Have you ever heard your little one snore or snort in their sleep? As a parent, it sounds absolutely adorable. But is snoring or mouth breathing normal or even okay for your baby?
Parents often think that snoring is an indicator that their baby is sleeping soundly. Even children’s books often illustrate a bunch of “zzzz” over someone’s head to indicate sleep. Snoring is associated with deep, relaxed, and content sleep.
So, is your baby’s snoring harmless?
If you do a short google search, you will quickly see that snoring and mouth breathing is actually signs that something isn’t quite right.
Benefits of Nose-Breathing over Mouth Breathing
If you’ve ever joined a yoga class or another exercise class, the instructor will actually tell you when and how to breathe properly. Deep breaths in and out of your nose.
Nose-breathing increases the amount of oxygen entering our lungs lowers the heart rate and increases lymphatic flow. With nose-breathing, nitric oxide is produced, which helps expand your blood vessels increasing blood flow. And one other major benefit – your nose is an amazing filter. Your nasal hair and mucous filter out the impurities in the air reducing chances of infection.
Health Symptoms associated with Mouth Breathing
Chronic mouth breathing can have long-term adverse effects.
- Facial and teeth development.
I recently met a dentist that has been doing research on the correlation between mouth-breathing and orthodontic care. Chronic mouth-breathing actually affects facial growth and teeth development. In his practice, along with teaching children how to brush, he teaches facial exercises to help prevent mouth-breathing or snoring. His referral rate to the orthodontist has drastically been reduced. Just think… no orthodontist costs!
- Quality of Sleep
A symptom closer to my heart and expertise is that snoring decreases the quality of sleep. As you probably already know, our sleep is cyclic – light sleep à deep sleep à deeper sleep à dreaming (REM) sleep. For adults, this cycle is roughly 90-110 minutes, but babies’ cycles are closer to 45 minutes, resulting in more frequent light sleep/REM stages.
During the light sleep and REM stages of sleep, we are more easily woken up. Noises, your partner rolling over, or a car horn causes you to immediately wake up during this period of your sleep cycle. For babies, this is often the time the mailman knocks on the door, the neighbor’s dog starting barking, or snort. All of these cause your baby to wake up and if it happens during nap time, it usually signifies the end of sleep time.
If you have read my other blog posts, you know about the benefits of a solid, consolidated sleep rather than disrupted sleep. So, if your baby is snoring, you should take action.
Causes of Snoring
- Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is when a baby’s airway is partially obstructed or obstructed to the point where they temporarily stop breathing. This causes your baby to startle themselves out of sleep. (And I’m sure we’re all happy for that little fail-safe!).
Congestion from a cold can cause temporary bouts of snoring. Usually, the snoring will disappear as he or she gets better. In the meantime, try using a nasal bulb to suck the ickiness out of their nose and then a saline solution to clear up the passageways.
- Enlarged adenoids or tonsils
Infected adenoids or tonsils can constrict and put pressure on the airways. Then, when the baby breathes, the air vibrates the neck tissues which causes snoring. Enlarged adenoids or tonsils can also cause sleep apnea. Visit your doctor, the infection may be easily cleared using antibiotics.
What to Do if your Baby is A Snorer?
Take action. A full night’s sleep without the interruption from snoring is worth it.
- Grab your phone and record your little one’s breathing and snoring.
- Play the recording for your pediatrician. Often baby snoring is not a huge concern for doctors, but if you have a recording of the severity, it will prompt them to refer you to a specialist.
- Surgery for removal of the tonsils and/or adenoids if they are the main cause. This is a common procedure, so don’t panic at the thought of surgery.
- Consider using nasal strips for those babies that don’t need surgery. I know these strips are not the most elegant, but the thin strip of metal can help pull open their nasal passageways.
Snoring is preventable and should be taken seriously. It seems innocent but can have serious consequences with respect to sleep and facial development. It probably ranks very low on your list of worries as a parent but stopping the snoring and assuring a consolidated sleep is extremely important for your little one’s growth.
If you have any questions, please feel free to schedule a time to chat.