Parenting & Paediatrics

It is Vital for Babies to breathe through their nose

The topic of nose breathing and mouth breathing is very close to home for me.

Breathing through our mouth is not natural and it can become a terrible habit. This was the case for me as I became a habitual mouth breather. It affected my life in ways I did not even realize.

I never knew that it was because of the way I breathe that I became a lip balm addict. My lips were constantly dry, I always needed something to drink. I got sick regularly and took a long time to recover, often ending up with secondary infections. I felt claustrophobic in confined spaces and battled to sleep facing my husband. I had poor sleeping patterns and snored. I was often the last person to finish my meal at a dinner party and I preferred finger foods. I chose sweet and salty foods and would very seldom have something like a steak which requires lots of chewing. There were many other little behavioral things. I’ve always been known for my nasal and husky voice and I often even received compliments on that.
I became used to it. It was a way of life.

I Didn’t Know Any Different

During pregnancy I had a real tough time with sinus issues. It was only in 2016, after my baby was born, that I finally realized my inability to properly breathe through my nose. It became known to me that the reason for many uncomfortable things in my life was due to the fact that it felt more comfortable to breathe through my mouth.

I had a deviated septum and the visible part of my nose was somewhat narrow too. In my case, the best option was surgery. A year after my baby was born I spent four hours in theater for a complete physiological reconstruction of my nose to enable me to breathe properly.

The result has been life changing. Another year later I have only been sick once. My family members don’t get sick as often as they used to, and we recover quickly, mostly without the need for antibiotics. I now enjoy a wide variety of foods and curries have become a favourite.

It is my personal belief that a blocked nose is one of the most undiagnosed and untreated conditions. We can become accustomed to behavioral issues that transpire from our unnatural and unhealthy habit of breathing through our mouth.

Babies Are Naturally Meant to Breathe Through Their Nose

Our nose purifies air and provides it to our lungs at the right temperature and humidity.

A baby who is breathing through their mouth will drool and have a retracted lip. Their tongue will be pushed forward. Babies who battle to breathe through their nose tend to snore. According to ENT surgeon Dr. Raymond Friedman, “No child should ever snore apart from snoring for a few days when he is sick.”

Many Problems Occur When Babies Cannot Breathe Through Their Nose

It affects their sleep because they cannot get into a deep sleep. They become sleep deprived. It may appear that the baby has slept for five hours but when one monitors the sleep one may find that the baby has moved to all corners of the cot and changed her position several times because she is not really asleep.

One cannot be in a deep sleep with an open mouth because at complete rest we close our mouth. When sleeping patterns are negatively affected it can go on to affect concentration and other behavioral patterns.

Babies with breathing difficulty experience problems with sucking and have problems with chewing when they are older. Children with blocked noses get tired when they are being fed and will start making a mess because they need a break to breathe through their mouth.

To a large extent, these children also can’t talk properly. They cannot pronounce ‘k’ and ‘ing’ correctly and they develop bad speech habits.

How To Help A Baby Breath Through Their Nose

A baby who cannot breathe through his nose must be able to breathe through his mouth.

A soother can help a child with a blocked nose. Dr. Friedman says that the main advantage of a soother in the ENT specialty is to keep the baby’s mouth open when he or she cannot breathe through his/her nose. Babies who are fast asleep with soothers are using them as pacifiers. A baby who is sleeping with a pacifier and moving it around is not sleeping deeply but using the pacifier to breathe. Children with blocked noses tend to chew on soothers when they are awake as it helps them to breathe. One can see them walking around with soothers hanging halfway out of their mouth. A child with a blocked nose will simply use a soother to keep his airways open.

“I advocate a soother as a pacifier and if a baby can sleep with it in his mouth with his mouth closed then his nose is working adequately.”

Nasal decongestants are good for a blocked nose in the short-term.

Dr. Friedman also says that antihistamines do not work for nasal obstructions. When babies present anything associated with changes in behaviour we need to seek medical attention.

Opting For A Soother to Aid Breathing Through The Nose

The position of the tongue at rest fills the entire mouth. If a soother is too big it will push the tongue down and the lip and teeth forward. The shape of the NUK soother is designed to imitate the nipple of a mother when it is inside the baby’s mouth while breastfeeding. This unique shape is thin, narrow and flat which are the ideal characteristics of a pacifier.

The soother ensures that we get a peaceful sleep in our home. Poppet knows how to put herself back to sleep if she wakes up because she uses her dummy to soothe herself back to sleep without waking us up. Click here to read about our journey to sleeping through the night. Don’t forget the dummy chain! And always attach the soother in the same spot.

Another one of my hacks is taking the dummy with us when we go out to highly congested and polluted areas to ensure optimum nose breathing.

You can visit my Instagram and Facebook handles to see some of my other hacks, like how I use a soother to help teach my baby how to blow her nose.

With Love and Gratitude,

*This post was published in collaboration with NUK South Africa and Leigh Benson Photography.



  • Bronwyn Marcus

    Interesting view, I can see how that makes sense. Each mom has to do what they feel is best in the long run hey? great blog by the way 🙂

    • Laetitia Corder

      Thanks Bronwyn. Of course we can only ever share what works for us and aim to inspire another mom:) And us moms as a specie are always the ones who know what works for our own kids. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and for the lovely compliment.

  • Ingrid

    Interesting perspective, in Europe we recommend ditching the dummy after 6 months as the harms then outweigh the benefits.

    • Laetitia Corder

      Hi Ingrid. Thanks so much for your valuable input. I should probably have added that we currently only use the dummy for sleep and minor trauma such as falling or hurting herself and occasionally for polluted areas and a few other things. We have many professionals that recommend the same and say that excessive use of the dummy after 6 months can even delay speech. Some ENT professionals firmly disagree with that claim and say that kids who can hear properly will speak when they want to and spit it out. They also say that kids who are in happy homes don’t have any problems letting go of their dummies when they are around the age of 2 – 3 years when their sucking reflex is no longer such an important factor of their development. Thanks for your comment. The different perspectives are very important to moms.

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