Why Do Babies Sleep With Their Mouths Open
Ever wondered, “why my baby sleeps with his mouth open?” Although breathing seems simple, it can sometimes be a bit more complicated.
When a baby sleeps with mouth open, it can either be because of upper airway obstruction or the baby might’ve gotten in the habit of breathing through their mouth. Keep reading to know what your baby’s reason is.
Why Baby Sleeps With Mouth Open
Some babies tend to breathe through their mouths when asleep. Although the reason might be temporary, it can also be a red flag to look out for. Following are some reasons why a baby sleeps with mouth open.
Babies breathing through their mouth might be out of necessity when their nose gets blocked with mucus accumulation. The mucus congestion could be because of a cold or allergic reaction to something present in the environment. And since babies can’t get rid of the mucus on their own, they compensate for it by breathing through the mouth.
Sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing disorder in which brief pauses occur in the child’s breathing pattern due to intermittent upper airway obstruction during sleep. And according to the 2010 Brazilian journal of otorhinolaryngology, snoring and sleep apnea are commonly seen in mouth-breathing children.
When the nasal septum is off-centre or leans to one side of the nasal cavity, it has “deviated.” One of the symptoms of a deviated septum is difficulty breathing through the nose, causing the baby to breathe from the mouth. The newborn sleeping with mouth open can be because of the deviation, since it may be present at birth, caused by an injury, or result from damage from previous medical treatments.
As mentioned before, because of a cold or allergic reaction to something present in the environment, children can develop nasal congestion, which can cause the baby to sleep with their mouths open.
Whether a newborn sleeping with their mouth open or a 7-month baby sleeps with their mouth open or older ones, it just is habitual since some babies may get in the habit of breathing through their mouths.
Sometimes a baby sleeps with mouth open tongue-tied. A tongue tie is when the strip of skin connecting the baby’s tongue to the bottom of their mouth is shorter than usual. Tongue tie is developed from birth and prevents the tongue from reaching the upper palate resulting in mouth breathing.
Besides the aforementioned, there are other reasons why baby sleeps with their mouth open. The baby might be breathing through the mouth because of an obstruction in the back of the nose where the air passage turns down to the throat, known as choanal atresia.
Is It Normal for a Baby to Sleep With the Mouth Open
There are primarily two reasons why baby sleeps with mouth open. One is due to upper airway obstruction, that is, in the nasal cavity, which can be because of a cold or allergic reaction. Or a sleep-related breathing disorder known as Sleep apnea.
The second reason is that it can be habitual. Babies may get in the habit of breathing through their mouths after sickness or for other reasons. However, is it normal for a baby to sleep with the mouth open?
Newborns are obligate nasal breathers, which means newborn babies breathe through their noses as a natural reflex. And it is not normal for the baby to sleep with its mouth open.
Effects of Infant Sleeping With an Open Mouth
Following are some symptoms and effects of infants sleeping with an open mouth.
Dehydrated Lips and Mouth
Replacing the nasal breathing pattern with an oral can influence dehydrated lips and mouth.
Mouth breathing bypasses the protective function of the nose, and the mouth is not equipped with the said function. And breathing through the mouth can cause allergens to go into the lungs and aggravate the risk of asthma.
Mouth breathing is often accompanied by habitual tongue thrusting, which can create an oral seal. It can affect oral health and function like weakening the tongue and mouth muscles, inability to chew food, speech disorders, irregular mouth posture, and crooked teeth.
Changes in Facial Features
Mouth-breathing children deserve prompt attention since it can interfere with the development of the facial muscles, jaw muscles, and mouth and can lead to structural changes in the face.
Irregular Sleep Patterns and Behaviour Disorders
According to the 2021 International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry, babies with irregular sleep patterns, hyperactivity, and attention deficit leading to behavioural needs often showed signs of open-mouth breathing.
Change in Body Posture
As mentioned before, mouth breathing can lead to changes in structural growth. It can cause postural abnormalities involving the head and cervical spine.
How Can I Stop My Baby From Mouth Breathing While Sleeping
If the baby sleeps with mouth open, then there are a few things you could try yourself to help them breathe correctly.
A humidifier could surge the moisture content in the air, help relieve a stuffy nose, and help break up mucus in the airway.
Saline water or salt water can help nasal passages open by clearing out thick or dried mucus and help relieve symptoms of allergies, sinus infections, or colds.
Drink Lots of Fluids
Scientists advise increasing fluid intake for treating acute respiratory infections. Therefore, ensure the baby is constantly breastfed or with formula milk. As staying hydrated can also help clear nasal congestion.
As mentioned before, babies can’t get rid of the mucus on their own. Therefore, use saline water to thin the mucus and then use a bulb syringe to suck it out.
It’s natural to keep the baby’s surroundings clean. However, when the baby is sick or congested, take extra care of the surroundings, and vacuum the room regularly.
When to See a Doctor
If the baby sleeps with mouth open, it could be because of a stuffy nose, which can be treated by incorporating the above home remedial solutions. However, if you still notice the baby sleeps with mouth open, set up an appointment with your paediatrician.
Newborns breathe through their noses as a natural reflex. However, some babies tend to breathe through their mouths, and there are primarily two reasons for them to do so: upper airway obstruction or it could be habitual.
If the baby sleeps with mouth open because of congestion, then employ the aforementioned tips to relieve their congestion. And if you still notice them sleeping with their mouths open, then make sure to visit your paediatrician. Also, ensure that the baby’s surroundings are clean and dust free to avoid allergies.
Is it OK for a baby to sleep with its mouth open?
It’s most likely not a problem if a newborn occasionally or briefly sleeps with its mouth open. But over time, babies who sleep with their mouths open are more prone to experience various issues. Baby mouth breathing is regarded as a breathing issue, according to experts.
Why is my baby keeping his mouth open?
If your baby’s nose is congested or mucus-clogged, they may be forced to breathe via their mouth. They can be allergic to something in their environment or have recently had a cold. In any case, because babies find it difficult to discharge mucus on their own quickly, they may make up for it by mouth breathing.
Why do babies make an O shape with their mouths?
Wide open eyes and small, round lips are common expressions on the faces of happy infants who want to play with their parents. They might even utter a sound or two, clap, or wave their hands.
Is it normal for babies to breathe?
A newborn typically breathes between 40 and 60 times per minute. When the baby is sleeping, this may decrease to 30 to 40 times per minute. The breathing pattern of a baby may also differ. A newborn may take multiple rapid breaths, rest for fewer than ten seconds, and then take several more rapid breaths.
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