Your tiny new baby sniffles, snuffles and snorts – but is this something you should be concerned about? By Kim Bell
Your young baby is a noisy breather in general, because his airwaves are narrow and filled with secretions. But what is considered normal and when should you worry when it comes to newborn snoring?
A Harvard Medical School graduate with over 40 years of experience in advising parents on how to raise healthier families, and as the father of eight, Dr William Sears knows what he is taking about.
He explains that a newborn’s nasal cavity is filled with bubbly secretions. “The air passing through these puddles of secretions causes lots of different vibratory sounds, similar to the musical sound produced by a reed instrument,” he explains. “That’s all snoring is: the sound produced by the vibrating soft tissues of the airway.”
Dr Sears explains that most of the time, this will disappear as your baby’s airways grow and he learns to swallow the excess saliva. However, sometimes this may be a sign that his nasal passages are not as clear as they should be. “When the breathing passages are obstructed, your baby has to breathe harder to move air past the obstructions, which produces the sound of snoring.”
What you can do:
- Keep nasal passages clear. If your paediatrician approves, you can “hose his nose”. Dr Sears explains that one of the best home remedies is to squirt a saline nasal spray, available at most pharmacies, into your baby’s nose once a day. Most pharmacies and supermarkets sell one that’s suitable for use on babies. You can then use a nasal aspirator (a suction bulb that has a rubber plastic tip) to suck out the excess secretions gently and easily.
- Winter is particularly problematic, particularly in dry region. A warm-mist humidifier or vaporiser may be a giod investment.
- Steam clean your baby’s nose by standing in a warm shower holding your baby and let the steam help loosen any excess secretions in his airwaves. “Do this just before bedtime, since noisy breathing from clogged airways is mostly a problem during sleep,” adds Dr Sears.
- Your baby may be more prone to snoring if he has allergies, a cold or other respiratory conditions. Try to keep his environment free from dust, pet dander and other allergens. Keep his room well-ventilated.
- Have some greenery. Indoor plants can help clean and purify the air in your baby’s room. The spider plant is recommended as it is non-toxic, easy to grow and likes indirect sunlight.
When to seek help
Dr Sears explains that as your baby’s airways mature, so the snoring should disappear. But if the snoring persists, he recommends that you start a health journal. “Record your baby’s different sounds, day-by-day.” If his snoring worsens, speak to your paediatrician or family doctor.
The best guage of your baby’s health is yourself, says Dr Sears, and you should always follow your instincts. If you are concerned, seek advice now. Your doctor will check to see that there are no problems with the structure of his airways as sometimes the nasal septum is deviated to one side, which may cause a partial obstruction of one of the nostrils. Your doctor will also check to see if there are any structural abnormalities. Tonsils can also be problematic – but this is usually in older toddlers or children and not particularly in babies. Dr Sears explains that your doctor may check your baby’s breathing as some children experience laryngomalacia, where the cartilage that keeps the breathing passages open has not fully matured. “As your baby grows, the airway structures mature and this condition, along with the loud sounds that accompany it, should subside by six months.”
Kim Bell is a wife, mother of two teenagers and a lover of research and the way words flow and meld together. She has been in the media industry for over 20 years, and yet still learns more about life from her children everyday. You can learn more about Kim Bell here.