Videos: Respiratory Distress & Retractions – Infant/Toddler

rowan ambulance retractions
Rowan’s trip to the ER via ambulance

I’ve had several people tell me that the videos I’ve shared of Rowan’s breathing when in respiratory distress have given them useful information to help them make informed choices for their own kids. This is especially true when it comes to “retractions.” Retractions are usually talked about when people seek advice about when to call the doctor but are difficult to describe with words.

If you want to know more about signs of respiratory distress, definitely go check out the post I wrote over on Pregnant Chicken – the first part is about RSV specifically, but the rest focuses on respiratory distress in infants.

I couldn’t fit all of my videos in that post, and I’ve gotten some more since then, so I wanted to put them all in one place.

These first videos are from when Rowan was about 8 months old and had RSV. You can see pretty clearly that he’s having trouble, but even so, I ended up sending this video to a friend who is a nurse. He said, “those are textbook retractions.” And then I took him to the doctor and they sent us to the ER. He ended up admitted for about a day.




This one is from a few days after he turned two years old. Thankfully, he did not have to be admitted this time.


The rest are from his most recent hospital admission when he was not quite two-and-a-half. Much like his first admission, we ended up going to the ER twice, and being admitted the second time.


There have been quite a few more doctor visits, urgent care trips, and even one ride to the hospital via ambulance, but I didn’t get videos of every time.

I hope that some of these videos will help you know what to look for when people talk about “retractions (and nasal flaring, grunting, wheezing, squeaking, etc). I’ve even referred back to them myself quite a few times, when I’m trying to decide if I need to call the doctor or not (protip: if I need to look at the video, I am almost always at the point where I need to take him in).

Hopefully, I won’t have any to add to this, but I wouldn’t hold my breath (pun intended).


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