Ashoka House, 3A Hare Street, 7th Floor, Kolkata - 700001

Babies sleeping with their mouth open – What does it mean?

Thursday, August 11th, 2022



Watching a baby sleep is therapeutic, in so many ways. How cute do these little monsters look resting, a rare sight indeed! You can land unlimited kisses on their red cheeks without getting shooed away and tuck your finger in their little hands. Basically, take as much affection as you can while they’re asleep. But is it just us or your baby too sleep with its mouth wide open? However cute it looks, sleeping with the mouth open is not a healthy sign. A healthy baby will automatically breathe through its nose. So, when babies sleep with their mouths open, it is highly likely that they have developed some type of blockage in the upper airway, it could either be harmless like a stuffed nose or sore throat or it could be due to some allergy or complex health issue. If it happens occasionally, it is not a matter of concern but long-term habits might be a sign of breathing issues, it is recommended to consult a paediatrician.

Why do babies sleep with their mouth open?

As already established above, sleeping with an open mouth is not a healthy sign. Let us understand in detail why this happens and how to get rid of it and whether it is a matter of concern or not. Here are a few reasons which lead to mouth breathing :

Mucus – Your baby might be breathing through their mouth out of necessity. Due to a stuffed nose or mucus blockage, your little fighter might be facing difficulty breathing normally, hence, they resort to mouth breathing. It is advisable to get their infection treated as long-term blockage might lead to breathing complications and even choking.

Sleep apnea –  Sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder due to blockage in the upper airways which leads to irregular breathing. The main cause of blockage is inflamed tonsils, enlarged adenoids, or infection. A baby with sleep apnea might snore, have difficulty in sound sleeping, breathing through mouth, etc. Professional treatment is recommended.

Deviated septum – Deviated septum is a case of the deformed nasal septum, dislocation of the thin wall to one side, which separates our right and left nasal passage. This condition is likely a birth defect that a child is born with. Even though it is not a serious condition, early treatment might help in managing the condition better.

Tongue-tied – Babies develop this condition in the womb as a result of a gene mutation. A baby born with tongue-tie struggles with restricted tongue movement. They might also face difficulty doing regular tasks such as breastfeeding, playing a wind instrument, licking, moving the tongue, sucking, etc. This abnormality results in mouth breathing during sleep, hence, babies sleep with an open mouth.

How to help your baby
  • Use a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air and decrease the amount of mucus they produce.
  • Suck out the blockage with the help of a nasal syringe for instant relief.
  • Improve air quality with the help of an air filter.
  • If you have pets, make sure to deep clean your home. Pet dander not only causes breathlessness but also causes other problems such as a stuffy nose, sneezing, and itchy or watery eyes.
  • Give your baby a warm bath to loosen the mucus.
  • Use saline drops, a few drops will help the snot come out easily.
Surely adorable but mouth breathing during sleep possesses long-term breathing complications. You can help your baby in managing their breathing by analysing their condition and taking measured steps to overcome it.