Although the phrase ‘sleeping like a baby’ has been commonly used to mean that someone is sleeping well and peacefully, this may be a bit off. Sure, babies sleep a lot, but anyone who has one knows that they don’t always sleep quietly. Many babies are restless in their sleep. Moving and making grunts or noises during sleep is not at all uncommon for a baby. But every concerned parent wants to make sure that what their baby is doing is ‘normal’. Before getting into a panic that your baby is snoring loudly, let’s look into the connection between snoring and babies.
Is Snoring Normal for Babies?
While many children will snore on occasion due to a stuffy nose, cold, allergies, or other reasons, chronic snoring in babies is not considered to be typical. Newborns and babies can certainly be noisy sleepers, and as you stare at them you might become concerned about every little snort and sniff. Let’s take a look at what is considered to be normal for snoring in babies and what should lead a parent to discover if this is a deeper problem.
Newborn babies do tend to breathe noisily during their sleep as their airways can be filled with secretions are often very narrow. On the other hand, very loud snoring could be an indication that your baby could use some help with clearing our breathing passages. Most likely this can be handled from home, but it is always a good idea to check with your doctor just be safe.
If your baby exhibits signs of being unable to breathe during sleep, or there seems to be some sort of obstruction, be sure to contact a medical professional to get the best possible care.
What Causes Snoring in Babies?
Allergies or Asthma. Newly arrived little people can take some time to get adjusted to various aspects of the environment. Allergies to dust particles, dander, chemicals, and other triggers may produce inflammation and a reaction that causes resistance in breathing. Taking care to use chemical free laundry detergents, eliminate the use of household fragrances, and keeping your new baby away from pets can help to reduce allergy exposure and eliminate snoring. If your baby has asthma, your pediatrician will help you determine the best form of management to reduce snoring and restore sleep breathing.
Nasal Secretions. Babies are actually filled with snot! Really. Their little noses are highly sensitive and produce secretions in an active manner which can cause their airways to become clogged. Where an adult would simply blow their nose, a baby gets clogged. Check with your doctor about using a saline nasal spray from a pharmacy to help relieve the stuffiness. A nasal aspirator can also allow you to remove some of the nasal secretions, thus opening up the nasal passages and allowing for quieter breathing during sleep and less snoring sounds.
Deviated Septum. The nasal septum is made up of the cartilage/bone that divides the two sides of the nose. If it sits to one side, this can cause difficulty during breathing that creates vibrations and becomes noisy snoring. If this is a concern for your baby, report breathing problems so that your pediatrician can examine your baby and refer you to a specialist if needed.
Laryngomalacia. This is a huge word that sounds scary but really isn’t. Babies who have this condition have noisy breathing because the cartilage in their airways has not quite developed. This condition usually subsides within the first six months. It is worth mentioning to the doctor so that it can be monitored, but this condition usually takes care of itself.
Enlarged Tonsils or Adenoids. While this mostly affects older children, in rare cases a baby can suffer from snoring due to the effects of swollen tonsils or adenoids that are getting in the way of breathing properly during sleep. This is usually due to an infection of the tonsils or adenoids. If this is a problem, your doctor will examine your baby and should be able to feel the swelling that may be blocking the airways and causing snoring. Most of these types of infections can be treated with medication, but in very rare cases surgery may be needed.
Sleep Apnea. Some babies can have total obstruction of the airway which causes long pauses in breathing during sleep. Loud snoring and severe sleep disruptions are signs of this problem. If you notice that your baby snores loudly and sometimes stops breathing, then abruptly waking and gasping for air, you’ll need to speak with your pediatrician. Although uncommon, it is possible for a baby to have sleep apnea, a serious sleep related breathing condition in which the child’s breathing is not functioning as it should during sleep. Your doctor will be able to help you look at possible underlying causes for sleep apnea and should help you determine the best treatment. Fortunately, many babies simply need to time for their respiratory systems to develop and the snoring may subside without need for extreme medical intervention.
What to Do if Your Baby is Snoring?
In most cases, a snoring baby is no reason to panic. However, certain situations may require medical attention in order to be sure that your baby is healthy and happy.
Call your doctor if your baby is:
- Breathing erratically. Snoring and stopping breathing for several seconds, then appearing to be breathless when breathing again could be a sign that your child is not receiving enough oxygen.
- Snoring very loudly or shrilly. Ear-piercing snoring is not normal for a tiny baby and you should be concerned about his or her breathing.
- Not sleeping well due to snoring. If snoring is interfering with your baby’s ability to get a good block of sleep, check with your pediatrician as something else may be contributing to the problem.
- Snoring frequently. A short term bout with snoring may not be unusual, but long term snoring may be an indication of a deeper problem. If your baby is snoring for several weeks at a time every time he or she sleeps, talk to your doctor about it.
If your baby is making a bit of noise during sleep, but seems to be sleeping happily and wake up refreshed, then you probably have no reason to worry. A bit of snoring or snorting during sleep is likely a fairly innocuous problem that can be eliminated easily at home, or will go away on its own as baby grows.