Babies Snoring and Mouth-Breathing
Chronic Mouth Breathing versus Nose Breathing
I used to think that snoring babies were absolutely adorable. Unfortunately, that sense of peace and serenity I used to get at the sound of a snoring baby turned out to be misconstrued. Now that I’m a sleep expert, I know that snoring and mouth breathing are both cause for concern.
Breathing through your nose increases the amount of oxygen we get to our lungs, expels more carbon dioxide, lowers our heart rate, increases lymphatic flow, and reduces stress on the heart. It also produces nitric oxide, which helps expand blood vessels and increases blood flow, and all the hairs and mucous in the sinuses help to filter out impurities from the air.
Mouth breathing, on the other hand, has longterm side effects. Chronic mouth breathing in children can actually affect their facial growth, impact their dental development, cause gum disease, throat infections, stunted growth, and a little closer to my heart, lack of quality sleep.
Reduced Quality of Sleep While Snoring or Mouth Breathing
Lack of air moving through the nose and mouth during sleep causes snoring. This often happens when the airway narrows because soft tissue abnormalities in the throat or awkward sleeping positions. But when it comes to children, snoring may be caused by other reasons such as:
Enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
Transient snoring from allergies or colds are not typically a cause for worry, but persistent snoring could point to a more serious underlying conditions such as sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that results in a pause in breathing. Restless overnight sleep, chronic mouth breathing during sleep and snoring are possible signs of sleep apnea. While affected children may “grow out of” this sleep disorder, there is growing evidence that suggests that children left untreated can burden them until it is fully resolved.
A child who chronically snores isn’t always cause for alarm, nor does it definitively lead to sleep apnea. But talking to your family physician to rule out any hidden issues can uncover the truth about what is really affecting your child's sleep quality.
“How do I stop my child from snoring?”
The first thing you should do is take a recording of your little one breathing while they sleep using your phone. The second step is to take that recording to your pediatrician and play it for them. Just going to the doctor and telling them your baby’s snoring might not spark a lot of concern on their part, but being able to demonstrate the severity of the issue can light a little fire under their butts and
Typically, removal of the tonsils and/or adenoids is often the next step if their airways are significantly blocked. Don’t panic though. The process isn’t nearly as intense as it might sound and is performed over half a million times a year in the US alone.
If your little one’s snoring isn’t severe enough to warrant surgery, ask your doctor if your child would benefit (age dependent) from some nasal strips. They’re thin strips of metal in a cotton sheath with adhesive on the back that stick to the outside of the nose and gently pull open the nasal passageways. It’s not the most elegant solution, but it does solve the problem temporarily.
Just a final note, if your baby is sick or congested, don’t jump to the conclusion that their snoring is permanent. A little nasal congestion due to illness can cause baby to snore, but it should clear up when they get better. Try using a nasal bulb to suck the ickiness out of their nose and then a saline solution to clear up the passageways.
I know that, as mothers, we’ve got plenty to worry about without throwing unnecessary concern into the mix, but if your baby’s snoring, it can have some serious consequences, and you should take it seriously. It’s preventable and a better night’s sleep is waiting on the other side of the solution for your baby as well as the rest of your family.
If you are struggling with sleep in your home remember, join me on Instagram. Plus, download my free 5-Step Sleep Solution and learn what I do as your sleep coach and how working with me can help you, if that’s the right choice for your family.