Mouth breathing is often thought of as something that only happens when we’re ill, but in fact, many babies are mouth breathers. If your baby is a mouth breather, it’s important to understand why this matters and what you can do about it.
Mouth breathing is a red flag, especially if you have a baby who maybe is waking up frequently at night, maybe is really fussing and cranking a lot seems to be overtired.
If you’re concerned that your baby is a mouth breather, talk to a professional for advice on how to proceed. There are a number of treatments that can help reduce or eliminate the problem.
Is It Okay For A Baby To Sleep With A Mouth Open?
I really want you to think about what your baby’s mouth does, when they’re sleeping. And when they’re just at rest. It is not normal for a baby to sleep with their mouth open. Because if their mouth is even just a little bit open, at rest or when sleeping, this means that they are breathing through their mouth and not through their nose, which is really what we want to be breathing in order to really get all of the proper oxygenation into our body and also clean the air as it comes into our body.
Does Mouth Breathing Affect My Baby?
Mouth breathing can increase some of the bacteria that comes into our body, because it’s not going through that filtration system of the nose. It can also lead to things like generalized fatigue, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, especially for slightly older children and as adults as well.
This can have implications on our mood, our sleep, and just overall mental health as well.
Why Is My Baby Breathing Through His Mouth?
If our tongue is resting on the floor of our mouth instead of up at the top palate, when we are sleeping or awake and at rest, then we are not actually eliciting optimal rest posture. Our Optimal Rest posture is our lips closed, and tongue resting up on our palate (aka roof of the mouth).
So if your baby is mouth breathing, that means that most likely their tongue is actually resting on the bottom of their mouth. And that could be due to a variety of different things. That could be due to body tightness that’s keeping that tongue down, or it could be due to cranial nerve dysfunction (that will be a whole other blog), or perhaps it is due to a frenum under the tongue that is too tight, too short, or too thick (aka “tongue-tie”) and causing restriction.
The tongue is actually made up of eight muscles and there could be tightness in those muscles, but also in all of the attachments in the fascia that’s coming down from the body.
Another sign of mouth breathing definitely is snoring and also grinding teeth. That can be a sign that there is also an airway issue, and they’re actually grinding their teeth to wake themselves up. Teeth grinding usually happens at night.
Mouth breathing can also affect tooth and dental development – things like: crowding of the teeth, hypersensitive gag reflex, inflamed gums, etc.
Mouth breathing can also affect their behavior especially if they are not sleeping well. I’m talking about this right now, because I’ve just started going down the rabbit hole of mouth breathing and tongue ties and airway issues.
If you want a complete information about this topic, you can watch the video that I created HERE
A related topic to this is Tethered Oral Tissues (TOTs). I created the Tips For TOTs Guide just for you because I know that tongue- and lip-ties are on your mind, and you’re wondering how you can best help your baby. The Tips For TOTs Guide Ebook is available HERE!
Want more support on sleep, development, reflux, tongue-ties and more for babies 0-2 years? Join our community of mamas in the Sleep Deprived Mamas: Holistic + Heart-Centred Support (without sleep training).