Why Your Baby Sleeps with an Open Mouth and When to Be Concerned

Discovering that your baby sleeps with their mouth open can be a concerning observation for many parents. While it might seem harmless, habitual mouth breathing in infants can lead to several developmental and health issues. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore why mouth breathing occurs in babies, its potential causes, the associated risks, and when it's vital to seek medical intervention.

Understanding Mouth Breathing in Babies

Mouth breathing refers to the act of breathing through the mouth instead of the nose. While it's normal for babies to breathe through their mouths occasionally—such as when they have a stuffy nose—persistent mouth breathing may be indicative of underlying health issues. Under healthy conditions, babies primarily breathe through their noses, which naturally helps filter and warm the air, enhancing their overall comfort and health.

Baby Laying Down

Common Causes of Mouth Breathing in Infants

  • Nasal Congestion: Common colds, allergies, or sinus infections can block the nasal passages, forcing a baby to breathe through their mouth.
  • Enlarged Tonsils or Adenoids: Swollen tonsils or adenoids can obstruct the airway, making nasal breathing challenging.
  • Deviated Septum: A deviation in the nasal septum (the wall between the nostrils) can restrict airflow, prompting mouth breathing.
  • Environmental Factors: Exposure to irritants like dust or smoke can inflame the nasal passages, leading to temporary mouth breathing.

Health Risks Associated with Chronic Mouth Breathing

Long-term mouth breathing can adversely affect a baby's health and development in several ways:

  • Poor Sleep Quality: Mouth breathing can disrupt sleep, leading to less restorative sleep cycles and potential issues with overall development.
  • Dental Problems: Chronic mouth breathing can alter jaw development, affect teeth alignment, and increase the risk of gum disease.
  • Increased Risk of Infections: Breathing through the mouth can decrease the body's natural ability to filter bacteria, increasing the likelihood of developing respiratory infections.
  • Speech and Swallowing Difficulties: Prolonged mouth breathing can impact the muscles used in speech and swallowing, potentially leading to delays in these areas.

When to Be Concerned

If you notice that your baby frequently sleeps with their mouth open, it is essential to monitor them for any signs of distress or other symptoms that may indicate a more serious condition:

  • Noisy Breathing: Sounds such as snoring or high-pitched wheezing can suggest airway blockages.
  • Increased Effort to Breathe: Watch for signs like flared nostrils or retractions (skin sucking in around ribs or neck during breathing).
  • Poor Growth: Difficulty feeding and inadequate nutrition from interrupted breathing can lead to poor weight gain.

If any of these symptoms are present, consult with a pediatrician. They may refer you to a specialist, such as an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor), to diagnose and treat any underlying issues.

Improving Your Baby's Sleeping Environment

While addressing the medical aspects of mouth breathing, creating an optimal sleep environment is also crucial. The quality of air and the overall ambiance in the nursery can play a significant role in promoting healthier, nose-based breathing. To aid this, consider incorporating 100% blackout curtains from Sleepout. These curtains not only block out external light—ensuring a distraction-free sleep environment—but also help maintain a stable and calm atmosphere, reducing potential irritants.

Black Blackout Curtains


While it's common for infants to breathe through their mouths occasionally, persistent mouth breathing should not be overlooked. It can be a sign of obstructed nasal passages or other issues needing medical attention. By understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and creating a soothing sleep environment with tools like blackout curtains, you can ensure your baby has the best start to a healthy life. Remember, prompt action and consultation with a healthcare provider are key to addressing any concerns about your baby's breathing habits.

Remember: The comfort and health of your baby are paramount. Take steps today to ensure that their breathing is as effective and healthy as possible during sleep.

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