While it’s adorable to watch your adorable baby sleep, if their mouth is open, it might be wise to take a closer look. Mouth breathing in infants may be a sign of certain medical conditions, such as sleep apnea. Your baby’s pediatrician should be informed if your infant frequently sleeps with their mouth open.
Learn more about the causes of your baby’s mouth opening while they sleep, what you can do to help, and when to call your pediatrician.
What Causes Mouth Breathing In Babies?
A baby may breathe through their mouth while sleeping for a number of different reasons. Some are transient causes that do not cause concern, whereas, with other causes, you should follow up with your pediatrician.
Infants do not typically breathe through their mouths while they are sleeping. Due to their developing facial anatomy, newborn babies are more likely to wake up if their nose is blocked than to begin breathing through their mouth.
First of all, if your child has a stuffy nose as a result of a cold or allergies, he or she will have no choice but to breathe through the mouth until the nose opens back up. Once the congestion subsides, a baby will typically return to sleeping with its mouth closed. After a cold, mouth breathing can develop into a habit.
The condition known as sleep apnea, in which the upper airway is blocked, is another cause of mouth breathing. In addition to snoring, breathing pauses while sleeping, and restless sleep, mouth breathing is one symptom of sleep apnea. While adults with sleep apnea typically experience daytime fatigue and weight gain, children with the condition more frequently exhibit behavioral issues and develop enlarged tonsils or adenoids. The tonsils or adenoids may also be enlarged and be the source of sleep apnea.
Obesity, Down syndrome, abnormalities in the skull or face, cerebral palsy, sickle cell disease, neuromuscular disease, a history of low birth weight, and a family history of obstructive sleep apnea are risk factors for pediatric obstructive sleep apnea.
A deviated septum, an anomaly in the bone and cartilage that divides the nostrils, may have also been present when your child was born. This may make it difficult to breathe through the nose while you’re asleep.
Why Baby Sleeps With Mouth Open
It’s crucial to watch your baby closely and look for warning signs if you notice your infant sleeping with their mouth open. As we’ve established, it’s unusual for babies to breathe through their mouths while they sleep, so the cause is usually a medical condition.
Babies frequently breathe through their mouths due to allergies. Early-onset allergies can cause a baby to produce more mucus than usual, which can obstruct their airways. To make it simpler for them to breathe while having mucus in their throats, they might sleep with their heads tilted back and their mouths open.
If they are suffering from severe or ongoing congestion, newborns frequently sleep with their mouths open. Mucus buildup can block the nose, causing the person to have to breathe through their mouth. When the air is dry in the nostrils during the summer, this can occur. It may also happen as a result of a disease or allergy.
If your baby’s nose isn’t blocked and they don’t sound congested or have any obvious leaks, it can be difficult to tell. However, because a baby’s nostrils are so small, even a tiny amount of mucus can block them.
A common cold can also lead to an increase in mucus buildup in your baby’s airway passages, making breathing more challenging. Additionally, it might cause a stuffy nose. Try suctioning your baby’s nose to see if that solves the issue if you believe their mouth breathing is caused by a cold.
Your infant’s airway may become blocked by enlarged tonsils or adenoids, which can cause sleep apnea. Your baby may snore and stop breathing while they sleep if they have sleep apnea. The majority of the time, they’ll begin breathing normally again, but occasionally, it’ll be fatal. Other sleep apnea symptoms include:
- restless sleep
- sleep terrors
- consistently tired despite getting adequate sleep
Consult your pediatrician if you have any doubts about whether your infant has sleep apnea. This condition is rare in newborns, but it’s always better to be safe
Some infants with deviated septa, in which the cartilage and bone in the nose are compressed or malformed, have trouble breathing through their noses. A baby will frequently breathe through their mouth in this circumstance. Some infants may be born with a deviated septum as a result of this development of the septum during the fetal stage.
Tongue-tied newborns frequently have a limited range of motion, which makes sucking and suctioning difficult because they can’t touch their tongue to the roof of their mouth. When breathing through the nose, a normal tongue typically remains suctioned to the roof of the mouth; without suction, the mouth opens. This anomaly not only causes mouth breathing while sleeping but also makes it difficult to breastfeed. The tongue may occasionally fall back into the airway, obstructing it entirely or in part.
If your baby’s nose is congested or mucus-clogged, they may have to breathe through their mouth. They might be allergic to something in their environment or have recently had a cold.
Baby mouth breathing may be a way for them to compensate for their inability to easily clear mucus on their own.
Is It Dangerous For My Baby To Mouth Breathe?
We all use our mouths to breathe once in a while. However, you don’t want it to become a habit, especially for your child.
Your girl may be in danger of developing health problems if you consistently find drool on her pillow. Let’s go over the risks of mouth breathing for your cherished sleeper from head to toe.
The nose turns out to be a pretty good air filter! Cilia, or your baby’s tiny nose hairs, prevent bacteria and other foreign objects from getting into their lungs and endangering their wellbeing.
Although the mouth is capable of performing that function, it has limited long-term filtering capacity. This implies that more bacteria will gradually enter your baby’s lungs while they sleep. Additionally, while your baby sleeps, more bacteria will accumulate inside his or her mouth.
Excess bacteria in the mouth can lead to unhealthy oral conditions like:
- Swollen tonsils or tonsillitis
- Gingivitis (gum infection)
- Tongue inflammation
- Dry mouth
- cavities, erosion, etc.) in the teeth)
Long Face Syndrome & Growth Abnormalities
Your baby’s adorable face is the sweetest thing ever. She may lose her unique facial structure if she consistently breathes through her mouth, which is unfortunate.
Over time, the muscles and ligaments in the face are stretched by constant mouth breathing. This can eventually lead to a developmental condition called Long Face Syndrome, with symptoms like:
- Open bite or tongue thrusting
- Large chin
- Elongated face shape
- Gummy smile
- Speech problems
Reduced Oxygen Intake
mouth breathing and nasal breathing have significant differences? Oxygen saturation.
Mouth breathing is less efficient than nasal breathing in terms of airstream intake and nitric acid levels, both of which are necessary for your body to absorb oxygen. Therefore, compared to nasal breathers, mouth breathers have lower oxygen saturation. Over time, this can lead to oxygen-related issues like:
- Reduced heart performance
- High blood pressure
- Reduced sleep quality
- Shortness of breath
What You Can Do To Help If Baby Sleeps With Mouth Open
It’s crucial to consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns or have noticed your baby frequently mouth-breathing while dozing. If mouth breathing is being caused by a minor inconvenience, such as having too much mucus, you should find a temporary fix right away to avoid developing a bad habit and creating further issues. Your baby will breathe easier and sleep deeper if you use the following simple remedies.
Use A Humidifier
Mucus production is known to be increased in dry air. We can all experience this, but since babies have such small airways, even a slight increase can result in serious issues. Increase the humidity in the air by using a humidifier to lessen the amount of mucus they produce.
Suction It Out
You get to do their nose-blowing and coughing because babies don’t yet know how to do those things for themselves. A baby’s mouth or nose can be suctioned to help remove extra mucus that is obstructing their ability to breathe. Just be careful not to overdo it. When unnecessary, excessive suction can actually make the body produce more mucus. To remove the mucus, use a nasal syringe, and then stop.
Use An Air Filter
Poor air quality is one of the most frequent reasons for extra snot. It’s possible that airborne allergens are irritating your baby’s allergies and making him or her produce more mucus. The air quality will be immediately improved, and mucus production may be reduced.
Remove Allergens If Possible
To get pet dander out of the house if you have pets, clean and vacuum frequently. If necessary, smoke outside, but don’t forget to open the windows to let some fresh air in. A little bit of regular cleaning can go a long way.
Give Your Newborn A Warm Bath
Baths can instantly ease fussiness in your baby if they like them or find them relaxing. They may feel calmer and less stuffy as a result of the warm water’s ability to thin out mucus and facilitate easier drainage.
Use Saline Drops
The use of saline drops is simple and very successful. Saline drops can be used to thin mucus in babies whose production is too thick for proper drainage. The snot will drain more easily if you put a few drops inside their nose. Your baby will be able to breathe much easier, but you’ll probably end up wiping their nose every few minutes. Just as instructed, use saline drops.
Your baby may have trouble breathing if there is even a small amount of mucus in its nose. One of those fancy snot suckers, like the NoseFrida, or a simple bulb syringe can be used to remove it. Avoid damaging your child’s nose by being gentle. To avoid the growth of harmful bacteria, clean your syringe after each use.
Before sucking out the mucus, a few sprays of a saline solution (salt water) may help thin and loosen the mucus. You might even experiment with a neti pot or saline rinse as your baby gets a little older. Simply make sure to boil tap water, let it cool, or use distilled water for safety.
To prevent dehydration and maintain the flow of mucus, make sure your infant is drinking plenty of breast milk or formula.
When To See A Doctor
Call 911 or take your baby to the emergency room right away if you see that they are choking, having trouble breathing, or are otherwise showing signs of being blue or purple. These are indications that your child is not breathing or is breathing only very laboriously.
An occasional gaping mouth, while you’re asleep, is typically an indication of congestion. Your pediatrician should be consulted if you’ve tried the aforementioned solutions and your child’s mouth is still open while they’re sleeping.
In some cases, enlarged tonsils and adenoids may be infected and not respond to home remedies. Others may simply have larger ones due to genetics. For more serious conditions, your doctor might advise testing, sleep studies, or surgery.
Try to avoid becoming overly anxious or panicked as a parent, and instead, pay attention. Pay close attention to the warning signs, use over-the-counter remedies to help with congestion if necessary, and be sure to call your child’s pediatrician with any queries or worries.
Close Note: Pay More Attention!
Yes, it’s adorable, but your baby’s mouth breathing while they sleep could also be a serious health indicator.
If your baby is just congested, there are many things you can do to make breathing easier for them. It may be worthwhile to discuss the matter with your child’s pediatrician or a dental health expert if it persists.
You can both sleep much better at night once you’ve taken care of any obstructions or other issues.