We’ve heard time and time again that sleep is an undeniably crucial aspect of a child’s development, so if we hear our children snoring, it’s no surprise that we want to get to the bottom of it. And while some snoring in children and toddlers is normal, it can also be a sign of a medical problem that needs treatment. So when should we be concerned?
To answer all of our questions for all things pediatric snoring, we’re turning to the experts in the field: pediatric ear, nose, and throat specialists from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. We’ve partnered with the innovative and compassionate professionals at Lurie Children’s to equip you with the tools and information you need to look out for your little ones. If you’re looking for answers surrounding your child snoring, look no further: We’ve rounded up your frequently asked questions with answers from the experts at Lurie Children’s.
What causes snoring in children?
When it comes to defining the root cause of snoring in our little ones, Dr. Ghadersohi referenced a couple of different factors that can be separated into conditional and anatomic causes. “The most common anatomical reason for snoring is an enlargement of tonsils and adenoids,” Dr. Ghadersohi said. “Other anatomic issues include a deviation of the septum, a narrow palate, a small jaw, or narrowing of the larynx (voice box).” Additionally, Dr. Ghadersohi noted that other factors, such as obesity, other diseases, colds, and seasonal allergies, can also serve as the cause of snoring.
How common is it for a toddler or child to snore?
If you notice your child snoring, one of the first questions that might pop into your head is, “is this normal?” According to Dr. Valika, approximately 20% of kids may snore. “Snoring is a sign of disturbed airflow from the nose and mouth to the lungs,” Dr. Valika stated. “If something is getting in the way of the air moving, then your child snores.”
“Light snoring is common in children and may not require medical intervention,” Dr. Billings said. She also said that light snoring might be affected by the sleep stage that the child is in, position (i.e. snoring may be more likely when a child is sleeping on their back as opposed to their side or stomach), level of congestion present from upper respiratory tract infections or allergies, or a number of anatomic variables. She referred to this light, conditional snoring as “primary snoring.”
Are there any home remedies to reduce snoring?
After you’ve discovered the root cause with the help of a specialist, there are a few ways to alleviate snoring at home. If snoring is a positional issue, Dr. Valika suggested positioning your child off of their back to their belly for sleep. Additionally, if a child is overweight, promoting weight loss through diet and exercise as directed by your pediatrician can also be helpful. If it has been determined that seasonal allergies are the cause of snoring, Dr. Billings recommended antihistamines and nasal decongestants, which may prove beneficial as well.
How do you know if your child’s snoring is a problem?
So when exactly is pediatric snoring considered problematic? Dr. Billings and Dr. Valika said that snoring is worrisome when it is:
- Loud enough to hear down the hallway
- Associated with gasping or choking during sleep
- Correlated with restless sleep, nightmares, night terrors, or bed-wetting
This more labored breathing is what Dr. Billings and other professionals refer to as apnea pauses, which, according to Dr. Valika, can affect children’s health in both the short and long term. Additionally, he noted that parents should be on the lookout for daytime symptoms of problematic snoring. which include:
- Waking up tired
- Daytime sleepiness that requires a nap
- Mouth breathing
- Changes in behavior (hyperactivity or aggressive behavior)
When should I see a specialist for my child’s snoring?
According to Dr. Billings, because lack of sleep can impact daytime behavior, focus, and attention, improving sleep quality is important for the overall health and well-being of your child. If your child demonstrates loud, persistent snoring from night to night with associated symptoms like mouth breathing, witnessed apnea pauses, restlessness, gasping, difficulty waking in the morning, and daytime fatigue, Dr. Billings suggested that your child may benefit from a specialty evaluation.
For the same reasons, Dr. Ghadersohi recommended consultation with a Lurie Children’s Pediatric Otolaryngologist to help you determine the best individualized plan for your child. A specialist can help you determine if snoring is typical versus problematic, can help you identify the root cause, and evaluate whether or not your child could benefit from further intervention such as surgically removing the tonsils and/or adenoids.
This post was in partnership with Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.