What Should You Do if Your Infant Snores While Sleeping

This article tackles the subject of infant snoring. Is it a sign of a health condition or is it completely normal?

Infant snoring

Although parents often find it concerning, infant snoring is normal. Babies often make snoring noises when they are breathing. Especially when they are asleep.

As with adults, infant snoring is only the noise produced by vibrations of the soft flesh in the airways.

Of course, if the snoring appears unusually loud or you simply need to set your mind at rest, you may want to discuss the matter with your family doctor or another suitably qualified healthcare professional.

Taking care of a newborn can entail quite a lot of stress. Night feeds, diaper changes, crying, etc., can all take a toll on the nerves. If getting a professional opinion about your baby’s snoring sets your mind at rest, it will be one less thing to worry about.

However, there may be other contributing factors. If your baby has other symptoms, it’s sensible to seek medical advice in case the snoring is a sign of something more serious.

Causes of Infant Snoring – Signs to Look Out For

As already stated, infant snoring happens when the soft tissues in the airways vibrate. As with adults, the muscles at the back of the throat relax during sleep. That’s why your baby may snore while sleeping but breathe normally while awake.

The nasal passages can also be the source of the snoring noise. An infant’s nasal passages are very small. Even a little dryness or mucus in their noses can cause them to snore or produce other noises while breathing. As they grow, the snoring/noisy breathing usually disappears. 

However, there may be other contributing factors. If your baby has other symptoms, it’s sensible to seek medical advice in case the snoring is a sign of something more serious.

If your baby’s snoring is unusually loud, it could indicate the presence of a bent septum within the nose. Enlarged adenoids or tonsils are another possible cause of loud infant snoring.

The septum is a small piece of cartilage that separates the nostrils. Deviations of the septum are quite common during a baby’s first days after birth.

The results of one study suggest nearly 20 percent of newborns may have deviations of the septum but it’s an issue that tends to resolve itself over time.

Sleep apnea is another possibility. Experts are unsure about the prevalence of sleep apnea in infants but it’s a condition that affects one to five percent of children.

If your child has sleep apnea, the snoring will be accompanied by pauses in breathing, choking, or periods of gasping for air.

If your child has any breathing difficulties or other symptoms that are causing you concern, do not hesitate to seek expert advice.

Infant Snoring: Some Things You Can Do (Plus Something You Should Not)

Infants who snore may not get a sufficient amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This is an important deep-sleep stage. When you don’t get enough REM sleep it can lead to fatigue.

In the case of infants, lack of quality sleep may also cause other problems including:

  • Poor weight gain
  • Night terrors
  • Behavior resembling attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Fortunately, there are several steps parents can take to help their children to stop snoring and get the maximum benefit from their sleep.

However, it’s best to get the approval of a doctor before using nasal aspirators or nasal drops/sprays.

Nasal Drops and Sprays

Nasal congestion and blockages can often be remedied by using nasal drops. It’s a simple solution that can work very well.

Some companies produce nasal drops and sprays made especially for babies. Calpol and Snuffable are two of the most popular brands.

Nasal Aspirators

Nasal aspirators are another option you can use to clear the congestion in your child’s nose. They work by applying a slight suction to the nostrils that sucks out the mucous blocking the nose.

The cheapest options only cost a few dollars. They are very simple. You apply pressure to the bulbous section at the bottom of the aspirator and then slowly release the pressure while the tip is in your child’s nostril.

At the other end of the scale, battery-powered nasal aspirators often cost upwards of $30 and generally come with a choice of tips.

Room Humidifiers

Room humidifiers are another option available to parents looking for a way to tackle infant snoring.

If you have central heating, the air in your home may be drier than you think. As well as providing a warm, cozy home; central heating dries out the air. 

The region you live in also comes into play. Some warm, dusty environments can have very dry air.

All that dry air can help clog up your children’s noses, causing them to snore.

Room humidifiers moisten the air. By providing greater humidity to the air your child breathes, they can prevent the nasal blockages that cause snoring. 

Certain essential oils can provide additional benefits if you add a few drops to your humidifier’s water.

Eucalyptus, peppermint, menthol, and lavender are a few good options. All of them can help prevent nasal congestion. Lavender also has a soothing effect that may help your baby to sleep.

Take Advantage of Steam

Although it’s not as good as a room humidifier, it’s also possible to use steam to clear your baby’s airways. The easiest way to do this is to carry your baby into the bathroom, turn on the shower, using a warm temperature setting and, wait for the room to fill with steam.

When the steam gets into your baby’s airways it will help clear nasal blockages that may be responsible for noisy breathing or snoring.

Eliminate Allergens

It’s also best to try and eliminate dust, pollen, and other airborne allergens from your home. Especially from the room where your baby has to go to sleep.

If you can, try to use laminate flooring or tiles in your baby’s bedroom. Carpets can be dust magnets. Rugs can too, so think twice before throwing any onto the floor.

Heavy curtains can also attract a lot of dust. Be aware of this when you are choosing or replacing the curtains in the room where your baby sleeps.

Airborne allergens can cause nasal congestion. If your child often breathes through its mouth, the allergens may irritate the back of their throat as well, making it sore and further increasing the likelihood of snoring.

If you are a smoker, try to only smoke outside. It will ensure your child does not have to breathe in your second-hand smoke.

Better still, stop! There is a connection between smoking and snoring.

Knock that nasty habit on the head!

Tobacco smoke is another thing that can congest your baby’s nose. Needless to say, second-hand smoke is also something you don’t want your baby to inhale into its lungs.

Turn off the Air Conditioning

On a hot day, air conditioning can seem like a godsend but it may be best to turn it off before putting your baby to bed.

Air conditioning dries out the air and makes your baby more likely to snore.

Are electric fans a good alternative? Not really.

When you leave a fan running, it recirculates any allergens present in the air.

When fans are not in use, they also tend to gather dust on the blades and other moving parts. The moment you set the fan in motion, those allergens are returned to the air.

Sleep Position

The position you sleep in can make you more likely to snore. This is true for children too but it’s unwise to try and stop babies from snoring by placing them in unnatural sleeping positions.

Although babies that sleep on their stomachs or backs are more likely to snore, experts say it can be dangerous to try and encourage your baby to sleep on its side.

However, when babies become old enough to adopt a side sleeping position through preference, they will probably snore less. Until then, it’s safer to have them sleep on their backs.

Infant Snoring: A Quick Recap

Although infant snoring is very common and seldom a cause for concern, it can also signify underlying conditions that may require professional care.

If your baby appears to have difficulty breathing or the snoring seems unusually loud, the best thing to do is seek professional medical advice.

If a problem comes to light, your baby will get the treatment it needs and, if there is no problem, you will be able to put your worries to bed.

There are also several steps you can make to prevent your baby from snoring. Most of them come down to careful planning of his or her sleep space.

Actions like avoiding dust magnets and adding extra humidity to the air should help your baby avoid nasal congestion and other problems that can cause snoring.

If congestion does become a problem, nasal sprays and nasal aspirators may be very useful for keeping it under control. However, before you resort to these measures it’s a wise move to speak to a medical professional about it first.