We’ve touched before on young children and snoring.
Now a claim from Babies Today is that 12% of all U.S. toddlers snore, and as many as 3% of these will go on to be diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
A distinction was not given between heavy and light snoring or the frequency of the snoring, but the numbers are a wake-up call for parents concerned about their children’s sleep and overall health.
It’s So Cute…But Is It Serious?
An infant or toddler lightly snoring as she cuddles in her crib in bliss is iconically cute. The likely reason is that we expect older people to snore (to be specific, we generally expect these older people to be men). When a baby does it, it’s meme-worthy.
But the suppositions about who snores, and when and how deeply, are urban mythology, according to researchers.
Though older men do have the highest snoring numbers, younger men, women and children – yes, even infants and toddlers – snore more than we’d like to think.
And it’s not always cute. According to sleepfoundation.org, while some snoring may be normal, other forms and frequency could indicate something more serious, such as:
- An upper respiratory infection
- Chronically or acutely enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids
- Obstructions in the mouth or throat, such as polyps
- Serious conditions such as bronchitis or pneumonia
Should You Worry?
While these statistics are daunting, SOME snoring, if occasional and very light, can be normal, experts say.
How do you know when to worry?
Here are 10 signs your toddler’s snoring needs to be evaluated, according to Robert Rosenberg, DO:
- Frequent nighttime sweating, which could be a reaction to the child attempting to bring in more oxygen during sleep
- Inward movement of the ribcage when breathing in (an attempt to draw in more oxygen)
- Sleeping in an unusual position, especially over-extending the neck (this is a natural reaction in order to attempt to open the airway further)
- Morning headaches, which could be due to low oxygen during sleep
- Chronic bedwetting, as there is a correlation between bedwetting and childhood snoring
- Hyperactivity and inattentiveness during the day, especially at school
- Sleepwalking and/or night terrors
- Pediatric hypertension
- Down Syndrome; 40-70% of individuals with Down Syndrome will be diagnosed with OSA
What to Do
See your child’s pediatrician. She will be able to determine whether your child’s snoring warrants follow-up testing. If not, she should be able to put your fears to rest.
However, it’s a good idea to maintain, or better, your child’s health whether she is diagnosed with a sleep disorder/sleep issue or not. Preventatively or to better your child’s health, you should:
- Make sure your child gets regular exercise. This is critical whether she is overweight or not. It’s a myth that only over weight children need “more exercise.” Children today are more sedentary than their predecessors, but the body is meant to move around. Get your child out there to have some fun, and join her if you’d like – you can only benefit.
- If your child is overweight, monitor her diet WITHOUT judgment. Again, this is something you may want to do with her. Tell her the entire family is looking to get healthier, and begin serving meals with more vegetables than refined carbohydrates or sugar, and with a protein serving at each meal unless your child has restrictions against protein.
- Make sure your child’s room isn’t too warm at night. An overly warm room can contribute to sleep issues.
- Get a humidifier for your child’s room if it is dry in your house. Dryness can also be a negative factor to sleep health.
- If your child has allergies or asthma, make sure these are well controlled. Take her regularly to her pediatrician for monitoring of any current medications or to evaluate whether she needs to add or drop a medication.
- If snoring is very sudden and very severe, call your child’s doctor immediately. She may have the an upper respiratory infection or other acute issue.