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Asthma is a chronic disease that causes the airways to be inflamed (swollen). Some of the most common symptoms include trouble breathing, coughing, and wheezing. But in infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children, asthma can look a bit different.

If you have a little one with asthma, it’s important to know what to look for. The signs of asthma in a baby or toddler include:

  • Fast breathing
  • Working harder to breathe (nostrils flaring, skin is sucking in around and between ribs or above the sternum, or exaggerated belly movement)
  • Panting with normal activities such as playing
  • Wheezing (a whistling sound)
  • Persistent coughing
  • Difficulty sucking or eating
  • Tiredness, not interested in normal or favorite activities
  • Cyanosis, a tissue color change on mucus membranes (tongue, lips, and around the eyes) and fingertips or nail beds − the color appears grayish or whitish on darker skin tones and bluish on lighter skin tones

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has a resource to help you understand asthma in infants and young children. Visit our webpage to learn more about:

  • Common signs and symptoms of asthma in infants and young children
  • Signs and symptoms of an asthma episode or attack and what to do in an asthma emergency
  • Differences between asthma in infants and toddlers compared to older children and adults
  • Other conditions that may have symptoms like asthma
  • Diagnosis and treatment
  • Managing your child’s asthma
  • If a child can outgrow asthma

It is important to stay up to date on news about asthma and allergies. By joining our community and following our blog, you will receive news about research and treatments. Our community also provides an opportunity to connect with other patients who manage these conditions for support.

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Medical Review: Content summarized from aafa.org/asthma-in-infants last reviewed December 2021 by Michael Pistiner, MD, MMSc, and Mitchell Grayson, MD

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