Is It Normal For Newborns To Yawn A Lot?

Yawning is an involuntary reflex that is persistent both in babies and adults. It is an act of opening your mouth widely to take in and let out a deep breathe. Commonly, it can be identified as a sign of boredom, sleepiness, and tiredness or fatigue. Yawning is also one of the indicators that a newborn is healthy.

However, is it normal for newborns to yawn a lot? Yes, it is normal and a common process that babies go through. A newborn baby is expected to yawn on an average of 30-50 times a day, in contrary to adults yawning which is 20 times a day. However, in cases that excessive yawning becomes more often than the usual, it is now suggested that you seek professional help to check for possible medical problems.

What Is The Normal Frequency Of Yawning?

On an average, a newborn baby is expected to yawn by 30-50 times a day, in contrary to adults yawning which is 20 times a day. Your baby might yawn beyond the average frequency in times of extreme tiredness or fatigue and sleepiness. That’s normal. Other causes of excessive yawning might also be overstimulation through baby’s exposure to a lot of noise, touch, and activities; or withdrawal from medication.

What Are The Benefits Of Yawning To Newborns?

Yawning provides a lot of benefits to babies. First, it helps our babies control the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels of their body. As your baby yawn, he takes in more oxygen in his body and moves more carbon dioxide out of his blood.

Second, yawning allow your baby to stretch his lungs and lung tissues. Stretching can be a way for your baby to flex his muscles and feel more awake. The powerful stretching of the jaw as he yawns is also helpful in increasing blood flow in the face, neck, and head. Lastly, yawning has been identified to regulate the temperature of your baby’s brain. It cools the brain with the oxygen that your baby takes in. 

What Are Some Serious Problems Of Yawning?

In instances that excessive yawning becomes more often than usual, this is the time that it might already have some underlying medical problems. Here are the possible reasons why your baby yawns a lot:

  • Extreme fatigue
    Extreme fatigue might be a possible reason for excessive yawning. Your baby might be exhausted or lacking the energy he needs. To resolve this, consult your doctor to check if your baby is consuming a well-balanced diet.
  • Excessive weight
    Although babies look cute when they are chubby or fat, it is still vital to keep track of their weight. Your baby’s heavyweight can give them a hard to time to crawl and be active during playtime. Sometimes, excessive yawning is also a possible indicator that your baby is overweight or obese.
  • Heart ailments
    If your baby is yawning extensively, you have to consult your pediatrician with its possible reasons. In most cases, heart ailments can be one of them. The pumping of blood in your baby’s heart might be dysfunctional; therefore excessive yawns are needed to induce more oxygen in the blood.
  • Epilepsy
    Newborns excessive yawning is one of the symptoms of epilepsy. Though this only occurs in most extreme cases, you have to be vigilant and seek professional help in case other symptoms persist.

What To Do To Prevent These Serious Problems?

As suggested by Dr. Senthil Kumar, it is necessary to maintain a proper sleeping routine for our babies. Newborn babies should at least have 12-14 hours of sleep. This fixed bedtime routine is important to be followed as much as possible. Not only it saves you time and effort, but it also allows your baby to achieve full rest.

Also, notice your baby’s yawning while doing some activities. If he seems bored, you might as well engage him to activities that capture his interest. Further, make sure that your baby consumes a well-balanced diet. It does not only help him in having good sleep but a good health in general. Lastly, get him a regular checkup. It is always advisable to consult your doctor and rule out possible medical problems.

When A Yawn Means Sleep

Most of the time, yawns are baby’s cue to tell you that they are sleepy. Since maintaining a proper sleeping routine for our babies is vital, below are the list of reminders:

  • Do not ignore your baby’s yawn cues. Always keep an eye on your baby especially when the time is getting close to his bedtime. He might be sending you yawn cues that he is now ready to sleep. However, if there are instances that you cannot see these signals, take him to a quiet and dimly lit room. You might as well engage him to a more gentle and calmer activity. After which, his cues will start to appear.
  • Do not skip the bedtime routine. Stick with a fixed bedtime routine and allow your baby to get used to it. It will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. When putting your baby to sleep, it’s always better to settle him to a relaxing state an hour before his bedtime. Aside from preparing him, it will also give you some time to bond and rest together. 
  • Do not put him to sleep wherever you are. Naps in the stroller, high chair, or car seat do not always provide a comfortable sleep for your baby. Aside from not having the chance to lay down completely, the surrounding noise can be very disturbing to his naps. To develop a good sleeping habit, it is essential that you establish a familiar and comfortable sleep zone for him. His sleep zone could be either his bed or crib. 
  • Do not let them stay up late. Do not let your baby stay up late with the hope that he will sleep in by himself. If you’re having a hard time putting him to sleep in his bedtime schedule, calm him down by taking them to a quiet and dimly lit room. You might also engage him in a calmer activity and sing him a lullaby.
  • Do not give up. If you have not found his perfect bedtime routine yet, do not give up too soon. It might take you weeks and months to perfect your bedtime routine. Yes, it will take some time. But once you have found the perfect bedtime schedule, it would be a total relief. 

What Happens To The Body When Newborns Yawn?

Yawning is an involuntary wide opening of mouth with deep inhalation both through mouth and nose. It is also accompanied by stretching limbs which makes it more satisfying. But do you know what happens to your baby’s body when they yawn? To find out, read the list below:

  • It cools the brain. Yawning has been identified to regulate the temperature of your baby’s brain. It serves as a thermoregulator by cooling off your brain with oxygen.
  • Increased in arousal level. This means that yawning provides a significant number of physiological changes in your baby’s body. Some of these are increased heart rate, releasing active hormones, and stimulation in the baby’s brain functions.
  • It relieves ear discomfort. The contraction and relaxation of ear muscles during yawning relieves ear discomfort. It equalizes the air pressure inside and outside of your baby’s ear.
  • It flexes lung muscles. When yawning, your baby stretches your lungs and lung tissues. This helps your baby strengthen his lungs in effect. Similarly, flexing helps increase their heart rate and makes them feel more awake.

Why Are Yawns Not Contagious To Newborns?

When adults see other people yawn, it is certain that they will also yawn afterward. It seems to be contagious to adults, but not to newborns. The prime reason for this is that contagious yawning is associated with our capacity for empathy - a cognitive capacity that babies have not developed yet in their early stages. It now makes sense why our newborns do not yawn, even though we sometimes yawn in front of them. Another fact that was found is that those who are empathic tends to be more susceptible to contagious yawning.

Related Questions

  • Is it normal for newborns to shake?
    Yes, it is normal for newborn babies to shake in the first three months. This is because their developing neurological system sends more electrical impulses to the baby’s muscles than necessary. However, in the next couple of weeks, she will tend to shake less or no more. 
  • How can I help my newborn with hiccups?
    The best thing to do is to give him a break from feeding and make him burp. You can also give him a pacifier to help him relax his diaphragm. If both did not work, try feeding your baby with gripe water instead. 
  • Are hiccups bad for newborn babies?
    Hiccups are bad for newborn babies if the cause is overfeeding. In order to prevent this, you should slow down feedings and pause from time to time to allow them to burp. Burping also helps them relax their diaphragm muscles.

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