  • Avatar
    Sandra Boateng
    July 5, 2018

    This is very helpful as I have been worrying about my new born grunting. Initially thinking it was constipation.

  • Avatar
    mrs salawu
    January 25, 2019

    THanks for this, I am relieved of my worries.

  • Avatar
    March 9, 2019

    My 2 month baby was doing this. I ended up using the 10 minute advanced warning as a cue for potty training (apparently humans didn’t always have diapers and so having an early warning for parents when their infant might poo was genetically advantageous to survival- go figure). As you may have heard in those squatie potty commercials, we are suppose to poop with our knees above our belly in order to align our colin – just take a bucket and wrap a pool noodle over it and place your baby in it. You’ll find s/he’ll be able to ‘relax the pelvic floor’ much more easily when the Colin isn’t also stressed (bent in a U shape) and the knees are already doing some of the work for those stomach muscles. You’ll likely find the ordeal lasts a lot less than 10 minutes too and even that your baby prefers to poop in a bucket to his/her diaper.


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