Snoring is unfortunately quite common. Statistically, men snore more often than women, and older people tend to snore more often - and more loudly - than younger people. That said, even infants can make all kinds of noises in their sleep, which includes loud snoring.
So why do infants and toddlers snore loudly in their sleep? And should you as a parent worry about it? In this article, we’ll explain how snoring works, what causes it and what you can do to stop it.
Why do we snore?
Snoring can have many different causes. The sound is caused by our throat muscles relaxing and becoming slack while we sleep. When we breathe, the soft palate and pharyngeal uvula start to move and rattle about, which generates this most annoying of noises.
Some people are anatomically predisposed to snoring, in that they have a larger than average tongue, thicker tonsils or snore due to the shape or mechanics of their jaw and nose. In addition, being overweight or obese can also cause snoring.
Snoring can also be caused by narrow airways and allergies. Narrowed airways are caused by infections, for example, and can indicate the presence of some kind of respiratory illness.
Why do babies and toddlers snore?
Small children snore for reasons similar to those of adults. In fact, it’s quite common for babies to snore in their sleep.
The reason why babies snore
Newborn babies don't have fully developed airways; their nasal passages are less solid and narrower compared to those of adults. When babies breathe, this causes the airways to move and tremble. This triggers the snoring sound and is in most cases completely harmless.
Another reason why babies and toddlers snore is the larynx mucosa, the mucous membrane fold in the throat. While this is fully developed in adults, it’s not yet in babies. Babies are therefore more prone to making gurgling or rattling sounds in their sleep. This problem usually goes away on its own as babies grow older and their bodies become more developed. In addition, babies can’t clear their throat on their own yet. This means that excess mucus can accumulate on your little angel’s larynx and make noises while they sleep.
The reason why toddlers snore - swollen tonsils
In young children, snoring is often caused by an infection or a blocked nose. If this is not the case, enlarged tonsils or nasal polyps in the nose are usually the cause.
The tonsils are part of our body's immune system and are responsible for keeping pathogens from entering our body through the nose or mouth. Young children are particularly likely to come into contact with bacteria and viruses because they touch all sorts of things and put them in their mouths. It’s therefore not uncommon for the tonsils to be overworked and become inflamed.
At night, the muscles slacken and relax, which in turn causes the tonsils to block the airways. If you notice your child breathing through the mouth frequently throughout the day, or if their sinuses are inflamed, this can be an indication of enlarged tonsils in the throat or palate.
Polyps in the nose in children
Young children quite often suffer from enlarged tonsils in the throat, commonly known as polyps. However, these are not polyps, but a part of the immune system that, like the palatine tonsils, is responsible for stopping pathogens.
As mentioned earlier, these become inflamed very easily in young children and generally aren’t a cause for concern. If, however, your child starts to suffer from breathing problems, middle ear infections or constant sniffles, you should consult a doctor.
What can be done to stop your baby from snoring?
Snoring in babies is usually harmless and disappears as they grow older. Most newborns continue to snore at night until they are about five months old. If your baby doesn’t show any other symptoms, such as tiredness during the day or frequent crying during sleep, you as a parent don't need to worry at first.
To loosen the mucus in the baby's throat, you can very gently tap your baby on the chest or lift him and gently pat or stroke his back. This will help get rid of the irritating mucus and your baby should be able to continue sleeping peacefully afterwards. In addition, you can use a nasal aspirator on your baby to help keep their nose clear. Just be sure not to use the aspirator too frequently and to find the right sized aspirator for your baby’s age.
Creating the perfect sleeping environment for infants
The optimal sleeping temperature plays an important role in improving the quality of your child’s sleep and ensuring that they get the rest they need during the night. If your child snores, it might be a good idea to increase the humidity in the bedroom to help loosen the mucous.
The recommended humidity is between 40% to 60% and the temperature should be 15 to 20 degrees Celsius. The optimal room temperature for babies is between 16 and 18 degrees Celsius. If your child has inflamed tonsils or a cold, you can hang damp cloths near their bed to increase the room’s humidity.
Products at Zizzz to help your child sleep better
In order for babies and children to get a good night’s sleep, it is important to dress them properly at night. This is due to the fact that children who are wrapped up too warm wake up more quickly at night due to heavy sweating, and children who are cold at night cannot sleep through the night.
This is why we’ve developed our sleeping bags for babies and toddlers, which guarantee a restful sleep. Our 4 seasons baby sleeping bags help regulate your child’s body temperature and absorb sweat and moisture. They are made with Swiss virgin wool filling and an outer layer of GOTS-certified organic cotton. We also carry summer sleeping bags, which are perfect for warmer nights. Our children's sleeping bags can be worn up to the age of 6.
If a baby or toddler only snores and shows no other symptoms, there is no need to worry because the underlying causes are generally harmless. Babies are relatively noisy at night and can make different sounds because their airways are still developing. Infants often snore because of enlarged tonsils or colds, but this also subsides with time.
To help your child sleep, you should make sure that the environment is adapted to your little angel’s needs. If your child suffers from an inflamed throat, you might want to increase the room’s humidity to make breathing easier.