Are snoring and pauses in breathing normal for some babies and toddlers? What should I do if I see my child snore and have pauses in breathing during the night?
Snoring occurs in 10-14% of children. About 1/3 of children who snore might have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where there is disrupted sleep and often drops in oxygen levels. Pauses in breathing can be quite normal in infants and children, especially when they are in dream (Rapid Eye Movement, or REM) sleep. Children and infants have more of that dreaming stage of sleep than adults, so the chances of catching them having pauses or irregular breathing are high.
If there is persistent snoring, look for daytime symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, like excessive sleepiness and/or behavioral difficulties. In older children, some possible daytime symptoms of OSA are problems with learning, attention, and memory.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many children snore because they have nasal allergies, and a trial of nasal sprays like corticosteroids over several weeks can bring great relief (talk to your health care provider first before starting any medication!). If symptoms persist both by day and night, do talk to your doctor who should examine your child, particularly looking for large tonsils.