Mouth breathing in children of all ages, in including babies, toddlers and infants is an emerging problem facing medical community and parents due to its devastating effects on the development of the young. In order to realize the broad scope of pathological effects of mouth breathing, consider the titles of recent published medical studies:
Prevalence of malocclusion among mouth breathing children: do expectations meet reality? (Souki et al, 2009)
Etiology, clinical manifestations and concurrent findings in mouth-breathing children (Abreu et al, 2008)
Radiological evaluation of facial types in mouth breathing children: a retrospective study (Costa et al, 2008)
The negative effect of mouth breathing on the body and development of the child (Flutter, 2006)
Prevalence of oral malodor and the relationship with habitual mouth breathing in children (Kanehira et al, 2004)
Relationship between mouth breathing and postural alterations of children: a descriptive analysis (Krakauer et al, 2000)
A comparative study of effects of mouth breathing and normal breathing on gingival health in children (Gulati, 1998)

Discovered effects of mouth breathing in children, babies, infants and toddlers are:
- Higher levels of Gingival index
- Allergic rhinitis
- Malocclusion
- Enlarged tonsils
- Enlarged adenoids
- Oral malodor
- Obstructive deviation of the nasal septum
- Facial changes (long face, half-open mouth and increased anterior facial height)
- Postural alterations
(Abstracts of these articles are on my website; follow the link below.)

Usual clinical manifestations of mouth breathing in the young include:
- Sleeping with mouth open
- Nocturnal sleep problems or agitated sleep
- Drooling on the pillow
- Snoring
- Itchy nose
- Nasal obstruction
- Irritability during the day

Major causes of poor health and mouth breathing in children are:
- Lack of physical activity (or exercise with mouth open)
- Mouth breathing parents
- Over-feeding of children by parents
- Sleeping on their back (except infants, who should sleep on their back while tightly swaddled)
- Junk food and lack of essential nutrients in diet (fish oil, Ca, Mg, and Zn)
- Over-heating (too much clothing)

In comparison with normal breathing in healthy adults (8-12 breaths/min), normal breathing in the young is more frequent (newborns: 40-46 breath/min; infants: 20–40 breaths/min; preschool children: 20–30 breaths/min; older children: 16–25 breaths/min). The crucial thing, however, for maximum cell oxygenation in children, is to have normal (up to 98%) oxygenation of the arterial blood (due to diaphragmatic breathing since chest or costal breathing reduces oxygen delivery to lower parts of the lungs and blood), but with higher tissue carbon dioxide content. Therefore, ideal breathing is very slow and light, but using the belly only. (Note that these days there are many people, who believe that “More breathing means more oxygen for the body” and promote the myth that “CO2 is a waste, toxic gas.)

Reduction of carbon dioxide in the lungs and cells, in fact, is the main mechanism and reason why mouth breathing is so damaging for any person. As with healthy or normal adults, normal breathing in children is very quiet (or inaudible) and almost invisible. CO2 plays the key role in O2 delivery due to its vasodilatory properties (expansion of blood vessels) and facilitating effects (O2 release in tissues due to the Bohr effect). Hence, the less we breathe, the more oxygen is delivered to our tissues).

Correction of risk lifestyle factors (outlined above) is the key to success. However, practice of breathing teachers indicates that breathing retrainnig of parents is another crucial factor for success in re-education of children in relation to breathing normalization, in general, and mouth breathing, in particular.

Author's Bio: 

Additional details, methods and techniques in relation to mouth breathing: Devastating Health Effects of Mouth Breathing in Children and Solutions.

Graphs and description of the Ineffective Breathing Pattern.

Dr. Artour Rakhimov is health lecturer and the author of Breathing Problems - and books devoted to natural self-oxygenation, science-based healthcare, breathing education and breath retraining. The website has hundreds of medical quotes, graphs, references, charts, tables, results of trials, analysis of breathing techniques, free breathing exercises, manuals, lifestyle modules and other resources for better cells oxygen levels and health. Normal Breathing defeats chronic diseases!