Baby yawns are cute, but they happen so many times a day that you start to wonder… Is that normal? Babies yawn a lot in part because they sleep so much, but how much yawning is too much? Newborns and babies may yawn so excessively that it can indicate a medical issue.
Yawning is a common phenomenon, but scientists and researchers still know very little about them and why they happen. Still, we know enough to tell you what excessive yawning in babies can indicate.
Yawning is normal in newborns, and not only is it normal, but yawning is more frequent in newborns than in adults. Yawning is one of our earliest reflexes and has been observed in fetuses in the womb as early as the first trimester. A study published in 2010 showed that preterm babies yawned more frequently than babies born at term and that the amount they yawned decreased as they got older. Newborns not only yawn when fully awake and when drowsy, but can also yawn while asleep.
However, yawning so often that it makes you concerned could indicate something is up. There are certain problems excessive yawning can point to.
Just like in adults, the number one cause of yawning in babies is sleepiness. If they’re tired (and with sleeping more than half the day, aren’t they always?), they may yawn, and that’s perfectly fine. Boredom and drowsiness are highly associated with yawning, but interestingly enough, scientists actually know very little about yawning for how common it is.
Yawning is a normal, common, and frequent reflex in babies and isn’t worrisome in most cases. If you’re worried about excessive yawning and your baby doesn’t seem tired, it can possibly be associated with some diseases.
The most common medical issues associated with increased yawning are sleep-related problems: sleep deprivation, insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy. Not sleeping enough is a serious problem for a baby because they need sleep for their brain to develop properly. If this could be the case, see your pediatrician for a possible diagnosis and treatment.
If they’re so excessively tired when awake that they can’t stop yawning, it could mean they aren’t able to get quality sleep because of an issue like sleep apnea, which they can (and definitely should) be treated for.
Some other issues that may cause yawning include brain tumor, bleeding around the heart, heart attack, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, liver failure, and stroke. Of course, the chances of excessive yawning indicating one of these serious conditions instead of being tired is small, but it is possible.
Remember, babies yawn more than adults, so their normal amount of yawning may seem excessive to you. As always, trust your gut and never hesitate to talk to your pediatrician if you’re concerned.
Yawning is one of the indications that a baby is tired. Just like rubbing their eyes, it can be one of the possible cues, but it doesn’t have to happen before every sleep session. Yawning can also mean other things besides being tired, but being tired is a strong possibility.
When your baby yawns, it’s actually their attempt to stay awake, not fall asleep. Yawning is a reflex to wake us up when we’re tired by giving us a jolt of extra oxygen. You should make sure there isn’t another medical problem, such as air quality in the room that’s causing your baby to need extra oxygen by trying to gasp for it with extra yawns if you’re concerned about excessive yawning.
Babies may also yawn when they feel overwhelmed, bored, or for a medical reason, like trying to clear congestion in the ear. Try to encourage them to yawn if they need to “pop” their ears on an airplane or if there’s changing altitude in another situation.
Whatever the reasons for your baby’s yawns, talk to a pediatrician if you’re worried. Remember, a baby yawning is usually just a common and normal reflex and indicates they are ready for their third nap of the day, as babies do. Enjoy those cute moments and make sure to snap some pics of it before they stop doing it so often as they get older.
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