Is It Normal For a Baby To Sleep With Their Mouth Open?

Watching a baby sleep with their mouth open can look cute but very often, this is due to more serious underlying issues. As parents, it is important to not get carried away by the peaceful sight of your baby sleeping. You need to pay close attention to their sleep habits and the quality of sleep they are getting. Once you notice things like snoring or gentle gasps for air, you should see a doctor.

There are beliefs that because babies have little noses they breathe through their mouths to compensate for the little air but this is not entirely true. While the baby’s anatomy is still developing, breathing through the mouth is a sign that your baby cannot breathe properly and may need attention. They are lots of reasons why this happens, each with a different approach to resolving it.

This article looks at all you need to know about having a baby that sleeps with their mouth open and ways to go about it.

Is It Normal For a Baby To Sleep With Their Mouth Open?

Discover the common question: Is it normal for a baby to sleep with their mouth open? Find out the related questions, reasons and implications.


Does Sleeping With The Mouth Open Mean Anything?

A baby that sleeps with their mouth open, even if it’s just a little is not breathing in the most optimal or healthy way. Newborns should be able to breathe in and out of their noses comfortably. Whenever your baby has to use their mouth to aid breathing, it means their nose or nasal passage may be blocked.

Where the mouth opening is temporal and stops after a while, there may be no cause for alarm. However, when this becomes a consistent habit, it could lead to poor sleep and other issues.

Experts on baby health warn that babies breathing through their mouth may have a breathing disorder. This could lead to an array of sleep and behavior problems because babies that find it hard to get good sleep often become very cranky. The first step to salvaging this is to understand why or the factors that could contribute to mouth breathing or breathing through the mouth.


Why Is My Baby Sleeping With Their Mouth Open?

It’s not enough to just notice your baby sleeps with their mouth open. You need to observe your baby closer to note any issues that could lead to mouth breathing. Here are a few things to look for:

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea refers to a condition that makes your baby snore. This snoring leads to pauses in breathing while asleep. These pauses could even be fatal but in some cases, the babies are able to keep breathing amidst the pauses. Enlarged tonsils are common causes of airway blocks in babies.


Severe congestion can lead to discomfort that makes babies sleep with their mouths open. When mucus accumulates in the nasal passage, it can block the nose making nose breathing impossible hence babies breathe through their mouths. This is common during the summer season when the air is dry and during cold periods.

This can also be caused by an illness or an allergy. Noticing blocks in your baby’s nose can be difficult as their noses are very small. However, very little amounts of mucus can lead to this blockage. A constant assessment of their nose may help you detect this early on.


Allergies are also a common cause of mouth breathing in babies. It is quite common for babies to develop allergies which leads to an increased production of mucus. This, then blocks their airway, making breathing difficult. An easy way to observe this is from your baby’s head and mouth position when sleeping. Often babies will sleep with their heads tilted back and mouth open to ease breathing.


Colds often lead to the over production of mucus which then accumulates in the baby’s airway passages. This may make the nose stuffy and make breathing difficult. To help relieve your baby of this discomfort, you can try suctioning their nose to pull out the mucus. This should help restore normal breathing.

Deformed Cartilage

This condition is known as deviated septum. It results from the deformation of the cartilage and bones in the nose. This leads to mouth breathing. The formation of a deviated septum occurs during fetal development. Babies who have this condition are born with it.

Restricted Tongue

Where the tongue is restricted, the baby is unable to move their tongue beyond a certain range. Due to this, they would be unable to suck comfortably. The most common expression of this condition is difficulty during breastfeeding. As a result of the tongue’s anatomy, it is unable to rest at the roof of the mouth when breathing through the nose.

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What Happens When a Baby Sleeps With its Mouth Open?

The tiny hairs found in the nose help to filter out bacteria and particles found in the air. This ensures they do not find their way to the lungs when breathing. However, when breathing is done through the mouth, this filtering does not take place. Instead, certain areas in the throat try to filter the air and this can lead to their inflammation. This inflammation can further reduce the amount of air that can pass through your baby’s airway making breathing hard. This can also lead to the infection of the parts of the throat that filter the air.

Asides the trouble with breathing, other complications can arise from mouth breathing and sleeping with the mouths open. Some of these complications include alterations to the facial features, dental issues, dry mouth, and dehydration.

Mouth breathing can not provide sufficient oxygen like nose breathing. This could lower the concentration of the oxygen in the blood and if this continues for a long time, it could lead to more serious problems like heart issues and high blood pressure.

Also, with mouth breathing, babies cannot get the quality sleep that they desperately need. They may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. The inability to get quality sleep can affect the child’s growth and development.


How To Stop Your Baby From Sleeping With Their Mouth Open?

If you observe your baby always breathes with their mouth open, you should see your pediatrician as soon as possible. They would analyze all of your baby’s symptoms and provide a diagnosis and a treatment plan. However, if the reason for the mouth breathing is due to things like excess mucus, there are steps you can take to manage the situation.

Below are some of the ways to resolve mouth breathing problems and help your baby get better sleep:

Give Your Baby A Warm Bath

Warm baths are not only relaxing but can help manage crankiness. It also helps with the removal of mucus that could be blocking their airways. This would enhance breathing and help them get a relaxing sleep.

Use Saline Drops

Saline drops have been in use for some time now and they are very effective. In cases where your baby’s mucus is too thick and difficult to suction or release, saline drops would make them thinner. This is done by adding a few saline drops, about three, to the nose and then wiping minutes later. As the mucus thins out, blowing out becomes easier.

Remove Allergens

Allergens cause breathing troubles. Getting rid of them if possible would help solve airway issues. Where you have pets like cats and dogs, cleaning and vacuuming regularly helps get rid of their dander around the house. Opening the windows routinely also helps remove allergens and freshen the air.

Use An Air Filter

Air filters are also effective in getting rid of things that could lead to your baby’s allergies. They improve the air quality and ensure it is safe for baby breathing. This also prevents the over production of mucus.

Use A Humidifier

When the air is dry, the body increases the mucus produced to balance out the dryness and prevent nose bleeds and other dry air related breathing troubles. The tiny airways of baby’s however can be blocked easily when mucus production increases. Using a humidifier helps keep the air moist and so the body does not need to increase mucus production.

Suction It Out

As adults, if we have too much mucus in our noses, we know what to do and how to blow them out. For babies, this is not the case so, parent assisted suctioning to the rescue!

After suctioning, your baby will be able to breathe better. It should also be noted that this must be done moderately as over suctioning can also create discomfort. Nasal syringes are common devices using in suctioning.

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At what point should you see a doctor? The moment you observe that your baby has trouble breathing or is not taking in enough oxygen, treat the situation like an emergency and have them see a doctor. Where breathing troubles are not consistent, there may be tied to temporary issues like nasal congestion or even anxiety. The remedies above should help. If they don’t, seek the advice of a doctor.

Try not to panic when you notice these breathing issues. All you need to do is get the attention of a qualified health care provider. These can be managed properly with the right medical intervention.