Infant Snoring: Causes, Side-effects & Remedies

You are likely to find yourself oscillating between joy and worry when your child is young. Watching your child grow up into a unique individual is a joy. However, it also brings with it constant anxieties such as wondering whether you are doing the right thing when your child is sick, or if your child’s behaviour is normal or should cause you worry. One of these potential worries could arise when you see your baby snore frequently.

Is Snoring Normal in Babies?

Watching a newborn snoring can be adorable, but if your baby snores on a regular basis, you might start to worry. A baby snoring while sleeping is a normal occurrence with about one in ten babies prone to this. This usually happens because a newborn’s airways are immature and might be constricted by mucus.

What Causes Snoring in Infants?

Snoring in babies is a result of some obstruction in the airway of the throat which causes air that is inhaled to vibrate the throat tissues producing the sound. The common reasons for this are a blocked nose, airways that are not fully developed, or having a cold. At times, the baby’s throat muscles relax while in deep sleep and the emanating sound might seem like a snore.

Most babies get over the snoring as they grow older, but in some instances, this could be a symptom of a health condition such as:

1. Apnea of Infancy: Commonly seen in babies younger than a year, it refers to a temporary interruption in breathing while asleep. Infant sleep apnea is an associated breathing disorder.

2. Infected Tonsils: Athough it is a rare occurrence, when the baby’s tonsils have become enlarged due to infection, it can lead to snoring. Also known as obstructive apnea, it can cause shortness of breath or gasping, along with snoring.

3. Septum Deviation: In this condition, the nasal septum, which divides the nasal cavity into two, digresses from the centre.

4. Respiratory Infection: When a baby has a stuffy nose as a result of a cold, the nasal blockage can cause the baby to breathe through the mouth. This can result in snoring.

5. Asthma: Babies who snore are considered twice as likely to have asthma as others. In some babies, it might be respiratory allergies causing this.

6. Throat Problems: Irregular movement of the palate, which is the separator between the oral and nasal cavity, can cause babies to snore. Cysts are another reason for snoring in babies.

7. Apnea of Prematurity: A problem is seen in babies born prematurely, usually within 34 weeks of pregnancy, where the baby develops breathing problems owing to an immature respiratory system. It then brings on snoring.

Baby sleeping

Is Snoring a Sign of Any Disease Or Illness?

Snoring in babies can be indicative of a variety of issues from enlarged tonsils or adenoids, to sleep apnea. The snoring can have an impact on your child’s quality of sleep leading to further issues with growth and development. Sleep deprivation can result in poor weight gain, obesity, night terrors, ADHD, under-eye circles, and bedwetting amongst others. If your baby is a habitual snorer and also shows little weight gain, besides being a poor eater, then it is possible that the underlying cause is a problem with the throat, lung, or heart.

What is the Difference Between Snoring and Noisy Breathing?

At times, noisy breathing, also known as stridor, can be mistaken for snoring. In this, the noise comes from baby’s throat and is most often a result of laryngomalacia, which is a congenital problem. The sound originates in the larynx where the cartilaginous lining of the upper larynx falls inwards and collapses into the airway.

Side-effects of Snoring in Babies

If snoring persists in babies for a long time, it might result in issues such as:

• Lack of concentration and poor memory
• Stunted social development as baby grows up
• Anxiety and irritability
• Cognitive dysfunction
• Low levels of activity and wants to sleep during the day
• Depression

Remedies for Infant Snoring

If the baby’s snoring is caused by a medical or congenital condition, then treating that cause will cure your baby of snoring. However, if other reasons are the cause and you are wondering how to deal with your baby snoring, try some of the following remedies:

• Adjust Sleep Position: Try changing your baby’s position while he sleeps. A lot of infants tend to snore when they are asleep on their back or on their tummy. Sleeping on the side seems to stop the snoring in some children. That said, the best position for babies is on their back, so you could try tilting his head to one side and see if that helps. You must alternate the tilt side frequently. Slightly inclining your baby’s head with a pillow under the mattress can ease congestion and help him sleep better.

Baby sleeping on its side

• Eliminate Allergens: Ensure that your baby’s room is clean and dust-free to prevent cold, nasal congestion, and other respiratory problems that can cause snoring or snorting. Do not use thick carpets or heavy curtains which are dust magnets.

• Get a Humidifier: If the air inside your house is dry, it can irritate baby’s immature airways. Using a humidifier can maintain the humidity at optimum levels whenever the baby is sleeping and thus, ease breathing which can do away with snoring and snorting.

• Use a Nasal Aspirator: Regularly cleaning baby’s nose with an aspirator can eliminate the mucus and clear the nasal passage. Use a saline spray only as per the recommended dosage, after consultation with the paediatrician.

• Let the Baby Inhale Steam: Hold baby in your arms and stand in the bathroom as you switch on the warm shower and let the steam rise. Once the steam gets into your baby’s airways, it will do away with the blockage that might be causing breathing problems.

Apart from these home remedies, do not give your baby any medication for snoring that may be available over-the-counter unless it is prescribed by your paediatrician.

When to Visit the Doctor?

It can take a while for snoring issues to be resolved and during these times, it is important to keep a close watch over your baby to ensure that he or she is not in any danger. If you notice any of the following, it is time to go to the doctor immediately:

1. Erratic Breathing: At any time, if you notice that your baby’s breathing stops while snoring, even if it is for just a second or two, you must take him to a doctor. It is likely to be a serious issue and not breathing even for such a short time can adversely impact baby’s internal organs.

2. Interrupted Sleep: If the snoring keeps waking up your baby and makes it impossible for him to sleep at a stretch, then you should seek help. Sleep deprivation can have wide-ranging repercussions on your child’s growth and development.

3. Snorting and Snoring Too Much: If your baby is snorting and snoring every time he sleeps and this continues for days and weeks, then it is a matter of concern.

4. Shrill or Extremely Loud Snorting and Snoring: If your baby’s snorting and snoring are painful on your ears then something is not right. Loud snoring is not normal for a little baby.

You will have to keep a close watch on your child’s sleep patterns and make notes in a diary about when snoring peaks, how often it occurs, and how loud it is. Doing this for a few days will help you see a pattern and decide if a doctor’s visit is warranted. Also, this information will prove useful to your doctor in arriving at a diagnosis and suggesting the best course of treatment.

Disclaimer: This information is just a guide and not a substitute for medical advice from a qualified professional.

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