Open Mouth Breathing in Infants


Frequently called obligate or preferential nasal breathers, infants show a propensity for breathing through their noses. Although usually infrequent, mouth breathing plays an essential function in helping keep your infant alive and healthy. Learn the facts about mouth breathing in babies– what makes it challenging, why it’s required and how it might save your baby’s life.


At birth, your infant has particular physical features that have the tendency to limit mouth breathing and promote more rapid feeding. These features include a bigger tongue, smaller sized mouth and raised larynx. Furthermore, according to Annie Bagnall, contributing author in the book “Feeding and Nutrition in the Preterm Baby,” the epiglottis– which closes off and safeguards the windpipe– is exceptionally near to your infant’s soft palate– the flap of muscle located at the back of the roof of the mouth. This proximity enables your infant to switch between nursing and nasal breathing quicker. At the very same time, it makes mouth breathing harder.


During the first couple of months of life, the majority of babies breathe through their mouths just when sobbing. Around the age of 6 months, quick physical development moves the soft palate and epiglottis farther apart, which permits your infant more flexibility to breathe through the mouth. Although they can alternate successfully between nasal and mouth breathing, normal babies over the age of 6 months generally continue to reveal a choice for nasal breathing.

Open Mouth Breathing in Infants
Open Mouth Breathing in Infants


Because infants normally choose to breathe through their noses, mouth breathing could be a sign of upper airway problems. According to John Douillard, Ph.D., author of the book “Mind, Body and Sport,” infants breathe through their mouths if they are unable to breathe through their noses. During early infancy, prior to the soft palate and epiglottis move apart, nasal obstruction makes your baby cry. The act of crying brings air into the lungs through the mouth.


In certain cases, your newborn infant’s capability to mouth breathe on a regular basis might assist in saving her life. Choanal atresia– the most common nasal abnormality present in babies at birth, according to Medline Plus– is defined by the existence of tissue that blocks the opening of one or both nostrils. Babies experiencing obstruction of both nostrils can only breathe when they weep and frequently have bluish skin arising from a dangerous lack of oxygen. Babies who can breathe through their mouths without crying may have the ability to wait a bit longer prior to needing to undergo surgery to get rid of the tissue clog.


Nasal clog from a stopped-up or runny nose becomes less problematic for your baby once she becomes able to breathe through the mouth on a more routine basis. Infants under the age of 6 months who avoid mouth breathing may experience breathing problem when dealing with these nasal problems, which often develop from typical diseases like colds. Supply comfort measures if your infant has a cold and seems to be having problem breathing. Two common treatments consist of getting rid of excess mucus from the nose with a bulb syringe and thinning nasal secretions with saline nasal drops.


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