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My Child Is Snoring

My Child Is Snoring

Thursday, January 19, 2023

For some people, snoring is just a reality anytime they sleep. Other people snore only occasionally. Their families are caught off-guard when woken up in the middle of the night to the unmistakable sound of sawing logs. 

No one knows when and how to predict it. They are just a lot more grumpy some mornings because their sleep is interrupted by unpredictable snoring.

Even though snoring is most common in older adults, children can and do snore. And when it becomes a regular occurrence, it can cause concern for parents.


My Child Is Snoring

If you notice your child snoring only every once in a while, it is likely not a cause for concern, especially if they just spent a significant amount of time outdoors in pollen and dust or if they have a noticeable cold. However, if you find your child is snoring more and more regularly or every night, it may signal a more chronic condition that needs addressing.

What Causes Childhood Snoring

Snoring in kids has the same potential causes as it does for adults. We snore when the airway becomes obstructed, blocking the good flow of air through our nose or mouth. We already mentioned allergies and colds as common causes of intermittent snoring (at least 30% of kids experience this form of snoring), but other more severe causes can include:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Enlarged adenoids, turbinates, or tonsils
  • Deviated septum
  • Contaminated air
  • Sleep apnea
  • Asthma
  • Deformities of the nose or jaw
  • Tongue thrust

While allergies and infections are easy to manage and clear up with medications, other causes of snoring are more challenging to address.

Effects of Snoring

If you regularly notice your child snoring more than two times a week, they may have what is called ‘primary snoring.’ This generally doesn’t involve any additional health concerns. If snoring occurs nightly, however, there are a number of noticeable side effects that can begin to impact your child.

Perhaps the most significant concern is the effects that accompany snoring caused by sleep apnea. This sleep disorder is a severe medical condition that causes an individual to pause while breathing during sleep periodically. When left untreated, sleep apnea not only keeps your child tired but can lead to heart problems, difficulty learning, or behavioral problems.

But any condition that regularly impedes air movement, such as a tongue thrust or deviated septum, can have similar effects. If you begin to notice any of the following symptoms, alongside frequent snoring, you should talk with a pediatrician:

  • Gasps or difficulty breathing in general while asleep
  • A bluish tint to the skin
  • Waking up with a headache
  • Sleepiness during daytime hours
  • Difficulty concentrating or learning
  • A weight that is significantly above or below average

Addressing Common Causes

If you suspect your child is not regularly breathing through the nose at night or during the day, you must bring it up with a healthcare professional. For issues caused by physical obstructions within airways, such as a deviated septum or enlarged adenoids, turbinates, or tonsils, your primary course of action to prevent mouth breathing and snoring may be surgical.

However, if snoring is caused more out of habit, stress, or tongue thrust, you have other preventative measures open to you for addressing childhood snoring. You can help your child focus on the following:

  • Wear a nasal strip or other devices to keep nasal passages open
  • Sleep on the side instead of the back
  • If they need to sleep on their back, use a pillow to ensure the head, and upper back are elevated between 30-60 degrees
  • Focus on good sleep hygiene practices

If snoring is accompanied by mouth breathing during the day and habitually resting the tongue against or between teeth, thumb-sucking or nail-biting, a lisp, or dental misalignment, it may be caused by tongue thrust. Simply put, tongue thrust is pushing the tongue against the teeth while swallowing or at rest.

Most people with a tongue thrust breathe through their mouth while both sleeping and awake. But when we sleep and cannot consciously breathe through the nose, it is when bad habits and tongue thrust symptoms are most evident. Tongue thrust is common in children, we are all born with it, but at about a year old, we should have outgrown the habit.

Children and Tongue Thrust

Better Sleep with Tongue Thrust Therapy

If you think you or a loved one may be experiencing snoring because of a tongue thrust, don’t worry. In most cases, it can be remedied with tongue exercises that will help form a more natural tongue and swallowing motion. Our program, IJustWantTo® Correct My Tongue Thrust, has helped children and adults achieve a better night's sleep by reducing airway obstruction without any medication, surgery, or invasive options.

For more information on this simple program, you can visit our store page and send us a question. Just a few simple exercises practiced for 5 to 10 minutes a day can give you a better, more restful sleep in just seven weeks. You’ll be able to wake up again without that dry mouth and scratchy throat.

Janet M. Bennett

Written by:

Janet Bennett, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, is a Speech Pathologist in private practice in Asheville, NC, since 1977. She specializes in treating tongue thrust, a swallowing disorder that can result in buckteeth, an open bite, a lisp, snoring, and other problems that have not yet been made known to most people.