Snoring In Children | Normal or Dangerous? 

sleep apnea in children

Getting good, healthy sleep is essential for the wellbeing of your child, so it’s normal for parents to worry when their child snores. 

Although snoring is more common among adults, it also occurs among children. So, what does it mean when children snore? And is it normal or should you worry? Keep scrolling to find your answer! 

Is Snoring Normal In Children?

Among children, occasional snoring occurs in almost 27% of cases. This temporary, minor snoring isn’t usually connected to major health problems.

10-12% of children have regular snoring, while 1.2-5.7% suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – sudden pauses in the child’s breathing for 10 seconds or more while sleeping. 

Oftentimes, parents are unaware of their children’s snoring, how often it occurs, or how bad it is. Not only that, but it’s also often the case that polysomnography, a detailed kind of test for sleep apnea, is too expensive for families, or just unavailable to them.

Why Do Children Snore?

When the airway at the back of a person’s throat gets blocked for any reason, they start to snore. And the noise we all hear from snoring is because the tissues around the person’s airway vibrate as they inhale and exhale. 

There are several factors that cause this blockage in the airway. In children, the following are the most common reasons for snoring: 

Swollen or Large Adenoids and Tonsils 

 The adenoids and tonsils are located near the back of your throat, and they’re part of your body’s immune system. Whether they’re naturally larger than normal or they’ve swollen up due to infection, this can block the airway and lead to snoring, which is one of the main things that cause sleep-disordered breathing in children.


Children who suffer from obesity are found to be more prone to snoring. Being overweight may narrow their airways and put the children at risk of Sleep-Disordered Breathing, which includes OSA.


Blocked and runny noses can lead to congestion, preventing the air from flowing smoothly, potentially even causing infection and inflammation in the adenoids and tonsils.


Allergic reactions may cause inflammation in both the throat and nose, making it difficult to breathe and increasing the chances of snoring.


Asthma, like allergies, can negatively affect normal breathing. If asthma causes a partial blockage of the airway, this can lead to snoring.

Passive Smoking

Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) or secondhand smoking also has the ability to affect normal breathing; it has been linked with increased risks of snoring among children.

Poor Quality of Air

Contaminated air can pose a threat to children who have normal respiration and increase their likelihood of snoring.

Anatomic Features

Some people have certain characteristics in their body that make their lives harder when it comes to sleeping normally. Take deviated septum, for example. In this condition, the nostrils aren’t equally separated, which causes snoring and mouth-breathing.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea 

OSA is another cause that raises the likelihood of snoring. Children with OSA typically snore, and that includes pauses in their breath that sound like gasps.  But snoring alone isn’t necessarily an indication of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. 

Short Breastfeeding Duration

Studies suggest that children’s frequent snoring might be linked to a shorter duration of breastfeeding. The reason for this isn’t clear yet, but it’s suggested that good breastfeeding encourages the upper airway to develop in a healthier way, which decreases the chances of snoring.

Is It Dangerous for Children to Snore?

Generally, if your child doesn’t snore frequently, there’s nothing to worry about if they do it every once in a while. But if you notice their snoring is severe and regular, this could indicate that they have sleep-disordered breathing, which can put their health at risk.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one of the main concerns regarding snoring; it causes sleep disturbance and affects how much oxygen your child gets. Some research studies connect it to low academic performance, impaired brain development, high blood pressure, behavior issues, and altered metabolism.

Without doubt, OSA can pose a serious threat to children’s quality of life. Though most researchers have been studying the consequences of OSA among older children, OSA is also believed to have negative impacts on younger children in their 2nd or 3rd year.

Traditional studies claim that any snoring that is not linked to OSA is benign. Recently, however, studies have been showing that there are some health risks that lie in habitual snoring.

Compared to children who rarely or never snore, behavior issues and cognitive impairment have been occurring more in children who have primary snoring. Frequent snoring can affect the child’s nervous system and negatively affect their cardiovascular health.

Though a link was found between  habitual snoring and health issues, the exact reason is still unclear. But it could be that snoring, even if it doesn’t indicate OSA, may have negative effects on the quality of sleep.

Furthermore, snoring in kids can have a negative effect on the parent’s sleep quality if they sleep in the same room as their snoring child. In fact, it can even cause them to wake up often if it’s too loud.

When To Worry About Your Child’s Snoring 

Though it can be normal for children to snore, there are signs that indicate a bigger problem. 

If your child snores for three nights weekly, this can sometimes mean something serious, and it’s a sign that you should see a doctor.

However, there are other cases in which snoring might be a bad sign, and you need to keep an eye out for them:

  • Wetting the bed. 
  • Difficulty breathing or gasps during sleep.
  • Focus and learning issues.
  • Bluish Skin
  • Headaches in the morning.
  • Sleepiness during the day.
  • Obesity
  • Weight stagnation or growth issues
  • Diagnosed ADHD


It’s worth noting that these symptoms can indicate SDB, but it doesn’t mean that every child who snores is facing serious health problems. If these symptoms occur in your child, you should immediately consult your pediatrician.

Key Takeaways

Infrequent snoring isn’t a very rare thing in children, but obstructive sleep apnea is much rarer. You should only start worrying if your child’s case is accompanied by other symptoms like bedwetting and learning problems, among others. 

While those symptoms rarely indicate OSA, you should definitely not ignore them and should instead seek medical help for the wellbeing of your child. 




Dan was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2017 when he was only 32 years old. He has been using a BIPAP machine for his treatment. He hopes to provide a patient's perspective on the sleep apnea experience. Dan lives in Tampa with his girlfriend and 2 dogs.

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