Not many views top the heartwarming sight of a sleeping baby. Their pudgy cheeks, soft skin, and angelic faces draw us in as they gently breathe in and out. While most of us adore this sight, there are times when a sleeping baby doesn’t appear as peaceful as we’d like. This is the case with infant snoring.
Snoring can happen for lots of reasons, and chances are your baby is healthy. The majority of infant snoring episodes happen because the air passageways of infants are narrow. The deep breathing associated with sleep moves air in and out, causing the narrow passageways to vibrate or rattle.
As your baby grows, these narrow passageways will expand, and decrease the vibrations during sleep.
If you’re concerned with helping your baby in the meantime, consider your baby’s head position during sleep. Tilting the head to the side can reduce the vibration in the throat, cutting down on snores. While experts agree that keeping baby on their back during sleep is the safest position, tilting the head to the side can improve air flow.
Another common culprit of infant snoring is mucus obstruction in the air passageways. A cold virus or allergies typically cause this. If your baby is stuffy, or congested, you likely know this already.
While babies can’t have any decongestant, there are natural ways to relieve a baby’s stuffy nose.
Humidifying the air where your baby sleeps is a simple method of helping your baby breathe easier and reduce snoring. A warm mist humidifier will thin and loosen the mucus in baby’s air passageways, allowing it to drain.
Another option is enclosing you and your baby in the room with a hot, steamy shower. The steam will work to thin mucus the same way the warm mist humidifier does.
Using a gentle saline wash in the nose can help loosen mucus and wash it away. One to two drops per nostril is ideal. Once the mucus is loosened, use a nasal aspirator to remove it from the nose. You can also try a salt machine which filters the air and dispenses salt particles to slowly and gently break up mucus.
Removing common allergens from the room can help a baby who suffers from allergies. Keep the room vacuumed and dusted to cut back on dust. If you have pets and you suspect an allergy to animal dander, keep your pets out of baby’s room.
There are a few health conditions that can cause a baby to snore. These conditions may come with other symptoms, including weight loss or a failure to thrive. While they’re very uncommon, your baby’s pediatrician can help to identify them.
Food sensitivities such as an allergy to cow’s milk protein affect a small percentage of infants. This sensitivity can cause several symptoms including rashes, abdominal pains, and gastrointestinal issues. It can also disrupt sleep patterns. Removing cow’s milk protein from your baby’s diet will usually take care of the problem.
Most babies have occasional bouts of reflux and spitting up. A baby with acid reflux will spit up or vomit frequently. This reflux prevents babies from getting proper nutrition and disrupts their growth. The acid can irritate the throat and sinus passages, and cause snoring and other sleep issues. If acid reflux is the culprit behind your baby’s snoring, your pediatrician can create a treatment plan to help.
A deviated septum refers to a nasal septum that has developed with an imbalance. The imbalance partially blocks one passageway, causing the baby to make up for it by passing more air through the other passageway. This can cause snoring, or noisy breathing.
Laryngomalacia is a condition where cartilage in the air passages hasn’t fully developed. This cartilage is responsible for keeping the air passageway open.
Sleep Apnea is a disorder that causes brief pauses in breathing during sleep cycles. It is usually caused by developmental issues, especially in premature babies. It can also be triggered by an underlying medical condition such as a structural abnormality.
These abnormalities can include conditions in the throat, nose, or air passageways. Obstructions, cysts, or abnormal air movements are all possibilities.
If your pediatrician identifies any of these issues, she can refer you to a specialist for further evaluation, most commonly a sleep doctor, an ENT or a pulmonologist. The specialist will evaluate your baby and determine whether they need any treatment or intervention for their condition.
Many babies snore, especially in their infant months. As they grow, the snoring disappears. However, if you’re concerned, it is always wise to speak with your pediatrician.