Obstructed sleep apnea in children occurs when your child experiences brief pauses in their breathing pattern that last from a few seconds to minutes, resulting in your child feeling tired and sleepy the next day.
There are several types of apnea in children:
- Obstructive sleep apnea: This is the most common type of apnea and is usually caused by a blockage of the airway due to enlarged tonsils and adenoidal tissue near the nasal passages.
- Central sleep apnea: This happens when the part of the brain that controls breathing doesn’t start or maintain the breathing process properly. Common in very premature infants.
- Mixed sleep apnea: A combination of central and obstructive apnea, mixed apnea is usually a sign of an immature breathing pattern and may occur when a child is awake or asleep.
A sleep medicine expert can help get to the bottom of your child’s sleep issues with an overnight sleep test called polysomnography, which will measure your child’s quality, quantity and breathing patterns during sleep.
Depending on the results from your child’s sleep study, treatments for apnea may include:
- medications: to relieve nasal congestion and allergies
- increased activity and better nutrition: recommended for overweight children
- continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): a nasal and/or mouth mask that forces air to send oxygenated air into the air passages and lungs
- surgery: to remove large tonsils and adenoids that make it difficult to breath
From Nemours' KidsHealth
- Apnea of Prematurity
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Enlarged Adenoids
- Sleep and Newborns
- Sleep and Your 1- to 3-Month-Old
- What Causes Night Terrors?
- Should I Be Worried About My Child's Nightmares?
- Sleep and Your Preschooler
- Sleep and Your 1- to 2-Year-Old
- Sleep and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old
- Sleep and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old
- Bruxism (Teeth Grinding or Clenching)
- Sleep Problems in Teens
- All About Sleep
- Night Terrors
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Sleep and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old
Sleep problems are common in the second half of a baby's first year. Some babies may call out or cry in the middle of the night, then calm down when mom or dad enters the room. This is due to separation anxiety, a normal stage of development that happens during this time.
If this happens, a
How Long Will My Baby Sleep?
Most babies this age should sleep 12 to 16 hours per day, including a stretch of 9 to 12 hours at night Your baby is probably still taking two naps per day. Some babies will nap for 30 minutes, while others will nap for up to 2 hours.
How Should Babies Sleep?
The American of Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends room-sharing without bed-sharing until the first birthday or for at least 6 months, when the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is highest.
Room-sharing is when you place your baby's crib, portable crib, play yard, or bassinet in your own bedroom instead of in a separate nursery. This keeps your baby nearby and helps with feeding, comforting, and monitoring your baby at night.
While room-sharing is safe, putting your baby to sleep in bed with you is not.Bed-sharing increases the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths.
Follow these recommendations for a safe sleep environment for your little one:
- Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, not on the stomach or side. The rate of SIDS has gone way down since the AAP introduced this recommendation in 1992. Once babies consistently roll over from front to back and back to front, it's fine for them to remain in the sleep position they choose.
- Use a firm sleep surface. Cover the mattress with a sheet that fits snugly. Make sure your crib, bassinet, or play yard meets current safety standards.
- Do not put anything else in the crib or bassinet. Keep plush toys, pillows, blankets, unfitted sheets, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, and bumper pads out of your baby's sleep area.
- Avoid overheating. Dress your baby for the room temperature, and don't overbundle. Watch for signs of overheating, such as sweating or feeling hot to the touch.
- Keep your baby away from smokers. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of SIDS.
- Put your baby to sleep with a pacifier. But if your baby rejects the pacifier, don't force it. If the pacifier falls out during sleep you do not have to replace it.
- Watch out for other hazards. Avoid items with cords, ties, or ribbons that can wrap around a baby's neck, and objects with any kind of sharp edge or corner. Look around for things that your baby can touch from a seated or standing position in the crib. Hanging mobiles, wall hangings, pictures, draperies, and window blind cords could be harmful if they are within a baby's reach.
How Can I Make Bedtime Easier?
You may have started a bedtime routine that you're sticking to. If you haven't yet, now's a good time to start. Soothing activities that lead up to "night-night" time can help relax your baby. A warm bath followed by stories or singing will signal an end to the day, and these same activities can be used at bedtime for years to come.
You'll want your baby to fall asleep on his or her own. This may mean doing your nighttime routine and putting the baby into the crib while he or she is drowsy but still awake. If the baby cries, stay away for a few minutes. Your baby may settle down and go to sleep.
If the crying continues, go back in and soothe your baby for a moment without picking him or her up. This may go on a few times until your baby figures out that the crying is not getting results. This can be tough for parents, since it's upsetting to hear your baby cry. If you know your baby is safe, it's OK to give him or her time to settle down.
If your child keeps on crying and calling for you, a few loving words from the bedroom door ("Mommy's right here, but it's time for you to go to sleep now") and another quick exit may do the trick. Try to lengthen the time between these personal appearances until — at long last — your baby is asleep.
What If My Baby Wakes at Night?
Even a baby who has been sleeping through the night will sometimes wake in the wee hours. Allow some time to let your baby get back to sleep on his or her own. Give your baby a few fussy minutes before you respond, then after seeing that everything is OK, leave your baby alone to fall back to sleep.
When your baby wakes up in the night and cries for you, reassure your baby quietly that you're there. Then send the message that he or she needs to go back to sleep. Your best bet might be a soothing pat on the back and a quick exit. If you are firm and consistent about teaching your baby to go back to sleep without you, this stage should pass pretty quickly.
Remember: Any cuddling, feeding, or talking you do may prompt your baby to wake each night for this attention.
When to Call the Doctor
It can be difficult to respond to your baby's needs with the right balance of concern and consistency, but remember: This is the time to set the stage for future restful nights for the whole family.
If you have questions about your baby's sleep, talk with your doctor.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: August 30, 2017