Is Abdominal or Diaphragmatic Breathing Normal in Infants

Abdominal breathing is the right type of breathing for infants and children. In adults, diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing is still retained but chest breathing will become the involuntary norm.

  • Abdominal breathing in children and in infants is normal. In fact, it is the natural instinct of infants and babies to do diaphragmatic breathing.

  • As kids grow up, however, they will learn to chest breathe more and forget about diaphragmatic breathing unless voluntary willed to do so.

  • Abdominal breathing is beneficial for babies and kids as it gives them a lot more oxygen intake than chest breathing.

Here are some reasons why abdominal breathing is prominently observable in babies:

  • The abdominal muscles have not been fully developed yet.

  • Chest expansion is not that noticeable in infants and there isn’t much space for the lungs to expand in the chest.

  • The belly develops fats as the baby develops, this makes it more prominent and breathing is more easily observable.

  • As babies spend a lot of time on their back, a large volume of the lungs are found on mid-back just above the kidneys.

    This way, when the baby breathes, it is the belly that expands.

  • Integrated breathing, using all the muscles of the chest and the abdominal area has not yet developed in young infants.

  • The soft tissues of the belly area are more likely to give than the chest so breathing is most observable there.

Abdominal Breathing in Children: Will it Hurt the Baby?

  • No, it will not harm the baby

  • It is normal for babies and young kids to breathe this way.

  • With development, babies are going to learn how to breathe with the chest.

  • This is a foundation type of breathing and it will not harm the babies in any way.

What Parents Should Look Out For

  • Of course, even when this kind of breathing is normal in infants and little children, parents should always be vigilant about any possible problem occurring.

  • Parents should look out for abnormally high chest expansion in their babies during activity or non-activity.

  • The abnormal involvement of the chest could signify disease like COPD, bronchitis, and asthma.

  • It is also important to check if the breathing suddenly becomes shallow or faster if the child is at rest. Either way, there could be a medical emergency waiting to happen.

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