In the first few months of a baby’s life, you will find your baby-making funny and sometimes weird gestures to convey their needs. Whether they make faces, banging heads against your chest, eat their hands, keep their mouth always open, or stick their tongue out, it makes you wonder why they are doing that.
Babies use their mouths to communicate with you in the first few months of their lives. They use their mouth to feed and experience the world around them. So, if you see your baby’s mouth always open, it may be just part of their normal development.
It is also important to pay attention to when they keep their mouth open – during days only or at nighttime. If they keep their mouth open during the night, they may be suffering from respiratory issues.
Open mouth posture in a newborn can be a part of the involuntary reflexes they are born with. Sometimes open mouth posture is also associated with respiratory issues or teething in babies.
If your baby’s mouth is always open, there is the possibility that their oral muscles are weak.
Most of the time, you do not need to worry about open-mouth posture. But finding out what causes open mouth posture in your baby helps you fix the problem.
If you are new parents and worried about your baby’s mouth always open, keep reading to know the underlying causes and what you can do to correct it.
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Is a baby’s mouth always open a normal part of Child Development?
Babies are born with different reflexes or involuntary reflexes that help them survive the first few months of their life.
For example, the sucking and tongue-thrust reflex are associated with a baby’s open mouth and sticking out, which is a normal part of a baby’s development.
But if you see your baby’s mouth always open during the day and night, it could mean that they are breathing through their mouth instead of the nose.
And if that is the case, you need to visit your health care professional to find out the cause of open mouth posture in your baby.
The main reasons that cause a baby to keep their mouth open vary from their normal involuntary reflex, respiratory issues, spit ups, teething, or drooling.
But there are several things you can do to fix the problem and prevent them from turning into a habit.
It is important that you raise your concerns to your healthcare professional to find out the diagnosis. If left untreated, it can cause a problem in facial and oral structure function development.
My baby kept his mouth *always* open for almost 8-9 months of his life. And I was constantly worried about his well-being. At one point, I thought he was showing an early sign of autism.
I have consulted a pediatrician and researched indefinitely to find out the causes of open mouth posture. And fortunately, at the 10-month mark, he learned to close his mouth. That was a relief for us!
In this blog post, I am sharing what I have learned along the way to help parents. Read on to learn about the causes of a baby’s mouth always open and what you can do correct it.
Why does Baby’s mouth Always Open?
There are several reasons why a baby’s mouth is always open. To know the causes of open mouth posture, it is important to pay attention to when they keep their mouth open- is it only during day or at night only?
Sometimes, a baby keeps their mouth open at night, which becomes a habit during the day.
The Baby’s mouth Always open during the day
Here are several reasons why a baby’s mouth is always open during the day.
Tongue-thrust reflex is part of the sucking reflex that babies are born with. Babies use their mouths to feed and explore the world during the first few months of their life.
When their lips are touched by a nipple while feeding, they open their mouth wide and stick their tongue out, which is a normal part of their feeding routine.
Many babies keep their mouths open after feeding, and then it becomes a habit for them to keep their mouths open all the time.
Sometimes open mouth is associated with a tongue sticking out. When newborns are touched on their lips, they will open their mouth and stick their tongue out to prevent choking and latch onto the nipple.
So, newborns with open mouth and/or tongue sticking out is a normal part of development for the first 4-6 months. It is a way for them to tell you that they are hungry.
Early weaning from breastfeeding
Babies who are weaned from breastfeeding before they are 3 months old often keep their mouth open and breath through their mouth.
This is because breastfeeding promotes breathing through the nose. In addition, the pressure on the mouth palate enhances bone growth of the baby’s jaw, thereby widening them. Widen jaw leads to a more open airway.
Open mouth posture is also associated with a solid introduction. First, you start solids with smooth texture food.
Then, as they start growing, they need to be introduced to semi-hard food that they can chew to help them strengthen jaw muscles.
If you keep giving them smooth textured food, they will not develop muscle in their jaw, which can lead to the baby’s mouth always opening during the day.
So, start with pureed food and then introduce them to semi-hard food that they can chew when they are old enough.
Also, do not rush to introduce semi-solids when your baby is not ready just because your baby keeps their mouth open during the day because choking is a real issue with serious consequences than the baby keeping mouth open.
Sometimes a teething baby will keep their mouth open and stick their tongue out to relieve the pain by sticking their tongue on their gums.
But teething is also associated with other symptoms like drooling, fever, irritated behavior, and more.
So, if your baby has suddenly started keeping their mouth open, they may be teething. And if he continues keeping his mouth open after teething, it could be just a habit that stayed on after teething.
Thumb sucking or Use of a pacifier
Prolonged thumb sucking, sticking finger down throat or the use of a pacifier can change the mouth’s structure during early childhood.
For example, if your baby has a habit of thumb-sucking or taking a pacifier, it can cause the roof of the mouth to narrow.
This will cause the baby to keep their mouth open and breathe through it. Using a pacifier or thumb sucking can also cause a problem with developing teeth.
Baby’s mouth open while Sleeping
If your baby’s mouth is always open while sleeping, it could mean that your baby is breathing through the mouth instead of the nose.
Scientific research also explains that breathing through the mouth while sleeping happens when there is a blockage in the nose or throat.
So there could be several reasons why baby keep their mouth open while sleeping.
Congestion in the newborn is caused by mucus build-up in airways or swelling of nasal passages resulting in a stuffy nose.
Newborns are often congested because their nose is very sensitive. A tiny drop of breast milk or formula aspirated into the nose via spit-ups can cause congestion in babies.
Nasal congestion can make it hard for babies to breathe through their noses. So, they keep their mouth open while sleeping.
Allergies can be another reason why newborns keep their mouths open while sleeping. Newborns are often allergic to formula or cow milk protein and are less likely from environmental stimuli.
Allergies can also cause mucus to build up in the airways, making it difficult for them to breathe through the nose.
Sleep Apnea could be another reason why a baby’s mouth is always open while sleeping.
Sleep apnea often causes the baby to breathe through the mouth because their airways are blocked due to adenoid or enlarged tonsils.
If your baby is a restless sleeper, snores, or chokes while sleeping, it could be a sign of sleep apnea.
The abnormality in the cartilage and bone that separate nostrils from one another can also make it hard for babies to breathe through the nose while sleeping.
Tongue Tie in baby
Tongue Tie is a very common condition among babies. It is caused by a thick band of tissue attached to the bottom of the tip of the tongue and the mouth floor.
This can cause the baby to keep their mouth open.
Baby with tongue-tie often has an issue with latching onto the nipple and swallowing milk in early life.
If you notice your baby having difficulty breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, get them checked.
Tongue-tie often requires small surgery. Surgery will fix their feeding issue and thereby open mouth posture.
Is a baby’s mouth Always open a sign of autism?
If a baby’s open mouth posture is associated with other signs of autism, you need to get your baby checked with a healthcare professional for diagnosis.
But rarely, a baby with only an open mouth posture is a sign of autism. Instead, a baby’s open mouth posture is often associated with the causes listed above- the main culprits are nasal congestion, allergies, eating habits, or just a habit left after an episode of cold or allergies.
So, you do not need to associate ‘baby’s mouth always open’ with an Autism.
- No response to hearing their name
- No facial expression
- No social smiling
- No social anticipation
- Lack of pointing
- Developmental delay
- Lack of social babbling
- Poor visual tracking
So, if your baby’ open-mouth posture is associated with any of the other signs, you need to get them checked. Only open-mouth posture is not a sign of autism.
Is it Bad if Baby’s mouth is always open?
Finding out why your baby’s mouth is always open can help you decide whether it is bad or something they will grow out of with time.
If it seems like a habit that babies pick up after they get sick, then you do not need to worry about it.
But if your baby keeps their mouth open because they have difficulty breathing, you need to consult your doctor.
Often, congested baby keeps their mouth open during the day and night as they have mucus build up in their airways and cannot breathe through their nose.
Once they are treated for congestion, open mouth posture will subside. But if the open mouth habit remains, it could cause several issues like dry lips and mouth, restless sleep, and snoring.
Also, breathing through the mouth is not as efficient as breathing through the nose.
When babies breathe through their nose, they will breathe in bacteria and dirt-free oxygen compared to breathing through their mouth.
They also take in more oxygen through the nose than the mouth. So, you want to ensure that your baby breathes through their nose.
If your baby’s mouth is always open for some reason or merely as a habit, you can do several things to prevent it from turning into a long-term habit.
What can you do to rectify Baby’s open-mouth posture?
Once you know what causes your baby to always keep their mouth open, you can take action to rectify or prevent it from turning into a habit.
If your baby’s open mouth posture is due to nasal congestion, these simple tips work like a charm.
Use Saline drops
If your baby is congested and having a hard time breathing through their nose (or keeping their mouth open), put 3-4 drops of normal saline in baby’s each nostril.
Normal saline will loosen up mucus in the airways and help them breathe through their nose.
Use a humidifier beside the baby’s bed.
Use a cool mist humidifier near your baby’s crib or bassinet to help them breathe through their nose. Dry air in the baby’s room increases mucus production.
Use snot sucker
To clear mucus built up in the baby’s nose, use a snot sucker from Frida Baby. This tiny tool will help relieve congestion and open nasal passages for babies to breathe through their nose.
Here is how to use a snot sucker to remove mucus from a baby’s nasal passage gently.
Breastfeed more often
When your baby is congested or sick, breastfeed them more often because mother’s milk produces antibodies to fight against the stimuli when the baby latches on to the breast.
More breastfeeding means your baby will recover faster, and their open-mouth posture will subside.
Also, put 2-3 drops of nasal saline in the baby’s nostrils before breastfeeding your baby when they are congested.
It will improve their breathing through the nose while breastfeeding and prevent choking.
If your baby keeps their mouth open and sticks their tongue out due to teething, give them a cold teething toy to chew on. That will help relieve pressure on their gum.
Rule out if your baby has any allergies or sleep apnea. Then, talk to your pediatrician about the symptoms, and they will come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan.
If you think your baby’s open mouth posture is due to anatomical problems like tongue-tie or a deviated septum, it is best to talk to your pediatrician earliest possible.
Why is my 8 – 9-month-old baby’s mouth always open?
Open mouth posture in 8 – 9 month-old baby can also be due to many reasons, from teething, nasal congestion, allergies, prolonged use of a pacifier, or any other reasons listed above.
However, more often, nasal congestion, cold, and allergies are the main reasons that cause mucus to build up in their nose and make it hard for them to breathe through their nose, thus keeping their mouth open.
Sometimes, teething can also cause the baby to keep their mouth open and stick their tongue out. If they are teething, give them a cold teething toy to chew on to relieve pressure on their gum.
Most of the time, open mouth posture subsides once they recover from nasal congestion or teething.
But if you see your 8 – 9 month old baby’s mouth always open, it could be that the habit has stayed with them after the illness.
Another reason for 8 – 9 months old baby’s mouth always open is the prolonged use of a pacifier or sucking on their gum.
This can cause the roof of the mouth to narrow, causing the mouth to stay open. If that is the case, avoid giving them a pacifier or stop them from sucking their thumb.
Rarely, open mouth posture in 8 – 9 months old babies is associated with autism.
However, if you see other early signs of autism along with your 8 – 9 month-old baby’s mouth always open, talk you your pediatrician.
It is always best to talk to your healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your baby’s behavior.
Baby keeping their mouth always open is common during the early stage of their life.
Baby uses their mouth to communicate to you when they are little and when you see your newborn’s mouth always open, it could mean that they don’t have control just yet to close their mouth.
Another common reason for open mouth posture in a baby is nasal congestion which causes them to breathe through their mouth.
The quick solution to nasal congestion issues is to use nasal saline, a humidifier, and breastfeed often.
They will be better in no time and start breathing through their nose again.
But the most important thing is first to find out the causes of why a baby’s mouth is always open.
Once you find out the reasons for their behavior, you can fix or prevent it from becoming a habit.
Also, it is always best to talk to your health care professionals if you have any concerns about your baby’s well-being before using any home remedies.
Good luck, mama!!
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