Tidal volume (VT) measurements in newborn infants remain largely a research tool. Tidal ventilation and breathing pattern were measured using a new device, FloRight, which uses electromagnetic inductive plethysmography,and compared simultaneously with pneumotachography in 43 infants either receiving no respiratory support or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).Twenty-three infants were receiving CPAP (gestational age 28 ± 2 weeks, mean ± SD) and 20 were breathing spontaneously (gestational age 34 ± 4 weeks). The two methods were in reasonable agreement, with VT (r2 = 0.69) ranging from 5 to 23 ml (4–11 ml kg−1) with a mean difference of 0.4 ml and limit of agreement of −4.7 to + 5.5 ml. For respiratory rate, minute ventilation,peak flow and breathing pattern indices, the mean difference between the two methods ranged between 0.7% and 5.8%. The facemask increased the respiratory rate (P < 0.001) in both groups with the change in VT being more pronounced in the infants receiving no respiratory support. Thus, FloRight provides an easy to use technique to measure term and preterm infants in the clinical environment without altering the infant's breathing pattern.