15 answers

How to deal with infant with Tracheomalacia?

My almost 3 week old son makes a lot of noise when he breathes. The doctor has told me he believes he had tracheomalacia or a weakness and floppiness of the walls of the windpipe (trachea). As a result his breathing can be quite noisy all day long, but especially when he sleeps, very squeaky and grunty. Besides the noise however, his breathing is not labored and he seems very peaceful - not at all bothered. When he eats, it is harder for him when he's excited, he does much better when it's quite and he can focus on just eating. Does anyone else have any experience with this type of condition with their child?

What can I do next?

Summary

Congenital tracheomalacia generally goes away on its own by the age of 18-24 months. As the tracheal cartilage gets stronger and the trachea grows, the noisy respirations and breathing difficulties gradually stop. Rarely, surgery is needed. Continue to monitor the child to be sure nothing changes, then follow-up with your pediatrician.

So What Happened?™

Wow, what an incredible response! I had no idea so many people have been affected by this condition. It makes me feel better to know that I am not alone and that his noises are not so unusual. For now I am going to continue to monitor him to be sure nothing changes, then I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor at 2 months. I sleep with him right next to me at night because I worry when he seems to gag or stop breathing for a second, but he always alright. The thing that bothers/worries me the most is how much effort it seems to take in order for him to breathe. His nostrils don't flare, and he isn't sucking skin in between his ribs (2 things the doctor told me to watch for), but he moves his head and chest more than he would otherwise and I feel sorry for the little thing. But, he doesn't seem bothered by it so I try not to let it worry me too much. Thank you for all of your advice and support - I will use a lot of it as we work through this.
KS

Featured Answers

Hi KS,

My SIL had that when she was little. My MIL has told me about it several times. She eventually grew out of it. I wish you well!

Sincerely,
Hayley

More Answers

KS:

Hello there! I wanted you to know that most infants respond well to humidified air, careful feedings, and antibiotics for infections. Babies with tracheomalacia must be closely monitored when they have respiratory infections.

Often, the symptoms of tracheomalacia improve as the infant grows.

Rarely, surgery is needed.

Congenital tracheomalacia generally goes away on its own by the age of 18-24 months. As the tracheal cartilage gets stronger and the trachea grows, the noisy respirations and breathing difficulties gradually stop.

Babies born with tracheomalacia may have other congenital abnormalities such as heart defects, developmental delay, or gastroesophageal reflux.

Aspiration pneumonia can occur from inhaling food contents.

Call your health care provider if your child has breathing difficulties or breathing noises. It can become an urgent or emergency condition.

Thankfully, my kids haven't gotten this so far, but that's my recommendation.

Have a blessed day!

My kids all did this when babies. Two of them were preemies. While it drives you crazy because you are constantly checking on baby and worried something could be wrong, I was always reassured by our doctor that they were fine. I think they're just noises babies make when they're "babies." They are just getting used to breathing outside of the womb. This is a whole new world to them. Literally. By the time I had my third one, I put her in her room to sleep at six weeks. She's my best sleeper yet. I couldn't sleep through the night because of the noises. My husband is a heavy sleeper so until then I had him sleep on the side the baby was because the noises didn't phase him. As long as your doctor has checked everything and says it all fine, I'm sure it is. If you would feel better, get a second opinion. Being a first time mom is hard enough without worrying all the time. Always follow your gut. There is also a product on the market that you can put under the babies bed sheet to tell you whether he or she is breathing at all times. I bought it, but never used it. Hope this helps. B.

Typically, your pediatrician would refer you to a PEDIATRIC ENT or pulmonary specialist at the local children's hospital to be checked out. I don't mean to scare you, but sometimes babies need surgical intervention for this. The specialist would do a bronchoscopy (look down the windpipe while under sedation) and/or do a sleep study (a recording of the baby's heart rate, breathing, and oxygen levels) overnight. If your doctor didn't refer you to specialist, you can call and ask them to.

My daughter was born with the same thing. She is 3 months old. We have been to an ENT specialist and they told us that it will take time for the opening to harden. They said that is could take up to 2 years for it to fully develop. Her breathing is noisy when she is awake and quiet when she is sleeping. If she gets excited when she is eating she will start to choke on her milk. Then we have to stop eating and wait until she calms down. If she cries really hard and gets upset, then her breathing sounds worse. The doctors keep telling me that eventually she will out grow this as the opening starts to get harder. I have another daughter but she never had this. Its all new to me as well. I hope your son continues to do well. I am a stay at home mom as well. I have 2 girls-22 months and 3 months.

I don't have any advice for you, but I do have a question. Is this accompanied by a cough that sounds barky (like Crupe)? My 3 and 1/2 month old son has had this cough for well over a month now, and they have ruled out RSV. He seems to breath much better when he's awake; there's really not any noise then. But when he is sleeping, he sounds really loud.

Our son was diagnosed with the same condition when he was about 2 or 3 months old. His Pediatrician referred us to a specialist who ruled out any deformities of the airway. He only made the noise when he got excited or was playing. He eventually outgrew it on his own. I would say probably around 7 months. He is 20 months old now. Since they ruled out physical growth problems we were told it was a harmless condition and he would grow out of it - which he did. Our son didn't have any problems when he was eating or sleeping so I would just keep an eye on him and talk to the Dr. again if it seems to get worse or disrupts his day. Good luck!!!

M.

Our daughter had the same thing. We called it her "chicken noises" because she sounded like a litte chicken! She is now 4 months old and has completly outgrown it. She stopped the noises at about 3 and 1/2 months. If the doctor says not to worry about it- I wouldn't be concerned.

have a great day!

My son had this as well. I originally thought it was the crupe, but my pediatrician said that it was perfectly normal and sometimes children have weaker walls in their trachia than others. My son is 7 months old today and still does it sometimes, but like another mother said, my doctor advised that he would grow out of it and it is no cause for concern.

However, I am a big believer in mother's intuition and if you do not feel comforted by the diagnosis, get a second opinion. Always go with your gut!

My son had it as well. The noise can be quite frightening...but one day you will just notice that it isn't there anymore. My son grew out of it by about 6 months. Sometimes the noises would wake me up and him as well, so I spent the first 5 months with him sleeping on my chest. The condition also gave him acid reflux so we gave him medicine for that. The Doctors told me that I coud lay him on his belly because that opens up his airways better and the noise doesnt seem as bad, but I would only do that at nap time when i could watch him.

My first baby had this and they termed it Laryngomalacia. I remember everyone saying, "Oh, she sounds like she has a cold." Then we would have to give the whole lesson on Laryngomalacia being week throat muscles.... It sounds like your baby is still growing. I am sure that is what they will monitor on your doctor visits. My daughter's condition was so severe that they termed her as having a failure to thrive and had to operate on her at 6 weeks old! I think it is a VERY small percentage of children that have to go through this but it was very scary, especially because it was our first child. After the operation there was absolutely no problems and today is her 9th Birthday!

Hi KS,

My SIL had that when she was little. My MIL has told me about it several times. She eventually grew out of it. I wish you well!

Sincerely,
Hayley

My daughter was born with the same condition. She is now 2.5 years and doing fine. The doctor told me that they will "grow" out of it and she hardly makes any noise any more. Like your son she was always louder when she was excited or upset. Everyone always thought she sounded horrible when she ate and there was lots of concern from people who were not around her often. Everyone thought she had some horrible respiratory problem and would constantly ask "Have you taken her to a doctor??" I only breastfed for 2 weeks and she was on a bottle after that. I did find that using a slower flow nipple was helpful. Other than that, business as usual - good luck!

My daughter is 3 and a half and also has Tracheomalacia. She had many many tests in her first year and a half of life to rule out everything else. She has grown very well and this condition does not seem to bother her nearly as much as it concerns other people who hear her breathe and coughing. For my daughter the chronic cough that accompanies this condition is much worse than the breathing. She sounds like she has a 50 year old smoker cough... Sometimes her coughing causes her to gag and throw up which is pretty rough but she has gotten so used to it that it doesn't even phase her she just goes on to the next activity as if nothing happened. The doctor's thought she might out grow it by now and it has improved but hopefully more progress will be made as she continues to grow.

My son has tracheomalacia, due to being intubated for a total of 3 weeks after his birth at 26 weeks gestation. He was 2lbs 1oz. The endotracheal tube that supplied his breath for so long stretched out or weakened his airway. He is very noisy at times, and everyone asks "Is he always this noisy?" To me, its just him, and I don't notice it being out of the ordinary. He's starting to quiet down, as he's been home for two months now. He's six weeks old adjusted age (what he'd be if born when he was supposed to be!) Like your son, when he's excited you can really hear how loud his breathing is, but other than that, its not labored or anything during his sleep or when he's just chilling out. I agree that his breathing during eating is much better when he's not around a lot of stimulation during feeding, however, he's our first, so he doesn't have brothers or sisters vying for attention while I'm feeding him, either!

Yes, my name is A. and my son Daniel had tracheomalacia or commonly known as STRIDOR. He had it when he was a few weeks old and it sounded much worse at night when he was sleeping. My son has Down syndrome but the tracheomalacia can happen with special needs children or typical child. Down syndrome children can sometimes have low tone or be floppy because of the low tone and it can cause this too. He grew out of his after he got a bit older and his weakness and floppiness in the walls of the windpipe got stronger. I did have him seen by an ENT just to make sure. You can as well if you want peace of mind, but he should grow out of it. My son is 3 and recently had his tonsils and adenoids out and is happy and healthy!

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