Is it safe for my baby to sleep with an open mouth?
Many parents are thankful if their baby gets any sleep at all, but it’s important to properly monitor your baby’s sleeping habits to make sure they’re sleeping healthily. When parents see that baby sleeps with mouth open, this may seem like a cute habit, but it should be a cause for alarm.
Wondering if you should be worried when baby sleeps with mouth open? The answer is yes. Experts warn that mouth breathing is considered to be a breathing disorder. This habit isn’t natural or cute.
This abnormal breathing pattern can seriously affect a child’s health and has serious consequences.
If you notice your baby sleeps with mouth open, it’s important to visit a doctor to discuss this with them.
What Happens When Baby Sleeps with Mouth Open
When baby sleeps with mouth open, a few key things may happen. The following list reveals what changes children will experience if they sleep with their mouth open:
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1. Dry Lips and Mouth
Dry lips and mouth are the most obvious signs for mouth breathers. If your baby has a dry mouth and dry lips, this is a sign that baby sleeps with their mouth open. As breathing through one’s mouth will reduce saliva production, babies that breathe through their mouths are in danger of compromising their dental health and oral hygiene.
2. Worsened Asthma
Asthma can become a concern if baby sleeps with mouth open. Chronic mouth breathers aren’t taking advantage of their nostril’s filter system to help filter out allergens, pollutants, and irritants. By breathing through their mouth, babies are automatically breathing in these contaminants, putting them further at risk for asthma attacks.
3. Tongue Thrusting
While tongue thrusting isn’t exactly as big of an issue for newborns as they have no teeth, sleeping with their mouth open sets children up for this tongue-thrusting habit. With this habit, the tongue starts moving forward to create an airway. This leads to an abnormal thrust swallow that leads to speech disorders, an abnormal mouth posture, and protruding front teeth.
3. Teeth Changes
As the tongue thrusts, the palate will change. The tongue will thrust forward in a downward position, putting constant pressure on baby’s jawbone. This will affect the jaw development of the mouth and can change the palate forever.
Additionally, babies that are developing a tongue thrust habit don’t benefit from the pressure against their upper palate. As normal swallowing will stimulate the expansion and growth of the roof of their mouth, tongue thrusting, these bone cells will not develop. If this issue isn’t corrected earlier on, baby will grow up with a palate that isn’t properly formed.
4. Long, Narrow Face
Other studies show that open mouth breathing can lead to a narrow face. As the development of the mouth and jaw are affected by tongue thrusting, a long and narrow face is typically a side effect for mouth breathers.
5. Posture Changes
Mouth breathers tend to tilt their head as a way to breathe better. Though this position maximizes the air intake, it forces the pelvis, back, shoulders, and neck to realign. When mouth breathing turns into a habit, this results in significant postural changes. When baby sleeps with mouth open, they are at risk of developing poor posture.
6. Poor Sleep Quality
Newborns need their sleep desperately at this age. If baby sleeps with mouth open, it’s likely that they aren’t getting the best quality of sleep. Mouth breathing leads to less oxygen in one’s bloodstream and oxygen. These lower oxygen levels lead to the brain staying in an aroused state during sleep rather than allowing the baby to fall into restorative sleep. Without quality sleep, the baby will experience a negative effect on their performance, growth, concentration, behavior, and development.
7. Behavior Changes
Children that are thought to have ADD or hyperactivity often have a sleep disorder. In many cases, these children start out as mouth breathers. This sleeping disorder is often misdiagnosed as ADD.
8. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that results in open-mouthed breathing. This condition occurs when the tongue, soft palate, tonsils, and adenoids are in the way. If you notice that the baby is snoring, grinding their teeth, or are especially cranky, it’s likely that they are experiencing sleep apnea.
Why Baby Sleeps with Mouth Open
While sleeping with their mouth open isn’t natural, many babies do sleep with their mouth open. What makes some babies sleep with their mouth open and others breathe through their nose? The following information explains why baby sleeps with mouth open:
- Newborns breathe with their mouth when there is something interrupting them from breathing through their nose. This difficulty in breathing may occur in newborns that have colds.
- Newborns may breathe through their mouth if they breathe through their mouth in the womb. This situation is likely caused by mucus blockage in the womb. These babies often continue with their mouth-breathing until this mucus is cleared out.It often takes a while for this mucus to clear out, which is why newborns may continue to breathe through their mouth.
- Allergies are another common reason babies breathe through their mouth. Newborns often sleep with their mouth open if they are experiencing severe or chronic congestion.
- A deviated septum is another reason that some babies may sleep with their mouth open. This deviated septum occurs when the cartilage and bone in the nose collapses.As a result, the newborn may have trouble breathing through their nose. In this situation, a baby will often use their mouth to breathe.
- Newborns that are tongue-tied are often unable to touch their tongue to the roof of their mouth. This abnormality will likely result in mouth breathing and difficulty in feeding.
- Babies often start breathing through their mouth if they suck their thumbs or have continuous pacifier usage.
Strategies for Parents of Mouth Breathing Newborns
If your baby breathes through their mouth, there’s something you can do to help fix this habit.
- Make sure your newborn is breathing comfortably with their nose. In the event that they have a stuffy nose or cold, give them a remedy that will heal their blocked nose immediately.
- Pay attention to your child’s potential allergies. These allergies can force babies to use their mouth to breathe. To avoid triggering this habit, stay away from these allergens.
- Monitor this mouth-breathing habit. If it’s impossible to identify a breathing problem, a parent should close the baby’s mouth. Do this by gently pushing the chin upward closer to the mouth. This will help to prevent baby from developing the bad habit of breathing through their mouth.
- Consult with a doctor. As soon as you notice your baby is breathing through their mouth it’s important to make an appointment with a professional who studies babies’ sleeping patterns.Doctors will be able to better provide you with the best strategies to get your baby to stop mouth breathing.
- Use a humidifier. If your baby is currently mouth breathing, putting a humidifier in their room will help prevent them from drying their mouth out.
- Introduce new scents to help the baby develop a sense of smell. Whether you use certain candles or soaps, having various scents around the baby will help them use their nose more readily.
- Elevate your baby’s head as they sleep. By slightly shifting your baby’s head, you’ll be able to solve slight issues with your newborn’s breathing or similar issues.
Benefits of Breathing Through the Nose
Hopefully, all your best efforts and the medical attention from specialty doctors will help to encourage your baby to breathe through their mouth. Breathing through the nose is an important habit your baby should develop as soon as possible for the following reasons:
- Nasal breathing will increase the oxygen absorption in the lungs.
- Breathing through the nose helps to cleanse harmful impurities and microbes from the air.
- Increased oxygen in the body helps improve vitality and energy.
- Inhaling air through the nose will make it moist and warm, helping to prevent irritation in the airways.
- Breathing through the nose improves one’s sense of smell.
- Nasal breathing gives a pressure difference in the nose and lungs. This guarantees that air is flowing to the lungs and the heart.
While it may not be obvious with a newborn, breathing through the mouth can have a serious and lifelong impact on your child. If you see that baby sleeps with mouth open, it’s time to take action. By speaking with a doctor, you’ll be able to get ahead of any potential health problems that breathing through the mouth can cause.