Breaths per minute for sleeping toddler & child: respiratory rates explained

You want to protect your child at all costs, and watching him struggle to breathe is a heartbreaking experience. As a parent, it is important to know some crucial information about how the respiratory system of your toddler works. You will panic and most likely overreact if you don’t know what is happening.

Knowing the ideal breaths per minute is useful because you can easily measure it yourself as the process is easy. But these measurements will differ if the little one is affected by sickness that disturbs their breathing rhythm. While you are constantly looking for signs that could show any sickness, it is important to consult a doctor when you notice something is wrong.

If your child breaths too quickly, it can be a symptom of lung infection, especially in the first months of age. Continue reading this article as we discuss how many breaths per minute are ideal for a sleeping toddler or child. Additionally, we will also explain respiratory rates so you can avoid overthinking and assuming the worst whenever you notice something unusual happening.

child sleeping

Do newborns breathe fast?

It is known that babies breathe faster than children or adults, and this happens with everyone during their first months of age. Usually, a normal breathing rate for a newborn should usually be between 40 to 60 times per minute when awake. If you notice a value outside this range, it might indicate a problem you need to investigate.

However, the baby’s breathing rate can decrease significantly when sleeping. Once your little one is asleep, you will notice a breathing rate between 30 to 40 times per minute. You should also notice how the breathing pattern is irregular, and you won’t find much consistency in these measurements.

Your baby might breathe fast for a couple of seconds, then rest for a while and will start breathing slower. In medical terms, this is called periodic breathing and is completely normal. It happens because babies use their diaphragm for breathing, so you have nothing to worry about.

But when your newborn changes its breathing pattern while using other muscles and parts of the chest, it might be a sign of a problem that requires immediate medical attention. Additionally, changes in color are also a warning sign worth considering. 

Normal respiration rate for infants & children

The normal respiration rate for infants and children is important to be known so you can monitor and pay attention to the well-being of your child. As you know, this rate is higher in newborns and will eventually decrease over time. These rates are shown in the table below.

child asleep with teddybear
AgeRespiration rate
Newborn to 6 months30 to 60 breaths per minute
6 to 12 months24 to 30 breaths per minute
1 to 5 years20 to 30 breaths per minute
6 to 12 years12 to 20 breaths per minute
12 years and up12 to 20 breaths per minute

To measure your child’s breathing rate, pay attention to their chest. Count how many times their chest rises in one minute, and you can find out the rate. 

If the respiration rate is outside the ideal value, you might have to seek professional medical help. Contact the doctor and tell them about the symptoms that your child has been experiencing. A change in color is a serious warning sign, and you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. 

What is a dangerous heart rate for a child?

You will find out that the heart rate is always higher than the breathing rate. However, there are some things you should pay attention to and make sure that everything is normal. Measuring the heart rate is something you should do, especially in the first few months of your baby’s life.

There are four vital signs you should look for in your child, and they all tell you about their overall health condition. These signs are:

  • Blood pressure
  • Body temperature
  • Heart rate
  • Respiration rate

All these signs have specific values, and when they are nominal, there is nothing to worry about. The heart rate is also called a pulse and represents how many times your child’s heart beats every minute. When they are active and running around, it will be way higher than during sleep.

The normal heart rate for your child has been displayed in the table below. Depending on their age, these values will be different.

child asleep


AgeRespiration rate
1 to 12 months100 – 160 beats per minute
1 to 3 years90 – 150 beats per minute
3 to 5 years80 – 140 beats per minute
5 to 12 years70 – 120 beats per minute
12 to 18 years60 – 100 beats per minute

As you can see, the heart rate in infants is way higher than in teenagers. Suppose your little one has a heart rate outside the specified range. In that case, you should call a doctor immediately and seek professional medical advice. 

What oxygen level is too low for a child?

The oxygen saturation levels are the same for children and adults, which should be between 95 to 100 percent. Once these levels drop below 95%, they are considered abnormal, becoming a serious concern.

Once the oxygen levels drop to 80%, the brain will start to get affected, and the damage might be irreversible. But like with the breathing and heart rates, oxygen levels decrease as the newborn grows older. For example, older adults will have a much lower oxygen saturation when compared to children.

While people over 70 years old can consider the 95% level normal and average, children will be affected more if their oxygen levels drop below this value. One of the first symptoms of a low oxygen level is hypoxia, a serious cause of concern.

At this point, you must get your child to a hospital as soon as possible and have skilled medics diagnose and treat them. If you are still unsure about the normal oxygen levels of your child, contact your doctor and ask them for further advice. 

Danger signs of pneumonia in infants

Pneumonia is the medical word used to describe an acute respiratory infection of the lungs. Usually, no single cause leads to this health problem, as it can happen for various reasons. Pneumonia can develop from viruses, fungi in the air, or even bacteria. 

You will want to protect your child against such a health issue since their lungs will get filled with fluid and make it difficult for them to breathe. As your child grows older, their immune system develops and can handle pneumonia more easily. However, infants are more vulnerable to this condition, and you should apply all the necessary preventive measures.

Symptoms of pneumonia include coughing and trouble breathing. Additionally, you will notice a fever as well. When they have pneumonia, children will have an increased breathing level that can be on the upper limit of the indicated level for their age. 

Because pneumonia is contagious, this problem should not be overlooked. Seek the help of a doctor if you notice these symptoms in your baby, and make sure to allow the best treatment for them. 

Baby breathing sounds like phlegm.

When the baby makes various sounds you are not used to, it is normal to have a worrying reaction. After all, you should be very careful and receptive to these symptoms that are not recommended to be ignored. 

two children sleeping

Your baby’s lungs are sensitive, and the air might be too dry at first. Snorts and similar sounds will happen because babies breathe through their noses. If your baby cannot blow their nose, the mucus produced will go down the back of their throat. 

It causes several sounds that might be worrying once you hear them for the first time. But you should know that mucus can move further down the larynx and trachea, and this will generate the specific sound you are hearing. Additionally, a soft vibration can be felt if you place your hands on their chest. 

These sounds will be noticeable for several weeks, but it is not something to worry about in most cases. Some home remedies can accelerate the healing process, as your baby’s immune system still struggles because it’s at the beginning. However, follow a specialized medical treatment if you notice that the symptoms are worsening. 

Normal baby breathing vs. retractions

When they happen, retractions indicate that the body is having difficulty getting the oxygen it needs. It is commonly found in newborns, where retractions happen due to respiratory issues. The chest caves around the ribs, and you might get worried, especially if you’ve never dealt with this before.

Your baby’s body is trying to bring in more oxygen, which is why retractions happen. It is important to learn about this sign and how to spot it quickly in order to respond appropriately. Respiratory distress is never good, so you should seek professional help as soon as possible.

Home remedies are not recommended if you encounter such a situation. Your baby’s health is in your hands, and you are responsible for ensuring the best treatment for them. The right equipment can only be found in hospitals, and first responders will always have respiratory equipment on hand.

Ultimately, your mission is to spot the retractions as soon as they happen and take the necessary action. If your baby reaches low oxygen levels, several advanced problems can develop, so it is crucial to act on time. 

happy children


As you can see above, there are times for concenr.

  • Newborns generally not breathe more than 60 times per minute
  • 12 years and older shuold generally not breathe more than 20 times per minute.


Are 30 breaths a minute normal for a child?

When they are sleeping, 30 breaths per minute are normal for most children under 6 years old. After this age, 30 breaths per minute are outside the usual levels, and you should investigate further. Pay attention to any other signs and communicate them to your doctor when you seek medical assistance. 

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