Crying is really your infant’s only way of communicating with you, but a crying baby can cause a lot of stress for new parents.
Some parents swear that blowing gently into the baby’s face could help stop the baby from crying, at least long enough to try and assist the baby or accomplish a certain task. But is this behavior safe?
Is blowing in baby’s face okay? The best practice would be to abstain from this behavior unless recommended by a pediatrician. Gently blowing in your baby’s face may cause them to briefly hold their breath, which could be useful to stop crying, for washing their face, or when teaching them to swim, but more research is needed.
Many parent forums say that blowing in your baby’s face is perfectly fine. However, these are not necessarily sources of expert advice. Without more research showing facts one way or another, you could be doing more harm than good.
Blowing in Baby’s Face- What To Know
What does blowing in a baby’s face actually do? Why are many parents so fond of it?
The bradycardic reflex is a decrease in heart rate. This reflex can be triggered by blowing on your baby’s face and typically results in the baby temporarily holding their breath. Research suggests that this reflex is outgrown by about 6 months.
Is Blowing in a Baby’s Face Harmful?
Blowing in a baby’s face can cause them to stop breathing for a minute, triggering a bradycardic reflex that lowers their heart rate and also possibly reduces blood pressure.
Babies cry to let parents know that something is wrong. Our response to our baby alerting us that something is not right should be more comprehensive than merely blowing in their face, which lacks any scientific evidence as to its effectiveness.
Do Babies Like When You Blow in Their Face?
This depends on the situation and on your baby’s temperament. If a baby is wailing and in pain, blowing in their face could cause them to grow more agitated.
For other babies, gently blowing in the face could act as a calming mechanism. Forceful blowing into a baby’s face can trigger some reflexes that don’t really contribute to helping your baby.
When To Blow in Baby’s Face
Blowing in your baby’s face could help them stop crying for a moment. This blowing should be gentle and intended to calm them, not startle them.
Research suggests that blowing in your baby’s face might be the “path to swimming.” Survival swim courses have shown that blowing in your baby’s face and then putting them underwater helps them swim easier and with less distress.
Please note that you should never blow on the face of a baby who is choking! Choking babies could sputter and further lodge food in their throats if they are startled.
There are several appropriate responses when a baby is choking, but blowing on their face is not one of them.
Guidelines for Blowing in Baby’s Face To Stop Crying
First and foremost, blowing on a baby’s face to stop crying should be done gently. It should be an attempt to distract them so that you can get them to latch or wash their face in a bath without sucking up water.
It should not be done frequently or when frustrated. Also, as stated above, it should never be used when a baby is choking.
Additional Ways To Calm a Hysterical Baby
You want to determine if your baby is crying due to a medical or non-medical issue. Inspect your baby to see if something is too tight or if they need to be changed.
If your baby is rooting or turning their head into their parent’s chest, they are most likely hungry and need to be fed, which could calm them down.
Swaddling, cuddling, or a baby massage could all help calm a hysterical baby. If your baby is not hungry but finds the sucking reflex comforting, pacifiers can be very helpful.
What to Do When Baby Stops Breathing While Crying
Occasionally, a baby will cry so hard that they stop breathing. While this can certainly be scary for parents, doctors do not always become alarmed by this behavior.
“Breath-holding spells” can occur in kids 6 months to 6 years old. These children are healthy despite these episodes. Doctors stress that this isn’t something they do on purpose and this condition can run in families.
If your baby is in the middle of a breath-holding spell, lay them on a flat surface, such as a crib or the floor. Be sure your baby is not close to any sharp objects or something dangerous. Stay with your baby until the spell passes.
Should your baby pass out, try to stay calm, as hard as that may be. Make sure that your baby doesn’t have anything in their mouth that could cause them to choke.
If your baby has not breathed in over one minute or their face is turning blue, call 911 immediately.
Why Do Babies Hold Their Breath?
Most often, babies hold their breath as a sign of frustration or anger. Other causes could be because the baby is in pain or has been startled, causing them to hold their breath.
Can I Blow in My Baby’s Mouth?
There are not many reasons for blowing in your baby’s mouth. Some mothers swear by the “mother’s kiss” in which they blow in their baby’s mouth to dislodge something in the baby’s nose.
Blowing air into a baby’s mouth is also a part of CPR and life-saving measures. These two scenarios would be the only real reasons for blowing in your baby’s mouth.
Being a parent means that we are sensitive to our baby’s crying. Our baby’s distress can lead to our own. There are several ways to help calm a hysterical baby. Several are listed above.
Blowing gently in your baby’s face might help them calm down momentarily, but it should be used with caution and only done infrequently.
The reason to use caution with this behavior is that it’s fairly under-researched and could cause more harm than good to an upset baby.
Calming measures that are effective and proven to be safe should be what parents want and use to soothe their babies.
As a twin mom herself, Nikki is passionate about helping moms and twin parents learn how to manage their chaos better. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) practicing Marriage and Family Therapy.