Breathing Milestones: When Babies Start Using Their Mouths?

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Breathing Milestones: When Babies Start Using Their Mouths?


When Do Babies Start Breathing Through Their Mouth?

Have you ever wondered when babies start breathing through their mouths? It’s a common question for parents, especially new ones, who are always concerned about their little one’s health and development.

In the early stages of a baby’s life, the breathing journey unfolds in a captivating and intricate manner. Newborns, with their delicate respiratory systems, primarily rely on the small wonders of their noses. This article delves into the fascinating process of when babies start breathing through their mouths, beginning with the initial moments of life. We will explore why newborns predominantly breathe through their noses, emphasizing the critical roles of nasal hairs and mucus in filtering and humidifying the air. Understanding this early phase sets the stage for comprehending the transition to mouth breathing, a natural progression in a baby’s development.

The First Moments of Life 

When a baby is born, their respiratory system undergoes significant changes. Initially, babies primarily breathe through their noses. The nostrils have tiny hairs and mucus to filter and humidify the incoming air, providing essential protection to their delicate lungs.

The Fascinating Journey of Baby’s Breathing

In the early moments of a baby’s life, its respiratory system embarks on a remarkable journey marked by two significant aspects:

Explanation of Newborns Primarily Breathing Through Their Nose

Newborn babies predominantly breathe through their tiny nostrils. This initial preference for nasal breathing is a crucial aspect of their early respiratory development. But why is it so?

The answer lies in the intricate design of the baby’s nose. Nature has equipped their nostrils with miniature hairs and a thin mucus layer. These seemingly insignificant features play a vital role in the baby’s overall well-being.

The nasal hairs act as guardians, serving as a first line of defense against harmful particles and microorganisms in the air. They capture these intruders, preventing them from reaching the delicate inner workings of the respiratory system.

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 The Role of the Nose in Filtering and Humidifying Air

The nose’s role in filtering and humidifying the air cannot be overstated. As newborns take their first breaths in the outside world, the nose becomes their loyal protector.

Imagine the world through the eyes of a newborn – a world filled with countless invisible particles and potential hazards. The nose acts as the gatekeeper, intercepting dust, allergens, and microbes that might otherwise threaten the developing respiratory system.

Simultaneously, the nasal passages adjust the air’s temperature and humidity, ensuring it aligns with the baby’s internal requirements. This meticulous regulation ensures that the air is gentle on the fragile tissues of the lungs.

In essence, the nose is a natural wonder, providing not only the first line of defense against external contaminants but also creating an environment conducive to the baby’s comfort and health.

Understanding these initial stages of a baby’s respiratory journey helps us appreciate the intricate processes at play. It sets the stage for the transition to mouth breathing, a developmental milestone as the baby grows.

The Role of the Nose 

baby breath

During the early months of life, a baby’s nasal passages are essential for breathing. The nose acts as a natural barrier, preventing harmful particles and pathogens from entering the respiratory system. It’s also responsible for maintaining the right temperature and humidity of the inhaled air, creating a comfortable and safe environment for the baby’s lungs.

Transitioning to Mouth Breathing 

As babies grow and develop, they go through various milestones, including the transition to mouth breathing. Typically, this transition occurs gradually and naturally. Babies may start breathing through their mouths more frequently around 6 to 12 months.

Why Do Babies Switch to Mouth Breathing? 

Several factors can contribute to the transition from nasal to mouth breathing in babies:

  • Congestion: Babies may turn to mouth breathing when they have a stuffy nose due to colds or allergies, as it becomes challenging to breathe through their nostrils.
  • Teething: The discomfort of teething can lead to babies breathing through their mouths, as they may prefer the open-mouth position for comfort.
  • Exploration: As babies become more curious about their surroundings, they may experiment with different breathing patterns, including mouth breathing.
  • Sleeping Position: During sleep, babies may naturally switch to mouth breathing, especially when they sleep on their backs.

Is it normal for my baby to breathe through their mouth?

Is it normal for my baby to breathe through their mouth?

Yes, it’s entirely normal for babies to breathe through their mouths, especially during specific situations. Babies, like adults, may naturally switch between breathing through their nose and mouth. However, newborns often prefer nasal breathing due to their smaller airways. As they grow, they gradually incorporate mouth breathing into their respiratory patterns, particularly when they have congestion, are teething, or are in a deep sleep. This flexibility in breathing is a part of their natural development and usually not a cause for concern. However, if mouth breathing becomes chronic and is accompanied by other symptoms, consulting your pediatrician is advisable.

Should I be concerned if my baby breathes through their mouth?

Not necessarily. It’s generally not a cause for concern if your baby occasionally breathes through their mouth. Babies are adaptable and may naturally switch between nasal and mouth breathing. However, if you notice persistent or labored mouth breathing, especially when your baby is awake and active, it’s a good idea to consult your pediatrician. Chronic mouth breathing, when accompanied by other symptoms like noisy breathing or signs of distress, may warrant further evaluation.

Can mouth breathing affect my baby’s health?

Mouth breathing itself is not harmful, but chronic mouth breathing, especially during the day, can lead to potential health concerns in the long term. Prolonged mouth breathing may affect facial and dental development, leading to issues like a high palate, crooked teeth, and an overbite. It can also impact speech development. Sometimes, it might lead to sleep disturbances, affecting your baby’s overall well-being. If you’re concerned about your baby’s breathing patterns, it’s advisable to discuss it with your pediatrician, who can provide guidance and address any potential issues.

How can I help my baby if they have a stuffy nose?

If your baby has a stuffy nose, there are several ways to provide relief:

  • Use a saline nasal spray or drops to help clear mucus.
  • Use a humidifier in your baby’s room to maintain optimal humidity levels.
  • Elevate the head of your baby’s crib or bassinet slightly to ease congestion.
  • Gently suction mucus using a bulb syringe.
  • Ensure your baby stays hydrated to keep mucus thin.

Always follow your pediatrician’s recommendations for specific treatments or medications, especially for babies under six months old.

When should I be worried about my baby’s breathing?

You should be concerned about your baby’s breathing if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Persistent and labored mouth breathing during the day.
  • Noisy breathing, wheezing, or grunting.
  • Signs of respiratory distress, such as flaring nostrils or chest retractions.
  • High fever or other signs of illness.
  • Bluish discoloration of the lips, face, or fingertips.

If you observe any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. It’s essential to prioritize your baby’s well-being and consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation.

Conclusion: A Natural Progression

In conclusion, the transition from nasal to mouth breathing in babies is a natural progression in their development. While babies primarily breathe through their nose in the early months of life, they gradually start incorporating mouth breathing into their respiratory patterns as they grow. This transition is influenced by various factors, including congestion, teething, exploration, and sleeping position.

Now that you have a better understanding of when babies start breathing through their mouth, you can confidently navigate your baby’s respiratory journey and ensure their health and comfort.


Can babies breathe through their mouths when congested?

Yes, babies can breathe through their mouths when congested. It’s a natural response to nasal blockage.

When do babies start using their mouth to breathe?

Babies typically start mouth breathing around 6 to 12 months as part of their development.

How long are babies obligate nose breathers?

Newborns are obligate nose breathers for the first few months of life due to small airways.

When do babies start breathing normally?

Babies transition to balanced nose and mouth breathing around 6 to 12 months as they grow.

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