Swallowing sounds

Is it normal to hear my baby swallowing?

Younger babies tend to swallow loudly at the beginning of a feed. They may breathe loudly and even pant and choke when drinking quickly. These are all signs the baby is taking in a lot of milk. Once the milk flow slows down a little, babies will swallow smaller amounts. The sounds this produces have been described as “ahh-ahh-ahh” or “caw-caw-caw”. You may also see the area of the throat behind the chin thicken briefly as the baby swallows. As babies grow, they get better at handling milk and the swallows become quieter and fewer.

A) Gulps

For the first few months after delivery, babies tend to have loud swallowing (gulping) at the beginning of the feed during the “I’m starving” stage of breastfeeding. This is when larger let-downs occur and babies are swallowing large amounts of milk.

As the baby swallows, you should also see the area of the throat behind the chin thicken briefly. Gulping is often accompanied by panting and choking.

Gulping is more noticeable if the mother has a large milk supply or the breast is very full. In these situations, gulping may even persist through the whole feeding.

As babies grow, they can handle the let-downs better, so swallows become quieter. They also become fewer (Qureshi 2002).

Bottle-feeding babies will also gulp.

B) Other swallowing sounds

Once the milk flow slows down a little, babies will swallow smaller amounts. The sounds this produces have been described as “ahh-ahh-ahh” or “caw-caw-caw”. Mothers will notice a temporary pause in the baby’s breath as they swallow as they cannot swallow and breathe at the same time.

The video below shows a baby breastfeeding. Heavy breathing and a few soft swallows can be heard. 

References

Qureshi MA, Vice FL, Taciak VL, et al. Changes in rhythmic suckle feeding patterns in term infants in the first month of life. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2002 Jan;44(1):34-9